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Old May 25th, 2011, 09:24 PM   #861
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Bicol Express making a comeback
By: Paolo G. Montecillo, Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:26 pm | Wednesday, May 25th, 2011


MANILA, Philippines—The train service that can take travelers from Metro Manila to Naga City in under 10 hours is set to make a comeback in the next few months, promising to help the Bicol Region maximize its immense potential for economic growth.

The state-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) has been working on the Manila-Naga rehabilitation since the start of the Aquino administration.

Following a test-run earlier this month, the PNR on Wednesday declared that the dream of reviving the fabled “Bicol Express” could soon be a reality.

“In my assessment, the Bicol test-run we conducted was 95-percent successful and we are nearing our objective to put back in operation the commercial PNR trips to the Bicol region,” PNR General Manager Junio Ragragrio said.

“We were delighted to reach Naga City from Manila in less than 10 hours. We were even more in high spirits on our return trip to Manila the following day since it only took us nine hours going back,” he said.

Ragragrio said the 10-hour mark had become the PNR management’s yardstick because it takes an average of 10 hours to get to Bicol from Manila by bus. Making it in less time means the PNR train service can become an alternative means of transport for people who cannot afford to go by plane.

He said the resumption of the Bicol Express would open doors of opportunities ranging from boosting local tourism to stirring up economic activities in Southern Luzon.

The popular tourist destinations in the Bicol area include the Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Camarines Sur. Mayon Volcano, known for its near-perfect cone shape, is also in Bicol.

Another eco-tourism destination is the town of Donsol in Sorsogon, where tourists are able to swim with whale sharks.

Ragragio, who hails from Naga City, added that several projects were on the table for the Bicol Express route, including the renovation of several train stations traversing the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay.

“The PNR would like to be among the major catalysts and a partner in the further development of the country connecting provinces via a comprehensive railway system,” he said.

“The railways system during the early growth of this nation during the Spanish and American times was the very backbone of social and economic progress. It was done before and it can be done again,” he said.

The test-run was conducted during the weekend using a newly refurbished locomotive train with several tourist-class coaches and covered a distance of more than 400 kilometers.

Ragragrio said he personally supervised the test.

Earlier, Ragragrio said PNR would spend P1.8 billion for the rehabilitation of the train line. About P200 million would go to the acquisition of new trains and rehabilitation of existing ones.

The rest would be spent to fix the 400-kilometer stretch of track from Manila to Bicol that had deteriorated and become unusable in the past few years due to neglect.

He said train cars donated from Japan called “sleeper coaches” were used during the test-run to check its journey worthiness. All train coaches in the Bicol Express will be air conditioned, he said.

Also included in the test-run was a locally refurbished passenger coach with several reclining chairs with a fit and finish comparable to imported train cars. It has better amenities to compete with imported first-class air-conditioned bus.

“We are offering three classes of train cars once we start operations of the Bicol Express. We have the tourist class where we have reclining chairs with more leg room compared to commercial buses,” Ragragrio said.

He said these newly installed amenities should help attract more passengers to use the train line, which he sees as a better alternative to busses.

Other amenities include widescreen LCD monitors with state-of-the-art sound system to allow passengers to comfortably watch movies during the long trip.

“We also have two types of sleeper coaches. One is a family suite that is good for a family or ‘barkada’ of four to six persons. And we also have the executive class for passengers who would like extra privacy during the lengthy tour, and part of the attraction is the inclusion of a dining car with an ambiance of first-class restaurant,” Ragragrio said.

http://business.inquirer.net/2517/bi...ing-a-comeback
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:13 AM   #862
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Quote:
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finally! i found this thread.

this is much peaceful compared to the old one.
What happen to the old one: Railroad Infrastructures and Transportation Thread
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:22 AM   #863
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What happen to the old one: Railroad Infrastructures and Transportation Thread
I believe it was removed by the mods. A couple of anti-fare hike pseudoadvocate turned it into a trash bin. I hope they won't come here.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:32 AM   #864
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Wag nmn sana

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I believe it was removed by the mods. A couple of anti-fare hike pseudoadvocate turned it into a trash bin. I hope they won't come here.
Nng dahil sa dalawa...Kaya pla...
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Old May 26th, 2011, 08:06 AM   #865
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Again, please be reminded to speak in English. Thanks.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 12:10 PM   #866
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I believe it was removed by the mods. A couple of anti-fare hike pseudoadvocate turned it into a trash bin. I hope they won't come here.
if they will come here this will be funnier place
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Old May 27th, 2011, 03:01 PM   #867
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if they will come here this will be funnier place
I can't imagine the scenario.
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Old May 28th, 2011, 06:14 PM   #868
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2535 Locomotive and Commex coaches and DMU back to old logo @ Tutuban station.
Photo was taken 05/28/11






DMU preparing for departure bound for Alabang, the two man have an umbrella checking the machine before the jouney.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 08:25 PM   #869
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A YouTube video from the Philippine forums!

