Trains are a major part of the national transportation system, as evidenced by the millions of commuters who ride the Metro Manila Rail Transit. There are also ambitious plans for a subway that will be operational in 2025. Despite the increasing affordability of motor vehicles, many Filipinos still prefer to ride trains, partly due to the worsening traffic conditions in the metropolis.
It’s true that Filipinos have a fascinating love-hate affair with trains in general, but if you are interested in a different kind of locomotive, then you might want to check out the Hybrid Electric Train (HET) project of the Department of Science and Technology.
Developed by the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) of the DOST, the Hybrid Electric Train is the first Filipino-made train and uses the same technology behind the Toyota Prius hybrid cars. The train has five coaches that can accommodate a total of 880 passengers. More energy efficient than diesel-powered trains, the HET can run at a speed of 50 kilometers per hour.
The HET is fully air-conditioned, so passengers can enjoy comfortable rides even under the scorching heat of the sun, and is equipped with a CCTV system, LED TV sets and automatic sliding doors.
According to DOST engineering team head Paolo Acuin, the HET features a diesel-powered generator, an electric motor, a bank of electrical batteries, and regenerative braking technology. Regenerative braking means that the kinetic energy generated during stops is stored in 260 lead-acid batteries, which can then be used to power the train’s engines and electronic components.
The Hybrid Electric Train took five years to develop at a cost of ₱120 million, which is far less than the Indonesian-made trains that the DOST bought for ₱2.3 billion.
For 19 days, from May 6 until May 24, you can experience what it’s like to ride the DOST’s Hybrid Electric Train. The Philippine National Railways, which will be the HET’s operator, is required to complete 150 hours of run time as part of the turnover process. The HET will ply the Alabang-Biñan route.
What can you say about this? Would you be willing to give the Hybrid Electric Train a try?