The Hybrid Electric Road Train (HERT) will soon be rolling up north as the coolest ride up north as the Local Government of Ilagan City, Isabela is now finalizing its agreement with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to adopt this mass transportation technology developed by local engineers.
As part of the celebration of the 2021 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW), the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) presented this latest development following its goal to promote the HERT as one of the solutions to the mass transportation woes that usually accompany urbanization.
Launched in August 22, 2014, the HERT measures 40 meters in length, runs at a top speed of 50kph, and can carry 240 passengers per trip. It has two variants, the 160-capacity per coach and the bigger 240 passengers per coach model. It runs on a combination of diesel
fuel and a 260-battery generator thus referred to as a hybrid. HERT does not need infrastructure reconfiguration as it runs on ordinary paved roads similar to the Bus Rapid Transportation system. Although it would require a dedicated lane, the benefit it would provide to the commuting public is considered substantial.
Last August 2021, DOST signed an agreement with the LGU and formed a consortium of local metals and allied industry fabricators to develop locally the HERT from scratch. Initially, the Ilagan City LGU will fabricate one set with three coaches of a 240 passenger HERT variant.
According to Rommel Corona, Supervising Science Research Specialist of the DOST-MIRDC, aside from the environmental aspect of the technology, it promotes the development of the country’s transportation industry by developing further the HERT and achieving technological self-reliance. “This will create new industries and support local manufacturers,” expounded Corona.
The adoption of the transportation technology will enable the local metal fabrication in Ilagan City to support and develop their own metals industry. The city has its own capable metals fabricators in the sectors of local transportation, agro-machinery, and auto body fabricators, among others.
Prior to the agreement, Cauayan City, also in the province of Isabela, was the first to have its HERT in 2019. During its turnover ceremonies as part of its Smarter City initiatives, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña explained that “unlike the conventional railway systems, the hybrid electric road train is more energy efficient since there is no need for the alternating current running through suspended cables.”
The HERT was seen plying the route of Clark Freeport Zone in 2015 to test its roadworthiness, thus providing a reliable mode of transportation inside the zone. By 2016, the train with modifications has already been adopted by the Clark Development Corporation to serve some of its 1,000 business locators’ employees at the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone.
In fact, it was one of the main attractions during the opening day of the 2015 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration where excited passengers were treated with a free ride around the Mall of Asia Complex.
Realizing the value of efficient mass transportation, representatives from the local government of Cebu City had signed a memorandum of understanding on the possibility of also integrating the road train into the city's public transport system.
It was also demonstrated in 2016 as part of the “EDSA Evolution”, a road-sharing project by the Bayanihan sa Daan Movement and various government agencies. As part of the demonstration, passengers were transported from Pasay to the Museo Pambata at the Luneta Park in Manila, free of charge.
Aside from the mentioned LGUs, according to Corona, the province of Iloilo and North Cotabato are mulling the possibility of adopting the technology.
The 2021 NSTW runs from November 22-28 2021. To know more about the other virtual activities and exhibits, webinars, and forums, and watch past events, log in to www.nstw.dost.gov.ph or check the official Facebook page NSTWDOST. (By Joy M. Lazcano, DOST-STII)