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nice!
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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:18 PM   #870
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Reviving the ‘Bicol Express’

By Danica Hermogenes, Fatima Reyes
INQUIRER.net
1:10 pm | Monday, May 30th, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The plains of the countryside, the landscapes of hills and coconut trees, the serenity of remote villages, views of the sea and high bridges – these were some of the scenes that were unique to passengers aboard a Philippine National Railways (PNR) train which left Tutuban station in Manila a few minutes past 7 a.m. on May 22.

Looking through the glass windows, passengers saw people who lived near the railways – children playing, women busy with their laundry, and men taking their rest after a hard day’s work – waving their hands as the train went past them. Some of them covered their ears as they heard the loud sounds of cracking metal and blows of the horn.

The long wait for commuters who desire non-stop travel from Metro Manila to Bicol province might be over as refurbished PNR trains are expected to be up and running by July.

PNR successfully conducted its third trial run on Sunday, beating its target of a 10-hour travel time from Manila to Bicol, said Jera Sison, PNR spokesperson. The train, which ran from 40 to 60 kilometers per hour, left the Manila station a few minutes past 7 a.m. and arrived at Naga City in Bicol at 5 p.m. It left Bicol at 11:00 a.m. from the Naga station Monday and reached Tutuban at 9:00 p.m.

The trip, one-way, is about two to four hours faster than the run in March and six hours more than the trial run in September 2010, when train took 16 hours to ply the 400-kilometer route, said Jera Sison, PNR spokesperson.

PNR’s Manila to Bicol services have stopped operating since 2006 because of the damages caused by typhoons Milenyo and Reming.

Convenient, Cheap , secure alternative to buses

PNR General Manager Jun Ragragio, in an interview during the trial run, encouraged passengers to support the restoration of the Manila-Bicol train line saying it is a “cheap alternative to buses.”

“Our fares are cheaper compared to buses because PNR does not pay the SLEX [Southern Luzon Expressway] toll fees,” he said. “Plus our coaches are wider compared to buses.”

He said the trial run was part of a major PNR project which aimed to fully restore operations in the main line south railway system.

He said PNR would be offering a promo during the first months of their operations – rates from Manila to Naga would start from P500 to P550 for those who would avail of the seats in reclining coaches, P700 to P800 for those who would want to use the sleeper coaches and P1000 to P1400 for the VIP or solo cabins.

As part of PNR’s security measures, Ragrario said they would not be allowing vendors to enter the train as dining carts would be available.

First aid kits are also available, he added.

There are two trained and armed rail police officers assigned in every trip to ensure the security of passengers, said Ragrario.

“Our duty is to escort and assist the passengers and to secure them from pick-pockets and accidents,” said Mariano Baguio Jr. who has been
working as a rail police for two years.

“We were also part of the clearing team whose duty was to clear obstructions in railways,” Baguio said, adding that clearing illegal settlers were part of it.

There were also linemen assigned in every kilometer to inspect the safety of rails, said Ragrario.

PNR Bicol area Director Manager Constencio Toledano Sr. said their fare was “40 percent cheaper than other means of transportation.”

Toledano noted that their daily fare to and from Manila to Edsa is P10; Manila to Bicutan, P15; Manila to Sucat and Alabang, P20.

Airnel Abarra, a public school teacher and UP graduate student who was also onboard the train during the trial run, said people would surely support the PNR if they would ensure a “safe, reliable, comfortable, and fast” train ride.

He said the restoration of the Manila to Bicol train line would be a big help for passengers who seek convenience for long distance travel.

PNR will be having its inauguration last week of June, in time for St. Peter’s Day and will be fully operational in July. “This is so that our trip will be blessed,” Ragrario added.

New and refurbished coaches

During the trial run, guest passengers were able to have a taste of the experience of riding two types of fully-air-conditioned coaches the PNR would be using for the restoration of the operations.

The “tourist-bus” type of coach featured “reclining” and “rotating” deep-cushioned blue and yellow seats. The revolving mechanism of the seats made it possible for passengers to turn and face each other and easily communicate with one another. Ragragio said that these designs “fit” Filipino passengers well, as we are very “social” people.

Sleeper coaches, on the other hand, were more appropriate for those who would avail of the night trips, Ragragio said. Sleeper coaches featured rooms or cubicles where two double-deck-like types of couches were placed facing each other.

Ragragio said sleeper coaches elicit a “barkada feel” and would be good for groups of people who would want more privacy and a place of their own in the train for them to conduct different activities.

Need for Funds, More trains to boost economy

Ragragio said the refurbished coaches were all donated by Japan. He said around 80 coaches have been successfully imported from Japan and that the country was expecting 50 more by September.

