Train's Return


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Last month, we welcomed the news that the resumption of the PNR's operations in the region has been set for next year. The famed "Bikol Express" which ran from Manila to Sorsogon and vice versa but which halted because of super typhoons Milenyo and Reming in 2006, was announced to be returning to serve the community by May 2010.

Just recently, however, Private Sector Consultant to the PNR, Nicolas Beda Priela, spoke with the media and broke more welcome news: the Tagkawayan-Naga stretch of Bikol Express will be operational in time for the Peñafrancia Fiesta this year.  Indeed, this development is much appreciated.

The opening of the train-route from Tagkawayan, Quezon to Naga City will provide pilgrims to INA another option for travel. Instead of being left at the mercy of bus operators who refuse to bring down their fares despite previous oil price rollbacks, devotees of INA from the north of Camarines Sur of will be able to travel less expensively to Naga and back. Moreover, the reported two units of three-coach commuter trains which are currently having test-runs at the PNR Naga Central Station will offer passengers ample comfort in travel as well as safety.

This prospect bolsters the argument for an improved public transportation system which is seen to largely benefit the marginalized sector. Competition among provincial bus operators has yielded improved services admittedly; but at the literal cost of hiking prices beyond the reach of the average and poor commuter. In other words, the supposed free competition in the market did not bring down transportation fares as conventional thinking would have it. Instead, it merely invited the operations of colorum buses to "cater" if not take advantage of commuters unwilling or unable to ride the expensive buses of franchised operators.

The full return of PNR's operations in the region may yet put on track the notion among our leaders that a public transportation system which is efficiently and humanely managed is not only timely, it is long overdue.


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