MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Railways (PNR) is unlikely to resume trips before classes begin on June 1, as most of its outdated rail tracks still need to be replaced, its chief said.
“Our target to resume operation before school opening may no longer be feasible because the rail experts from the US only arrived this week,” PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay said.
Dilay said the operations may resume “by Independence Day on June 12” but there will be fewer trains deployed.
He said his office needs to complete repair works and ensure safety before trips are resumed.
“Before we resume operations, we need to be sure about safety issues. By the time we resume trips, 80% of the rails between Tutuban and Alabang will be new,” Dilay added.
The PNR chief, however, declared “there will be lesser operating trains,” after a southbound train last April 29 derailed along the Skyway Magallanes exit in Makati City.
“There will only be 5 train sets that will run from Tutuban to Calamba, from 8 train sets,” Dilay said.
He added that around two donated train sets arrived from Japan, but “they will be deployed [to serve passengers] between Naga [City] and Sipocot, [Camarines Sur] after they are refurbished.
Whe asked, Dilay said that PNR’s foregone revenues due to the derailment accident is “around P800,000 every day, but we are also cutting [expenses] due to daily fuel cost and reduction of employees for now.”
Other than its Metro South Commuter Line, the state-run railway authority also operates Bicol Commuter Service, which carries passengers between Naga and Sipocot.
Its Metro South Commuter line is a 57-kilometer rail from Manila to Laguna.
The government is bidding out the P144.38-million ($3.24-million) rail track improvement of the PNR to revive the Southeast Asia’s oldest railway system.
The project, according to the transportation department, will add a second track to run parallel to the single track currently connecting the Sucat and Alabang stations. – Rappler.com
$1 = P44.6