He said PNR would need around P2 billion for the restoration project but only P 250 million pesos have been released.

“That’s why we are continuing our policy of being aggressive in asking for more donations from other countries,” he said.

Ragragio said more funds were needed to make the railway system more intact but the PNR is “making the most of what we have.” He said it was better for them to revive old trains instead of buying new ones since it would cost less and would allow them to contribute to the economy.

“Reviving old trains enable the PNR to provide job opportunities and improve our technology,” he said.

He said PNR expected to gain P800 million additional income and a 33 percent increase in employment opportunities during the first year of the revival of the Manila to Bicol train line operations.

“Around 4, 800 families could benefit from the restoration of the train line,” he said.

Ragragio said for the first month of the operations, there would be one train line from Manila to Bicol. There will be five short stopovers in stations in Lucena, Hondagua, Tagkawayan, Cagay, and Sipukot. He said with the arrival of more trains, eventually the PNR would be able to conduct six trips a day, three going to Bicol and three returning to Manila.

He emphasized the need for more trains for the PNR to provide more services to around 300,000 commuters.

“PNR could only provide services for around 50,000 passengers due to lack of trains,” he said.

Heritage-oriented, ‘Very Filipino’ vehicle

The train swayed like a boat at times, even rocked continuously, during the trial run but the passengers did not mind as they watched how the view from the window changed, depicting the differences between life in the city and the countryside.

The train ride gave the passengers access to see the shanties and houses near the railways, remote villages and nipa huts, the green plains filled with vegetables and fruits, and the day to day plight of men and women of the provinces.

“These are scenes you cannot see on a bus,” PNR spokesperson Sison said.

Ragragio said Bikolanos have loved trains because they’ve been part of their culture.

“Trains have been significant not only traditionally but also culturally,” he said.

He went on to describe the train as a very “Filipino vehicle” by saying that we Filipinos were very social in nature, and that the features of the train complemented this quality.

Karl Brouwers, president of the Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines (RIHSPI), said the revival of the south line railways was a good way for the PNR to re-establish itself as one of the leading modes of transportation in the Philippines, and a way for Filipinos to realize how long they have come in terms of “industrial” heritage.

RIHSPI is a non-government organization that has been closely working with the PNR in its efforts to preserve and restore railways and educate the public about the industrial heritage of the Philippines.

Jaime Tiongson, former president and treasurer of the organization, explained that the 100-year-old railroad route plied by the train was the first land route to Bicol, and that the trains have been part of Philippine heritage since the time of the Americans.

“Travelling by train reminds me of different events from our industrial history,” Tiongson said. He said that ever since, the growth and development of a country was characterized by the quality of its railway systems.

RIHSPI is planning to build an “industrial railway heritage museum” where they will showcase the “history of the PNR and the railway system in the Philippines.” The museum will educate the public on how the group deals with identifying and restoring locomotive motor and other heritage equipment for the PNR.

Abarra said the features of the train, like its wide leg rooms, will provide a means for train passengers to “interact” with other passengers, and might even allow them to gain new friends.

He said that with the long hours of travel, it was unavoidable for passengers not to get bored and eventually talk with one another.

He added that some of his friends years back, who could not afford a bus ride but wanted a comfortable ride to the provinces, preferred to use the train and eventually it became a part of their tradition and way of life.

He said he hoped the PNR would be able to provide quality service for passengers especially during parts of the year when people would want to go back to the provinces to celebrate festivities, like the “Feast of the Penafrancia” in Bicol.

“The train will grant Filipinos a very accessible means for them to go back to their home provinces,” he said.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 10:32 PM   #871
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Wow! Nice article! And there's a heritage angle!
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 05:01 PM   #872
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I don't think this has been posted yet!

Naga-Manila train run set


Published : Saturday, May 28, 2011 00:00 | Article Views : 223
Written by : Sonny Sales

NAGA City – The Philippine National Railways will launch the Manila-Bicol train run on June 29, signaling the start of the regular train trips from Manila to Naga City.

PNR conducted three test runs since last year, the latest in January and May this year.

New PNR manager Junio “Jun” Ragrario said President Benigno Aquino ordered him to start the operations of the Bicol line this year.

Ragrario said one-third of the Manila-Bicol railway was rehabilitated by the previous administration. The repairs focused mostly on critical railtracks, bridges and embankments destroyed by calamities.

The PNR chief said under his term, the train engines have been reconditioned to run for at least nine and a half hours for its regular trips from Tutuban to Naga City Central Station.

The Bicol train run was originally set in July this year but new workforce and contracts for Quezon-Bicol railtracks, including the completion of the Cristobal Bridge in Laguna, sped up repairs.

The PNR will employ at least a thousand new workers including new linemen and security men called, “Railway Police” which will man major PNR stations and junctions from Manila to Bicol.

