After 6 years, rail trips resume in Bicol
LIGAO CITY — After six years, Bicolanos will once again enjoy the convenience of rail trips as the Philippine National Railways (PNR) is reopening the route connecting the provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay after Christmas.
In a statement on Thursday, the PNR said that four trips are available daily in the 100-kilometer route between Naga City and Legazpi City and vice-versa starting Dec. 27. The trip, which takes about two hours, is faster as compared to taking a bus which covers the same route in two and a half hours.
“This was made possible with the restoration of tracks and the clearing of vegetation, obstructions and dangling wires,” said Dathan Dario, the PNR information officer.
Part of the Bicol Commuter service, the Naga-Legazpi line will have 16 stops, with fares ranging from P15 for the shortest distance to P155 for end-to-end travel. Students, seniors, and persons with disability are eligible to a 20-percent fare discount.
The PNR’s diesel-powered trains, which can accommodate about 250 passengers, will stop at Naga, Pili, Baao, Iriga, Lourdes, Bato, Matacon in Camarines Sur; and Polangui, Oas, Ligao, Travesia, Daraga, Bagtang, Washington Drive, Capantawan and Legazpi in Albay.
Regular stops will be at the PNR stations in Naga, Pili, Iriga, Polangui, and Ligao, and the newly reopened stations in Travesia, Daraga, and Legazpi.
Meanwhile, flag stops (where passengers may request to get off upon request) will be at Baao, Lourdes, Bato, Matacon, Bagtang, Washington Drive, Capantawan, and Oas.
The PNR stopped the Naga-Legazpi route in April 2017 due to an absence of rolling stock, which was worsened by a succession of typhoons that damaged railroads in the Bicol region.
First to be restored was the operation of the Naga-Sipocot segment of the Bicol Commuter service in 2022. On July 31 this year, the PNR resumed operations between Ligao and Naga, with two daily trips in service.
The segment from Tagkawayan, Quezon province, to Naga, however, remains suspended.
The Bicol Commuter service serves as the commuter rail backbone of the Bicol region. It was relaunched on Sept. 16, 2009, in time for the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, but was suspended due to typhoon damage and pending full rehabilitation.
Early this year, the PNR also resumed its Lucena City to San Pablo City route to service passengers traveling to and from the provinces of Quezon and Laguna.
The development and rehabilitation of the country’s rail network, including the “Bicol Express” or the old PNR line from Manila to Bicol, is among the government’s priority transportation projects.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, in a Department of Transportation press release last month, said the 147-km North-South Commuter Railway, which runs from Clark Freeport in Pampanga province to the City of Calamba in Laguna, and the 577-km South Long Haul Project from Metro Manila to Bicol, will provide much needed connectivity to Filipinos.
These rail projects, Bautista said, are also expected to generate jobs, boost economic growth, and ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.