Philippine National Railways

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Philippine National Railways
PNR North and South map.png
Network map, showing both active (orange), inactive (black), and proposed (gray) lines.
Stations operated138
Parent companyDepartment of Transportation
HeadquartersTutuban, Tondo, Manila
Dates of operationJune 20, 1964; 57 years ago (1964-06-20)
PredecessorsManila Railway Company (d/b/a Ferrocarril de Manila a Dagupan)(November 24, 1892–1917)
Manila Railroad Company (MRR) (1917–June 19, 1964)
Track gauge
  • 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
  • 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge (future)
Electrification1,500 V DC overhead lines (by fiscal 2023)
Length78 km (48 mi) (active)[a]
Operating speed20–40 km/h (12–25 mph)[1]
Philippine National Railways
IndustryRail transport
FoundedNovember 24, 1892; 129 years ago (1892-11-24) (as Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan)
June 20, 1964; 57 years ago (1964-06-20) (as Philippine National Railways)
Area served
Metro Manila
Bicol Region
Key people
Roberto T. Lastimoso Chairman
Junn Magno, General Manager
Commuter rail
Inter-city rail
Freight services
OwnerGovernment of the Philippines under Department of Transportation

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) (Filipino: Pambansang Daang-Bakal ng Pilipinas and Spanish: Ferrocarril Nacional de Filipinas) is a state-owned railway company in the Philippines which operates one commuter rail service between Metro Manila and Laguna, and local services between Sipocot, Naga City and Legazpi City in the Bicol Region.[2] It is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation.

PNR began operations on November 24, 1892, as the Manila Railway Company, during the Spanish colonial period, and later becoming the Manila Railroad Company (MRR) during the American colonial period. It became the Philippine National Railways on June 20, 1964, by virtue of Republic Act No. 4156. PNR used to operate over 1,100 km (684 mi) of route from La Union to the Bicol Region.[3] However, neglect reduced PNR's service. Persistent problems with informal settlers in the 1990s and natural disasters in the 2000s contributed further to PNR's decline. The government is currently in the process of reinvesting in the railway through numerous projects set to revive defunct lines and create new ones.


Passengers posing in front of the "Ferrocarril de Manila y Dagupan" (c. 1885).

Spanish period[edit]

On June 25, 1875, under a royal decree issued by King Alfonso XII of Spain, the required Inspector of Public Works of the Philippine Islands was requested to submit a railway system plan for Luzon. The plan, which was submitted five months later by Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro, was entitled Memoria Sobre el Plan General de Ferrocarriles en la Isla de Luzón, and was promptly approved. A concession for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan was granted to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocarril de Manila–Dagupan (Manila–Dagupan Railway), later to become the Manila Railway Company, Ltd. of London, on June 1, 1887.[4][5]

The Ferrocarril de Manila–Dagupan, which constitutes much of the North Main Line today, began construction on July 31, 1887, with the laying of the cornerstone for Tutuban station, and the 195-kilometer (121 mi) line opened on November 24, 1892. Expansion of the Philippine railway network would not begin until the American colonial period, when on December 8, 1902, the Philippine Commission passed legislation authorizing the construction of another railway line, which would later form the South Main Line.[citation needed]

American period[edit]

Bond of the Manila Railway Company Ltd, issued 10. May 1907
The Manila Railroad Company during its peak.
Type 0-6-2 Manila Railroad Company Locomotive #17 on display at the Dagupan City Museum.

Additional legislation was passed in 1909 authorizing further railway construction and the use of government bonds to finance them, and by 1916, 792.5 kilometers (492.4 mi) of track had been built by the company, which had reorganized itself as the Manila Railroad Company of New Jersey (MRR).[6] Apart from the North and South Main Lines, other lines branching out of these two main lines were built, like the lines to Rosales and San Quintin, Pangasinan; San Jose and Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija; Dau, Carmen, Floridablanca and Arayat, all in Pampanga province, as well as inside the US Air Base Fort Stotsenburg which became Clark Air Base; Antipolo, Taytay, and Montalban, a spur line to Nielsen Field in what is now Ayala Avenue in the Makati Financial District from Culi Culi (now Pasay Road) Station, all in Rizal province; Cavite City and the nearby US Air Base of Sangley Point as well as Noveleta and Naic, both in Cavite province; Canlubang, Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan all in Laguna province; Batangas City and Bauan both in Batangas province, as well as a line connecting San Pablo City in Laguna to Luta (later Malvar) in Batangas province (this used to be part of Main Line South until a shorter cut-off line connecting Los Banos on the Santa-Cruz/Pangsanjan line to San Pablo was opened); Port Ragay in the Bicol province of Camarines Sur; as well as till Tabaco from Legaspi, Albay.[citation needed]

