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DOTr to maintain 70% passenger capacity in all rail lines, train marshals to enforce health protocols, random antigen tests on passengers to be conducted

MANILA -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will strictly enforce health protocols onboard trains as well as in the various rail facilities such as stations and depots. This, after the National Capital Region (NCR) was placed under Alert Level 3 status amid the rise of COVID-19 cases.

DOTr Secretary Art Tugade said that the enforcement of strict health measures to mitigate the spread of the virus will continue to be in place, even more as the present 70% passenger capacity in all rail lines will be maintained.

“As recommended by our railways sector, all rail lines will maintain the present 70% passenger capacity under the Alert Level 3 status, provided that strict health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be enforced. This is to avoid the ‘bottlenecking’ or crowding of passengers at stations, which may increase the risk of virus transmission,” said Secretary Tugade.

According to Secretary Tugade, any adjustments or changes in the passenger capacity of rail lines, as well as in other modes of public transportation, will be subject to the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

As part of the heightened implementation of health measures in all rail lines, a random antigen testing of consenting and volunteering passengers will also be done.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan said the random antigen testing will help the DOTr gauge the level of COVID-19 presence in the rail lines.

“The random antigen testing of consenting and volunteering passengers is intended to guide us in the adoption of any further needed measures. Passengers who volunteer to be tested will be permitted to proceed with their trip after testing, and will be informed of their test results by text message,” Usec. TJ Batan said.

Aside from the random antigen testing of passengers, the use of train marshals will be optimized to enforce health protocols inside trains and in stations.

“Deployed train marshals will make sure that all passengers will be wearing face masks, and will not talk, eat or make use of mobile phones while inside trains. In addition, the deployed train marshals will also enforce the physical distancing rule inside trains, where applicable, considering the current passenger capacity. However, physical distancing will be strictly enforced in station platforms and in station premises,” Usec. Batan added.

Secretary Tugade also ordered the regular disinfection of trains, platforms, stations and depots. He also ordered that contact tracing measures be continued.

Meanwhile, to ensure the safety of all rail facilities, the DOTr has required all rail personnel to undergo antigen testing, pursuant to prevailing protocols of the Department of Health.

Physical reporting in offices of rail lines personnel will be limited to 60%, further to Alert Level 3 guidelines, which prescribe at least 30%.

The DOTr Rail Sector will also be coordinating with its contractors and consultants on similar enhanced measures to be implemented for constructions workers and other personnel deployed at its various Rail Projects.

Secretary Tugade also ordered the Rail Sector to verify the vaccination and booster status of all rail personnel. He also ordered that booster shots be given to rail personnel to increase operational resilience. (DOTr)

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Kate Shiene Austria

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