MANILA – The gradual improvement in the operations of the MRT-3 could be felt by commuters by the third quarter next year, a transport official said Friday. This, after the Philippine government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed the loan agreement for the MRT-3 rehabilitation project on Thursday. The increase in train capacity would start after the first 7 to 9 months of rehab, while the full restoration is expected to be completed after 26 months, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Timothy John Batan told DZMM radio. Japan commits to fund MRT rehabilitation During the rehabilitation, operating speed will gradually increase to 30 kph from 60 kph and the train intervals reduced to three-and-a-half minutes from the current 7 to 10 minutes, he said. “Ang inaasahan din natin pagkatapos ng 26 month rehabilitation natin ay mawala na yung mga aberya na dinanas natin nitong mga nakaraang taon,” Batan said. Its original maintenance provider Sumitomo was tapped for the rehabilitation project. The DOTr also assured the public that fare hike will not be discussed until the rehabilitation is completed. “Hangga’t hindi nararamdaman ng pasahero ang improvement ng MRT-3, hangga’t hindi natin narerehabilitate ‘yan ay hindi pa namin pinagiisipan ang akyat pasahe,” he said.