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Manila-Bicol railway resumes before year-end

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]


President Arroyo says economy and people of Bicol will benefit from this very positive development

By Angelo S. Samonte, Reporter

The rail service of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) that connects Manila and the Bicol region is expected to resume before year-end, President Gloria Arroyo announced Monday.

The President said she is confident that the rehabilitation of the Manila-Bicol PNR line would be completed before the end of 2009, paving the way for the resumption of the train service after three-year cancellation.

The government is committed to modernizing the country’s infrastructure to spur economic development in the countryside, Mrs Arroyo said, adding that the rehabilitation of the PNR’s Manila-Bicol railway line is now being fast-tracked.

The restoration, rehabilitation and modernization of the existing lines of the PNR is envisioned to be the key to the development of Central and Southern Luzon as it is expected to provide effective and efficient means of transportation to and from Metro Manila and the provinces in Northern and Southern Luzon.

The PNR has said that the rehabilitation of the Manila-Bicol railway line would benefit some 20,000 passengers daily.

When completed, the railway rehabilitation project will lead to the resumption of the long-distance train services between Metro Manila and the Bicol Region up to Matnog in Sorsogon. The line will eventually link Luzon to the Strong Republic Nautical Highway System.

The President said PNR General Manager Manuel Andal informed her that repairs and upgrading works of train stations in the Bicol area started last March while the repair of the tracks will start in May.

“By the time of the Penafrancia fiesta next September, commuter train travel between Iriga City, Camarines Sur and Tagkawayan, Quezon will already be in place,” she said.

“The movement of larger volumes of passengers and commodities by rail will serve to further strengthen the economic ties of Manila to the production centers of the South. The economy and people of Bicol will no doubt benefit from this very positive development,” she added.

The rehabilitation program started in September 2007 includes building a new PNR station with ticketing booths, waiting areas and cyclone wire fencing. Blumentritt, Tayuman, Alabang and Muntinlupa stations are currently under construction. The railway lines are also being fixed for the use of new trains recently bought by the PNR.

The Philippine National Railways is a state-owned railway system established under the Department of Transportation and Communications as an attached agency. It currently operates around 479 kilometers of track in Luzon, where most railway infrastructure is located. The PNR through the decades has been synonymous with the Philippine rail system.

The PNR aims to link key cities within its scope of operation and serve as an instrument in national socio-economic development. It is among government agencies that recently received financial subsidy from the central government worth P74 million.

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