MANILA, Philippines ? The Philippine National Railways (PNR) has officially begun rehabilitation of the 478-kilometer railway line from Laguna to Albay under Phase I of the SouthRail Project.
Repair work began on Dec. 22, 2008, especially in railway portions damaged by Typhoons ?Milenyo? and ?Reming? over two years ago from Barangay San Cristobal in Calamba City in Laguna to Legazpi City in Albay.
?The mortality [of the tracks] is already at 70-80 percent, with the connection to Albay most affected,? Edgardo Remonte, PNR assistant general manager for operations and maintenance, said in a phone interview.
Remonte said the improvements would include laying concrete ties to replace wooden ones. Bridge ties will also be replaced, he added.
?Repairs are already ongoing in the Calamba area, as well as the bidding for [the rehabilitation] of two bridges in Sariaya (Quezon). Procurement of materials for Camarines Sur has started.?
Tourist, economy trains
Five coaches and two locomotives are currently garaged in Naga City in Camarines Sur and will be refurbished with new seats and parts, Remonte said. The trains will also be repainted.
Travel time for the trains will reach up to 70 kilometers per hour. ?Eventually, we will have tourist and economy trains,? Remonte said. The PNR will provide the train operators.
A total of P1.5 billion has been allotted by the government for the SouthRail project, but so far less than P2 million had been spent. ?The funds haven?t all been released yet,? Remonte said.
The project is funded entirely by the government, with no loans, he added.
The railway line will have stations at Lucena City and Hondagua in Quezon, and in Naga City in Camarines Sur and Legazpi in Albay. It will pass through Los Baños town and San Pablo City in Laguna; Candelaria, Sariaya, Agdangan, Plaridel, Gumaca, Lopez, Sumulong, Aloneros and Tagkawayan in Quezon; Del Gallego and Ragay in Camarines Norte; Banga Coves, Sipocot, Libmanan, Pamplona, Pili City, Baao and Iriga City in Camarines Sur; and in Polanqui, Oas, Ligao, Guinobatan, Travesia, Comun, Daraga and Camalig in Albay.
The PNR aims to complete Phase I of the SouthRail project by September.
Under Phase II, a new line will be opened connecting Legazpi to Matnog in Sorsogon, and to the NorthRail Project, which will connect Calamba to Metro Manila all the way to Caloocan City.
The Batangas Railway Line will have a separate connection to Calamba.