Make Bicol rail link a priority, lawmaker urges Marcos
House Assistant Minority Leader Gabriel Bordado Jr. on Wednesday urged President Marcos to prioritize the revival of the Philippine National Railway (PNR) project in Bicol, citing its importance in boosting economic growth and development in the region.
Bordado, who represents the third district of Camarines Sur, cited the vital role the trains plying the Southern Luzon route played as the “backbone for the progress of the Bicol region,” contributing to its competitiveness, alongside more advanced regions in the country, by facilitating the transportation of goods and services.
The PNR stopped train operations along the Manila-Bicol route in 2014 due to rail damage caused by typhoons, right-of-way issues and lack of coaches.
“As urban populations continue to grow rapidly, the challenge of matching road capacity with the exponential increase in vehicular traffic becomes increasingly difficult. Railways offer a more efficient and sustainable solution, utilizing less land, producing fewer pollutants and providing high capacity for transportation,” Bordado said.
“By extending the PNR Charter, the government ensures that the railway system continues to function in the distribution of goods and services, especially to grassroots levels. This not only supports economic growth but also enhances accessibility and inclusivity,” he added.
Bordado noted that while the railway currently serves commuters from Metro Manila to Calamba City in Laguna province, and certain parts of Bicol, the proposed revival of the railway system can pave the way for its complete rehabilitation to benefit people from remote areas who would be provided with improved connectivity to the capital and urban centers.
In January, Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co, chair of the House committee on appropriations, said the PNR project for long-haul rail trips to Bicol would be revived as the national government started renegotiating with the Chinese government for its resumption despite the earlier cancellation of a P147-billion loan.
Co said he was informed that the PNR project was one of the topics discussed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during President Marcos’ visit to China early this year.
In an earlier report, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the Marcos administration was serious in pursuing the PNR South Long-Haul project, which is part of a series of multimodal big-ticket projects to make Bicol a more convenient gateway to the Visayas and Mindanao.
Bicol has an international airport in Daraga and ports operating in Legazpi City and Pantao in Libon town, all in Albay. The region will also be linked by the 417-kilometer Quezon-Bicol Expressway (South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 5).