MANILA – Senator Cynthia Villar urged the Philippine National Railways (PNR) on Wednesday to resume operations before schools start classes on June 1.
”With the opening of classes, ridership is expected to rise again and we need the cheapest mode of transportation that can carry more people,” Villar said.
“We hope the PNR will make good on its promise to hasten the investigation and the repairs needed to ensure the safety of passengers,” she added.
Last April 29, two coaches of a PNR train bound for the Nichols station derailed in Magallanes, Makati City, causing minor injuries to 80 passengers. PNR suspended its operations to make way for investigation and repairs.
According to a copy of PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay’s report on the derailment incident provided to Villar, PNR’s third party consultant, TUV Rheinland USA, will finish its investigation on May 22.
Dilay also gave the assurance that PNR’s engineering and technical personnel are working double time, on day and night shifts, to restore the line and resume train operations and services before the school opening or earlier.
“We cannot depend on the LRT and MRT, with the incidents regularly happening there, to transport our students safely. PNR trains should be fully operational with the guarantee that passengers will be safe and that mechanisms are in place to ensure structural integrity of the tracks, bridges, and station facilities,” she said.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, worked for the extension of the charter of PNR to another 50 years in order to continue providing the people in the lowest-income bracket with a transport system that they can afford.
Compared to public utility jeepneys and buses that charge PhP2 per kilometer, PNR provides the cheapest mode of transportation by charging only 71 centavos per kilometer, Villar noted.
Based on Dilay’s report, he recommended the following actions: speed restriction of maximum 35 kilometers per hour in existing operations from Tutuban in Manila to Calamba in Laguna; installation of all missing clips, rail joints, angle bars, and other rail accessories, plus the systematic rail replacement using the newly delivered rails; inspection of all rails and joints along the whole line before start of operation; expedite installation of CCTV cameras; and deployment of additional security guards in some locations that are subject to potential pilferage.
Earlier, Villar urged the PNR to seek the help of the local government units to patrol and secure its tracks, especially those nearby populated areas, if they are unable to deploy additional manpower.
“It will work for the benefit of constituents when LGU officials help to secure rail tracks servicing their district,” she said.