Albay execs tighten watch on rail route | Inquirer News

Albay execs tighten watch on rail route

BACK ON TRACK This Philippine National Railways train waits for passengers in this photo taken during the resumption of the Naga City, Camarines Sur to Legazpi City, Albay trips on Dec. 27, 2023. —REY ANTHONY OSTRIA

BACK ON TRACK | This Philippine National Railways train waits for passengers in this photo taken during the resumption of the Naga City, Camarines Sur to Legazpi City, Albay trips on Dec. 27, 2023. (File photo by REY ANTHONY OSTRIA / Inquirer Southern Luzon)

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — Two local governments in Albay have directed their village officials to deploy more personnel in areas along the Philippine National Railways (PNR) tracks after three people died over the last three months when they were hit by a train plying the routes between Albay and Camarines Sur provinces.

Polangui Mayor Adrian Salceda said he issued an executive order on Friday, directing all the village officials to assign watchmen or barangay tanod to oversee residents during train operation hours.


“I also ordered the municipal disaster risk reduction and management office to coordinate with the police to conduct orientation and distribute information campaign materials to the residents near the railroads,” Salceda said in a private chat message on Sunday.


He said the residents should take the measures seriously and avoid staying along the tracks.

The PNR train passes through eight populated villages in Polangui—Agos, Matacon, Santicon, Apad, Lanigay, Sugcad, Magurang and Basud. Some of these villages are at the town center.

Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo Jr. of Camalig town in Albay said village watchmen were also advised to monitor and clear the train tracks during the scheduled travel of the trains, especially in populated areas.

“The residents should also know the scheduled time of arrival of the PNR trains, so they are also aware since the time of its operation is regular,” Baldo said in a phone interview on Sunday.

He said the village watchmen were also deployed in railroad crossings to ensure the safety of the residents, particularly in the villages of Tagaytay, Cumon, Taladong, and Binitayan in Camalig.

3 deaths

After being left idle for years, the Albay-Camarines Sur train tracks were rehabilitated, with train routes finally opened last year.


The route between Naga City in Camarines Sur and Ligao City in Albay began in July 2023 while the route linking Naga to Legazpi City, Albay’s capital and the regional center of Bicol, resumed on Dec. 27, 2023.

According to PNR Bicol, they have four train trips every day plying the Naga-Legazpi and vice versa route with stopover in Ligao City. Each trip caters to around 250 passengers.

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.

On Friday night, a 21-year-old man died after he was accidentally bumped by the PNR train in Barangay Sugcad in Polangui. Initial investigation of the police said the victim’s body was discovered near the railroad tracks.

On Nov. 6, 2023, another PNR train accidentally ran over a 29-year-old man who fell into the steel track when he suffered an epileptic seizure in Barangay Apad, also in Polangui.

On Nov. 28 last year, a 50-year-old man with hearing impairment also died after he was hit by a train in Barangay Concepcion Pequeña in Naga City.The PNR Bicol, when sought for comment on these incidents, said in a text message to the Inquirer that the agency would issue its statement at a later date regarding the “sensitive” matter.

Shared responsibility

Police Brig. Gen. Andre Perez Dizon, Bicol police chief, said they also ordered their personnel to help the village watchmen in reminding the residents to avoid loitering along the railroad tracks.

Dizon said more early warning signs should be installed near the railways since most of the areas were more populated now compared to the previous years of train operations.

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“We have ongoing coordination with the local government units with railroad tracks to ask help from village officials to inform their residents about the operation of the train. Even if we consider these death incidents as accidents, we need shared responsibility of authorities, management of PNR, the local government units, and villages,” Dizon said in a private chat message on Sunday.

TAGS: Philippine National Railways, train accident, train safety

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