Similar to other railroads at the time, the Manila Railroad Company suffered from financial difficulties during World War I, and on February 4, 1916, the Philippine Assembly passed Act No. 2574, authorizing the Governor-General to negotiate for the nationalization of the MRR's assets. The MRR was eventually nationalized in January 1917, with the Philippine government paying ₱8 million to the company's owners and assuming ₱53.9 million in outstanding debt. Consequently, the MRR's management shifted from British to American hands, and in 1923, José Paez became the first Filipino general manager.[6]

During the 1920s, the MRR embarked on a general program of improvements as a result of operating surpluses accrued over much of the decade. The ₱30 million program allowed for the extension of railway service on the North Main Line from Dagupan to San Fernando in La Union, the extension of the South Main Line to Legazpi in Albay, and the construction of several spur lines. The last rail connecting Manila to Bicol was laid on November 17, 1937, and regular direct service between Manila and Legazpi was inaugurated on May 8, 1938, and by 1941, the MRR operated 1,140.5 kilometers (708.7 mi) of track.[6]

On December 14, 1941, at the start of World War II, the MRR was put under U.S. military control, and on December 30, the MRR management was ordered to allow U.S. military forces to destroy network infrastructure, resulting in very extensive damage to train facilities and right of way. Coupled with further damage during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, where the Imperial Japanese Army operated services on a very limited basis using whatever could be salvaged, and further fighting in the Allied liberation of the Philippines by the combined American and Filipino forces a few years later, damages to railroad property amounted to around ₱30 million.[6] By the end of the war, only 452 kilometers (281 mi) were operational,[4] largely as a result of the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army performing temporary repairs on railroad infrastructure for military purposes. MRR property was later returned to the Philippine government on February 1, 1946.[6]

Post-war period[edit]

Following the war, the MRR was able to restore limited services, using surplus military equipment and payments made by the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army for use of railway facilities in the Philippines Campaign. By July 1, 1947, funded by a ₱20 million rehabilitation allocation set aside by the Philippine government, around 75% of the entire railway network prior to 1941 was rehabilitated. By 1951, with the MRR receiving ₱3 million in war reparations funds, 941.9 kilometers (585.3 mi) of track, representing 82.5% of the total railway network prior to 1941, was in operation.[6] Later in the 1950s, the MRR fleet of locomotives was converted from steam to diesel locomotives.

Creation of the PNR and later decline[edit]

The PNR was created in 1964 through the Republic Act 4156 during the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal. According to the PNR's website, the agency experienced its heyday during its early years in the 1960s and early 1970s during the early years of president Ferdinand Marcos. It enjoyed thousands of daily riders in its system and had an expansive commuter rail network in and out of Metro Manila.[4]

The PNR later suffered from a multitude of reasons which contributed to its decline, including natural disasters and a lack of support from the government. Government funding during the 1970s were shifted to road-based infrastructure such as highways. On July 23, 1979, President Marcos issued Executive Order No. 546, which designated the Philippine National Railways as an attached agency of the then-Ministry of Transportation and Communications.[7] This however did not prevent the agency from suffering heavy losses. In 1983, underfunding has resulted in more cutting of services and the layoff of 1,000 employees which resulted in protests the following year.[8]

The North Main Line was later closed in stages. In 1984, services were cut short to Paniqui, Tarlac due to a bridge collapse. Services were then again cut short to Caloocan in 1988 during the term of President Corazon Aquino.[4] However, commuter services were briefly extended to Malolos starting in 1990 under the Metrotren project and was later closed in 1997.[9] When Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino, he decided to rehabilitate the South Main Line from Tutuban to Legaspi, and appointed Jose B. Dado as the new PNR general manager. A railway system running from Manila to Clark was also set to be constructed in the 1990s, when Ramos signed a memorandum of agreement with Juan Carlos I of Spain for its construction in September 1994, but the project was later cancelled due to disagreement on the source of funding.[10]

Contemporary history[edit]


