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The state-owned Philippine National Railways (PNR) is celebrating its 122 years as one of the oldest mass transport system in the country, with the theme "From PNR to a Progressive National Railways."

The celebration, headed by PNR General Manager Engr. Joseph Allan Dilay and officials, is held at the central office of PNR at the Tutuban Station, today, Nov. 24, with the awarding of PNR employees for their loyalty and dedication to service through the years.

"PNR is all about progress. Every year, passenger ridership increases and we have to cope with the demand and the changing times. It is no longer the alternative mode of transportation, but we aim to be the main mode of transportation even outside Metro Manila," explained Dilay.

"For the next 50 years, we aim to not only double, but triple, and maybe even more, our capacity to serve the needs of our riding public and meet the demands of the economy," he added.

The year 2014 marks a milestone for PNR. It is the year the PNR Charter (or Republic Act 4156, an Act creating the Philippine National Railways) was renewed for another 50 years by Congress. And for the first time, PNR was given a budget of P2.2 billion for the year 2015, to finance its various target projects.

"This is mostly for the improvement of various PNR infrastructure and facilities, including the repair of rolling stocks to better serve the riding public. Hopefully, in the years to come, PNR can procure brand new rolling stocks and, at the same time, improve and build new railway tracks," Dilay said.

Over the last 121 years, PNR has remained strong throughout the changes from steam engine to diesel through world wars, revolutions and calamities that caused interruption on railroad operations. The people patronizing PNR are the inspiration that keeps the trains running.

Today, PNR operates the Metro South Commuter (MSC) line that runs daily from Tutuban to Mamatid in Laguna.

The train system was founded on Nov. 24, 1892 as the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan during the Spanish colonial period, and later became the Manila Railroad Company (MRRco) at the time the Americans colonized the Philippines, transporting passengers from Manila to Dagupan. In the 1930s, the first Bicol train was put into commercial operations. During this time, the north and south railroad was inaugurated. By virtue of the RA 4156 on June 20, 1964, the corporate name MRRco changed to Philippine National Railways (PNR), an attached agency under the Department of Transportation and Communications.