NAGA CITY (May 30, 2011) — The new manager of the Philippines National Railways (PNR) has announced the launching of the Manila-Bicol run on June 29 -- one month earlier than scheduled -- marking the start of the regular train trips from Manila to Naga City after successful test runs last year and in January and May this year.
Newly installed PNR manager Junio “Jun” Ragrario, a native of Albay province, told newsmen here that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had directed the PNR management to start the operations of the Bicol line this year.
Originally scheduled to start in July this year, the Manila-Bicol run can roll this June because of acceleration of railtrack repair works and early completion of the Cristobal bridge in Laguna
The railway chief revealed that one-third of the stretch of the Manila-Bicol railway system has been rehabilitated. He said that of the 1.5 billion pesos earmarked for the project, about 1 billion was already spent by the Arroyo administration in the initial phase of the Bicol line rehabilitation including repairs of critical railtracks, bridges and embankments destroyed by calamities that had struck the region.
Ragrario said that under his administration the train engines have been reconditioned and made fit to run the regular trips from Tutuban to Naga City Central Station and back.
Under Ragragio, the PNR shall hire at least a thousand new employees, including new linemen and members of a security force called, “Railway Police” who will be posted on major PNR stations and junctions from Manila to Bicol.
A Japanese railway firm recently pledged to donate 80 decommissioned train coaches that shall be brought to the country this year, and President Aquino has ordered the release of P 250-Million to cover the freight cost of the donated rail-cars.
Ragragio said the Japanese donation will greatly boost the fleet of PNR coaches that will run the Bicol Express route and the Metro Manila commuter service system.
Ragrario said they are now asking the President to release the P500-Million balance out of the P1.5 Billion. PNR will use the remaining fund in the rehabilitation of railtracks in the Bicol-Quezon stretch. (SONNY SALES)