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MANILA, Philippines – State-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) is spending P40 million ($921,382*) to tap a consultant to inspect and assess the safety of the railway track and bridge network of the 478-kilometer Bicol Express service.
The company approved a P40-million budget for the procurement of consulting services for the technical inspection and safety assessment of PNR, PNR Bids and Awards Committee chairman Ruben Besmonte said.
“The project involves inspection and thorough safety assessment of the tracks from Tutuban in Manila to Legaspi City in Albay with route length of 478 km and the individual condition of 431 locations of bridges,” PNR said in the notice.
Interested consulting firms have until Wednesday, August 6, to submit their eligibility documents.
The winning bidder has 120 days to complete the project.
Bicol Express chugs back to life
PNR is also looking at reviving the Bicol Express service by September after a successful trial run last month, PNR General Manager Engr. Joseph Allan Dilay previously said.
The operations of Bicol Express were stalled following a derailment incident in Sariaya, Quezon in October 2012 that injured 9 passengers. The flashfloods caused by typhoons damaged the rail tracks and bridges.
The revival of the service would hinge on the findings of the CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya previously said.
DOTC has requested the services of the Canadian firm to certify that the train service is safe to resume operations.
“I am answerable to our people and anything that happens to the passengers of PNR is something that my conscience would carry. So I have requested the Canadians to likewise look and comment on areas that we should work on and to certify that the Bicol Express is safe,” Abaya previously said.
Prior to the halting of its operations, the Bicol Express service catered to some 2,000 to 3,000 passengers weekly. The highest ridership figures were recorded during the peak seasons of Holy Week, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and Christmas.
Meanwhile, Dilay said PNR would continue with the rehabilitation of its non-operational railway line to the north and the development of new railway routes within and outside of Luzon.
Also, the passage of Republic Act No. 10638 in June extended the corporate life of company by another 50 years to June 20, 2064.
“The extension will allow the company to implement new programs designed to improve both the railway’s cost efficiency and its operations,” Dilay said. – Rappler.com
*($1 = P43.41)