Binay vows Bicol Express revival
If elected president, Vice President Jejomar Binay will revive the “Bicol Express.”
“Transport continues to play an important role in enabling economic development and poverty reduction. We plan to revive the Manila-Bicol line gradually, first starting with the Alabang-Calamba line, then Calamba to Matnog (in Sorsogon),” said Binay in remarks in Albay on Wednesday.
Binay, the United Nationalist Alliance standard bearer, lamented the deterioration of the country’s train systems and said he would push for the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways if he wins.
He said the degeneration of the Philippines’ train system undermined the economy which would have enjoyed the benefits of like other countries with more advanced railway systems.
“Transport continues to play an important role in enabling economic development and poverty reduction,” said Binay, whose remarks were released to reporters in Manila.
Reviving the train line would also boost the tourism industry, with the railway crossing provinces with known tourist destinations, he said.
Binay said the return of the Manila-Bicol line, called the “Bicol Express,” will be good for tourism, and that this approach could be adopted by other provinces to boost local tourism.
“We will restructure the corporation financially to isolate the financial problems inherited from the past and organizationally, to address a renewed PNR towards a sustainable railways system with a regular formal evaluation versus performance standards over an agreed control period,” he said.
“The new manager should also be tasked with negotiating for a bigger budget for the PNR to improve its services and facilities, while the national government—through the finance department—can look for concessional loans to help the PNR with its bigger financing requirements,” he said.
Binay also said his administration would consider splitting the Department of Transportation and Communication into two to give better focus on the two sectors it covers.
He cited the “sorry state” of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3, which suffers from maintenance problems, leading to stalled operations and even accidents, putting commuters’ lives at risk.
A Binay administration, he said, would give priority to replacing the train line’s maintenance contractor, holding erring officials liable for problems in its operations, and tapping the MRT’s private shareholders to improve the train service.