The most important assistance granted to PNR by foreign donors is the 80 decommissioned train coaches from a Japanese Railway firm.

Aquino ordered the release of P250 million for the freight cost of the Japanese donated rail-cars which is expected to arrive this year.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 05:59 AM   #873
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More news from the Philippine forums.

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Manila-Bicol rail service to resume

(The Philippine Star)
Updated June 10, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Railways (PNR) will resume its Manila-Quezon-Bicol route the so-called Bicol Express on June 29, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the resumption of the rail service is one month ahead of schedule, “made possible by a new workforce and contracts for the Quezon-Bicol portions of the tracks, and vital infrastructure rehabilitation including the completion of the 50-meter San Cristobal Bridge in Laguna.”

The rehabilitation plan includes the renovation of train stations in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay.

Lacierda said one-third of the railway had been rehabilitated under the Arroyo administration and the remaining two-thirds was undertaken under the present administration.

He said PNR administrator Junio Ragragio had received orders from President Aquino to reopen the railway line this year.

He said PNR earmarked P1.8 billion for the rehabilitation of the railway and P250 million for the acquisition of new trains that included 83 air-conditioned sleeper and commuter coaches.

He said the new coaches donated by Japan are due to arrive later this year.

Lacierda said three test runs have already been made, covering the 400-kilometer railroad.

The restored Bicol Express will have at least three classes of coaches: tourist class with reclining seats and in-coach movie and sound systems with sleeping cars that can accommodate a family or groups of four to six persons; executive class with individual compartments: and a dining car with first class dining amenities.

“With the forthcoming resumption of the Bicol Express, new impetus to tourism and the transport of goods has been given. Manila-Bicol rail service resuming this month is a promising start,” Lacierda said.

The rehabilitated line will employ about a thousand workers including railway police to monitor and patrol the tracks and junctions.

The rail service between Manila and Bicol started in 1938 but the devastating weather of the early 1970s destroyed the South railway and only token efforts were made to restore rail services.

The railway was rehabilitated in 1985 but operation of the rail service stopped in 2006 due to typhoon damage. – Delon Porcalla, Aurea Calica
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Old June 20th, 2011, 04:35 AM   #874
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NORTHRAIL

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/16427/aquino-halts-3-graft-tainted-projects

NorthRail project is now in limbo. No one knows when it will resume, if ever.
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Old June 20th, 2011, 06:20 PM   #875
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Old June 21st, 2011, 08:57 PM   #876
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NorthRail

I hope they investigate the over pricing of the NorthRail and when they find out the person/persons responsible they put them in jail
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Old June 21st, 2011, 10:01 PM   #877
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news

Latest news about NorthRail from President Pnoy

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx...bCategoryId=63
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 06:24 PM   #878
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Update from the Philippine forums: the new PNR dining car to be used this June 29 for Manila-Naga services!

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Passengers flock on final test-run of Bicol Express



MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of passengers flock the Philippine National Railways (PNR) as the agency launched tonight the final test run of Bicol Express, which will re-open its Manila-Naga-Manila operation on June 29.

Philstar.com is among those that witness tonight’s event as the PNR fully simulated the full services of the train that will leave Manila at 6:45 p.m. tonight.

Officials of the Department of Transportation and Communication also joined the activity. The Bicol Express route was suspended on 2006 on the aftermath of typhoon Melinyo.



PNR general manager Junio Ragragio Jr. leads dozens of guests during the final test run of Bicol Express tonight.


PNR general manager Junio Ragragio Jr. said that the re-opening of the Bicol Express is part of the Aquino administration’s determination to improve the transportation industry to spur economic development in the countryside.

“ It is indeed a milestone in the nation’s transportation history of the comeback of this once popular railway express; however what is important to us is that PNR gets back on its track to provide an efficient public mass transportation system that would initially service the southern part of Luzon transporting tourists, travellers and goods without delay,” Ragragio said.

Bicol Express first trip departed Tutuban Station at 6:45 in the evening and will arrive at the Naga City station at 4:00 in the morning.

The Bicol Express offers three classes of train coaches namely the tourist, family and executive classes. Each offers different amenities to suit passenger’s needs and budget.

The Tourist coach has reclining seats similar to a first class air conditioned bus but with wider leg room and seating capacity. It also offers an in-house movie (LCD) to keep passengers entertained for the more or less nine-hour trip.




The Family coach is divided into several cubicles, each with 4 double deck bunk beds that can provide a relaxing shut eye during the long journey.

The Executive coach is designed for travelers who would like privacy. It offers individual private rooms and a mezzanine area.

A dining car is also provided in the trip for passengers who would like to eat in comfort with the amenities of a restaurant.
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Old June 26th, 2011, 02:16 PM   #879
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From Vic Nierva's FB Page
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Old June 26th, 2011, 03:55 PM   #880
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May Schedule ba yan or something?
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