The government under the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo actively pursued the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways through various investments and projects designed to revive Philippine rail transport,[4][11][12] despite the numerous problems involved. Total reconstruction of rail bridges and tracks, including replacement of the current 35-kilogram (77-pound) track with newer 50-kilogram (110-pound) tracks[12] and the refurbishing of stations, were part of the rehabilitation and expansion process. The first phase, converting all the lines of the Manila metropolitan area, were completed in 2009.[12] On July 14, 2009, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presided over the launch of the new diesel multiple units from Hyundai Rotem for the Philippine National Railways. As part of its new image, a new brand name, PNR Filtrack was added and a new PNR logo was unveiled until the succeeding administration decided to revert to the original logo.[13]

The San Cristobal bridge in Calamba, Laguna was rebuilt in May 2011. The Bicol Express train service was inaugurated on June 29, with a maiden voyage between Manila and Naga City plus a return trip back to the terminus on July 1. This inaugural trip was marred by the collapse of the embankment at Malaguico, Sipocot. It was discovered before the train passed through and was repaired. The restored Bicol Express intercity service was offered on a daily basis, running mostly during night time.

NorthRail project[edit]

On September 14, 2002, a memorandum of understanding was signed by NorthRail and China National Machinery and Equipment Group (CNMEG) for the NorthRail project.[14] The NorthRail project involved the upgrading of the existing single track to an elevated dual-track system, converting the rail gauge from narrow gauge to standard gauge, and linking Manila to Malolos in Bulacan and further on to Angeles City, Clark Special Economic Zone, Clark International Airport. The railway project was contracted out by the Arroyo administration in 2003 to China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation (CNMEC) for an original cost of $421 million.[15] This project was estimated to cost around US$500 million, with China offering to provide some US$400 million in concessionary financing.[16] Construction of the railway was halted, then temporarily continued in January 2009, and then stopped again in March 2011, due to a series of anomalies with the foreign contractor,[17] before finally being scrapped in 2011 by the Aquino administration on lingering legal issues and corruption allegations. The project was later restarted as the North–South Commuter Railway in 2013.[18]

Current developments[edit]

The PNR is currently working to revive and revitalize the railway network with the establishment of the North–South Commuter Railway, from New Clark City in Tarlac to Calamba in Laguna.[19] On May 21, 2019, DMCI won the contract for the construction of NSCR North 1.[20]

Also in the pipeline is the rehabilitation of the current South Commuter line and the reestablishment of long-haul services to the south. After nearly 20 years, PNR reopened the Metro North Commuter line, and launched the Caloocan-Dela Rosa shuttle line, on August 1, 2018.[21][22] This would be followed by a steady expansion and reintroduction of rail services to the north, currently reaching to Malabon, which has not seen rail activity for nearly 20 years. A plan to reactivate the Carmona line was bared as well,[23] and the revival of cargo rail from Port Area, Manila to Laguna is now being planned.[24][25] On December 16, 2018, all commuter services saw changes in train runs[26] and establishments of new termini, particularly in the recently revived Metro North Commuter. More train runs were added for the north currently terminating at Governor Pascual.[27]

On November 16, 2018, PNR became a provisional member of International Union of Railways.[28] On June 14, 2019, PNR became ISO-certified (ISO 9001:2015) for railway repair, rehabilitation, restoration and maintenance, train control and rolling stock maintenance, station operation and other related services. The certification was announced on October 2, 2019.[29]

Operations and services[edit]

The PNR currently operates in Metro Manila and the neighboring Laguna province. At the last years of regular intercity service along the system's entire length in the late 1980s, it served from Tutuban to San Fernando, La Union on the North Main Line and Legazpi, Albay on the South Main Line. Various branch lines also led to Batangas, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Rizal and Tarlac. One of the branch lines that led to Carmona was intended to be reopened by 2019. This was not yet realized as of March 2020, presumably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other developments.

