After more than two months of suspended operations, State-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) will resume its intercity trips on Thursday, July 23.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) gave PNR the go signal to resume trips after the PNR complied with the requirements of the the third-party consultant, TUV Rheinland, which issued the certification of the rail tracks’ safety.
“According to TUV, PNR has complied with the list of things to do. Once we are satisfied, we will give PNR the go signal as soon as possible,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters early today while the TUV presentation at DOTC was still on going.
PNR and TUV officials were mum about the proceedings of the meeting at DOTC. The DOTC announced the resumption of PNR trips only shortly before 5 pm yesterday.
Abaya, together with PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay will ride the PNR from Buendia to Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue stations early today.
PNR intercity operations, however, will be limited between Tutuban in Manila to Alabang in Muntinlupa instead of up to Calamba in Laguna, according to Dilay.
In an earlier interview, Dilay said PNR trains will observe an average speed of 40 kilometers per hour instead of 50 kph for safety purposes. Furthermore, only five trains will run initially while the two others two will undergo overhauling.
To recall, the government has suspended PNR trips since May 5, following a derailment accident between EDSA and Nichols stations last April 29. Since then, the government replaced worn out PNR rails and repaired rail bolts and other accessories to ensure the integrity of the tracks.
The PNR reportedly lost at least P51 million due to foregone revenues because of suspended operations for two months. Dilay however clarified that the government-owned railway has nevertheless saved P4 million in manpower cost and P16 million in fuel expenses since it suspended trips between Manila and Laguna.
The suspension however forced at least 70,000 PNR riders to resort to alternate modes of transportation while the facility was being repaired.
Aside from the Metro South Commuter (MSC) line that serves passengers between Manila and Laguna, the PNR also operates a Bicol Commuter Service (BCS) that carries commuters between Naga City and Sipocot.
The PNR used to operate interprovincial trips between Manila to Naga until a Bicol Express train was derailed in Quezon province back in 2012. The PNR targets to redeploy Bicol Express trains before the year ends.
# # #