Commuter Trains to Ply Tagkawayan to Guinobatan Route by Mid-2010

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 10 - The Bicol Commuter Service extension, under the Southrail Linkage project of the Philippine National Railways (PNR), will start its full operation in July this year.

DSC01297 PNR executive chief of staff Nicolas Priela said the commuter service extension project from Tagkawayan, Quezon to Guinobatan, Albay is expected to be completed mid-year of 2010.

"This is part of the Short Term Strategic Goals 2010 for Bicol rail project. Our target start of operation for the Manila-Bicol line is May this year while the full rehabilitation of the existing narrow gauge from Manila to Legazpi Line for passengers, freight and local commuter services operation is expected to be completed until 2018," Priela said.

The Bicol commuter service started its operation last December 16, 2009, initially covering Ligao, Albay-Naga City-Sipocot, Camarines Sur section and is fast gaining ridership and revenue.

Priela said the construction of some bridges in the Southrail is still ongoing as well as other facilities and widening of embankments.

"The communication facilities in Tagkawayan, Quezon to Ligao, Albay have been restored and the repair of two locomotives and five coaches in Naga are now operational," he added.

Priela said new coaches are expected to arrive in the country and one unit is reserved to Bikol for the Manila-Naga route.

However, the upgrading and implementation of the Southrail and Sorsogon extension project will also start this year under a standard gauge system for the express passenger train and inter connectivity with the North rail -phase 1 Caloocan to Lucena; phase l-B Lucena to Legazpi; phase -ll extension commuters Daraga, Albay to Matnog, Sorsogon to connect with the Eastern Nautical Highway.

Priela also explained that the PNR management is also welcoming private partners to improve the rail transportation.

"The management is implementing the operational fund of the PNR very wisely hoping and improve its revenue collection to achieve our goal -which is self sustaining," he said.

Priela said PNR is still being subsidized by the national government.

"The government's subsidy to PNR is P35 million. This is a little bit smaller than last year due to improvement of revenue management," he said. (PNA)

Source: PNA - February 15th, 2010

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