Summary of services[edit]

Service Terminus Status
Metro South Commuter (MSC) Tutuban Alabang Operational
Tutuban Mamatid Operational
Tutuban Calamba Operational
Tutuban IRRI (UP Los Baños) Operational
Metro North Commuter (MNC) Tutuban Governor Pascual Operational
Tutuban Valenzuela Planned
Shuttle Service (SS) Governor Pascual FTI Operational
Valenzuela FTI Planned
Dela Rosa Carmona Planned
Tutuban Sucat Discontinued
Santa Mesa Sucat Discontinued
Alabang Calamba Planned
Premiere Train Tutuban Mamatid Discontinued
Bicol Commuter (BCT) Tagkawayan Naga Suspended
Sipocot Naga Operational
Naga Legazpi Operational
Bicol Express (BEx) Tutuban Naga Suspended
Tutuban Ligao Suspended
Mayon Limited Deluxe (MLD) Tutuban Ligao Discontinued; replaced by ILE
Mayon Limited Ordinary (MLO) Tutuban Ligao Discontinued; replaced by ILE
Isarog Limited Express (ILE) Tutuban Naga Suspended

Metro Commuter Line[edit]

Metro North Commuter[edit]

The reactivated Metro North Commuter ran initially from Caloocan to Makati and uses a single special fare matrix of 12.00 for ordinary, and ₱15.00 for air-conditioned. This was later extended to reach FTI in Taguig, now with a distance-based fare matrix. A Caloocan-Tutuban shuttle service also exists, using the original right-of-way once used for the Dagupan line. Originally terminating at 10th Avenue station while the historical Caloocan station was still being prepared for activation,[30] the station now terminates at its originally intended station since September 10.

DOTr and PNR are also working on reviving and reactivating rail services in areas prepared for NorthRail, such as Malabon and possibly Valenzuela. First proposed and planned last September 2018,[31] the extension to Gov. Pascual Avenue and the re-establishment of the Governor Pascual Station (formerly called Acacia Station) in Malabon has been done, with new rail ties and narrow gauge rail tracks being restored.[32] It reopened to the public on December 3, 2018.

Another extension, this time targeting Valenzuela City (likely Polo area) has been bared on August 14, 2019, and will require rebuilding a railroad bridge crossing Tullahan river that has been previously destroyed.[33]

The line is provisional and services will be potentially interrupted when the elevated tracks are to be constructed, likely after the construction of NLEX Segment 10.1. The reconstructed lines are targeted for freight use as well as part of the system's extension to the north.

The trains currently used in this service is the Hyundai Rotem DMUs and 8000 class DMUs, with the KiHa 52 DMU and KiHa 350 DMU formerly used in this service.

Metro South Commuter[edit]

The Metro Commuter (also known by then-remaining active service MSC or Metro South Commuter),[34] which was formerly called Commuter Express (also Commex), serves as the commuter rail service for the Manila metropolitan area, extending as far south as Calamba City and Los Baños, both in Laguna. The PNR uses GE locomotives such as 900 Class, 2500 Class, and 5000 Class hauling 203 series EMUs, including 18 (3 car trains, 6 sets) Hyundai Rotem DMUs, KiHa 52 DMUs, the PT INKA 8000 class DMUs, 8100 class DMUs, and the INKA CC300 locomotive with 8300 class coaches for this service. The 8000 class DMUs occasionally perform MSC trips when the Hyundai Rotem DMUs occupy the Metro North Commuter trips. The GE locomotives formerly haul 7A-2000 12 series Commex passenger coaches. MSC service using the Hyundai Rotem DMUs, KiHa 52, KiHa 350, 203 series EMUs, 8000 class and 8100 class DMUs, and the INKA CC300 locomotive with 8300 class coaches is currently offered between Tutuban and Alabang in Muntinlupa. Currently, MSC makes 42 return services, 21 in each direction.[35]

Shuttle Service[edit]

The Shuttle Service is a commuter rail service initially introduced on January 27, 2014. This service used Hyundai Rotem DMUs and JR KiHa 52. There were 2 routes of the Shuttle Service, where trains stop at all stations along the routes: TutubanSucat and Santa MesaSucat. This train service ended May 23, 2014 to conduct maintenance on the rolling stocks and due to the consecutive three weeks of delays and cancellations of this train service.

