MANILA — The Philippine National Railway (PNR) on Tuesday morning formally opened its Tutuban-Calamba route which makes it the railway’s seventh station to open in the past 12 months.
Transport officials took off from the Tutuban station with media at about 8 a.m. and later arrived at the station in Calamba, Laguna past 9 a.m. for the ribbon-cutting and blessing ceremonies.
In an interview with reporters, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said that the opening of the extended route would mostly benefit passengers from the South travelng to Manila.
When asked why taking the train would be the better option versus taking the bus, the DOTC chief said that the train had more advantages.
“It’s traffic-free and it’s also cheaper,” Abaya said, noting that the train fare for the route is Php45 per passenger, which is 50 percent less than the bus fare pegged at Php100.
He admitted that there was still so much to improve in the PNR, one of which was double-tracking the route to Alabang station by 2015.
By definition, a double-track railway involves running one track in each direction, compared to a single-track railway where trains in both directions share the same.
Abaya also said that the department is also working to revive the Bicol service, which is currently under rehabilitation.
He said that as soon as it is tested to be safe to run up to Bicol, it will run to Naga City in Camarines Sur province, and eventually to the southern terminal in Legazpi City, Albay.
PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay in a separate interview meanwhile, assured that despite the extended route, there will be enough trains to accommodate more passengers.
The new route will serve an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 passengers every day, in addition to the current 70,000 daily passengers.
Dilay also said that additional newly-rehabilitated trains will come in the next six months as well as an automatic-ticketing system to make sure passengers don’t hitch a train ride without paying first.
The Calamba route will begin with two daily trips, with a planned addition of two more trips by early 2015.
After inauguration, the train will serve passengers from Tutuban to Calamba at 7:07 p.m. and passengers from Calamba to Tutuban at 5 am.