PNR to deploy buses for duration of train ops suspension
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has directed the Philippine National Railways (PNR) to provide alternative transportation options for the thousands of commuters expected to be affected by the temporary suspension of train operations starting July 2. The move is to accommodate the construction of the P873.62 billion North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR).
PNR Chairman Michael Ted Macapagal stated that, as per Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista’s instructions, he is working closely with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to ensure the smooth implementation of the bus augmentation plan. Under this plan, the LTFRB will approve additional bus franchises for the affected train routes.
“Economic observers attribute this to the fact that Secretary Bautista is not a politician,” Macapagal stated.
“He comes from the corporate world and has a natural inclination to expedite matters when he is convinced they are on the right track. It is advantageous that he enjoys the support of the business community,” he added.
Both PNR and LTFRB are attached agencies of the DOTr.
It is estimated that around 30,000 individuals rely on the trains that pass through Malabon, Tutuban, Sta. Mesa, Makati, Alabang, and Calamba.
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number stood at a significantly higher figure of 70,000.
Macapagal explained that the original proposal aimed to relocate the train tracks to allow train operations to continue during the construction period.
However, this plan was discarded due to the substantial expense of up to P4 billion, as well as the potential disruption it could cause to the progress of the civil works project.
The DOTr secretary is determined to strictly adhere to the five-year timetable, Macapagal added.
Barely a year in office, Bautista has seen 12 contracts bid out and awarded. The contracts have an average cost of P20 billion each.
Macapagal highlighted the unprecedented speed at which the DOTr is implementing President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vision.
Once completed, the NSCR will span 147 kilometers, connecting Clark in Pampanga to Metro Manila and, ultimately, Calamba City in Laguna.
Upon its inauguration, the PNR expects to transport 800,000 passengers daily, offering them a safe and comfortable journey.
The travel time across the entire railway system will be reduced by half, from four hours to two hours.
A total of 51 local train sets and seven express train sets will be deployed. Local trains will serve passengers at each of the 35 stations, while express trains will provide faster service by making fewer stops.
Sumitomo Corporation and Japan Transport Engineering Company, two Japanese firms, will supply the trains for the project.
The financing of the project is being provided by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.