Formerly, plans for a third route plying AlabangCalamba was to be introduced sometime in 2017. This service would use the reliveried two-car KiHa 350; This did not push through in 2018. However, with the commissioning of the new DOST Hybrid Train in 2019, this route is now under test run, currently free of charge, but with limited schedules.[36]

In 2018, a new shuttle line was introduced with the 10th AvenueDela Rosa route since August 1, 2018, as part of the renovation of the line and the return of train services to Caloocan. The revived train service had its first extension towards Sangandaan, the original Caloocan station since September 10, extending through FTI.[37] Since December 3, 2018, the line was extended northwards to Governor Pascual (formerly called Acacia) in Malabon,[38] and since December 16, 2019, the shuttle service was extended southwards to Bicutan as its new terminus from FTI.[citation needed]

A new shuttle line leading to the once-abandoned Carmona branch line is planned for reopening in 2019, and will originate from the Dela Rosa station in Makati City.[39]

Bicol Commuter[edit]

The Bicol Commuter service is a commuter rail service in the Bicol Region, between stations in Tagkawayan, Quezon, and Legazpi, Albay, with Naga City in Camarines Sur acting as a central terminal. The service was launched on September 16, 2009, in time for the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City.[13] The trains made seven trips a day, alternating between Tagkawayan, Sipocot, Naga City and Legazpi. All services used KiHa 52 in revised blue livery.

After further reductions, only the service between Naga and Sipocot was operating as of December 2013.[40] Service resumed between Naga and Legazpi on September 18, 2015 with one train a day.[41]

Definitive plans to restore the entire route from Sipocot, Naga and Legazpi were bared with an inspection trip from Tutuban on September 20, 2019 with a rerailment crew, including certain areas of Quezon Province, in preparation of the restoration of more routes previously suspended.[42] As of July 15, 2020, the service has a daily ridership of 400 to 600, with a low ridership implied due to the COVID-19 community quarantines in the Philippines limiting the capacity of trains to 20%.[43]

As of 2021, the train used in this service is the KiHa 350 DMU pulled by a 5000 class locomotive. The greatly-varying land gradients in the area necessitated the locomotive's utilization.

Defunct services[edit]

Intercity services[edit]

PNR's intercity operations on its two main lines, the North Main Line and South Main Line, both located in Luzon, have been indefinitely suspended since 2014.

The South Main Line then served as the primary intercity service after the permanent closure of the northern line in 1991. However, PNR also ended its regular intercity services in 2006 due to natural disasters and poor track conditions, although the Bicol Express ran irregularly between 2009 and 2014. In Camarines Sur, liquefaction of the track's embankment caused a section of the line in Sipocot to sink. This allowed the inaugural service of the new Bicol Express in 2011 to slow down to a near-stop while passing through the area.[44]

There are plans to revitalize both lines. The North Main Line is currently reserved for building the fully-elevated portion of the North–South Commuter Railway to Capas, Tarlac. The South Main Line is planned to be rebuilt and extended to Matnog, Sorsogon. The spur line to Batangas City will also be rebuilt. Test runs along the South Main Line were conducted in September 2019. On September 21, 2019, a KiHa 59 and a rerailment train consisting of a newly repainted PNR 900 class locomotive and a CMC coach conducted a test run from Tutuban to Naga.[45]

North Main Line services[edit]

The North Main Line was first opened when the Manila–Dagupan Railway was opened in 1892. At its height between the 1950s and 1960s, the line once boasted full double-track railways from Tutuban to Dagupan and also served until San Fernando, La Union. It also had branch lines to various areas in Central Luzon. However, its services severely deteriorated in the 1980s. All regular operations outside Metro Manila ended in 1988.[46] However, there was irregular service to Meycauayan railway station until all stations in Central Luzon were closed by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.[47]

South Main Line services[edit]

Intercity services on the South Main Line ran between Manila and Legazpi between 1916 and 2014, including the intermittent Bicol Express and Mayon/Isarog Limited services between 2009 and 2014. The services also briefly extended to Sorsogon in the 1960s due to the trains' popularity as a form of transportation with the masses.[48]

Non-passenger services[edit]

SS Mayon, one of two ferries used to link two segments of the South Main Line prior to unification in 1938.

Freight services used to be a key component of PNR's operations, and the same applies to its predecessors being the Manila Railway and Railroad companies. Freight services lasted until 2003 when International Container Terminal Services used PNR tracks to transfer intermodal containers from the Port of Manila to its facility in Cabuyao, Laguna. Since then, there have been proposals to revive freight services as part of its PNR Long Haul projects.[49]

The Manila Railroad was also the owner of the Manila Hotel during its early years prior to its handover to the Government Services Insurance System.[50] They also hosted "hospital trains" in the 1930s, with 70 class tank locomotive No. 79 and a converted American Car-built express coach used as a hospital.[51]

Station list[edit]

Entire line map of PNR with major stations. Includes defunct lines.

The Philippine National Railways operates on two main lines, the North Main Line and the South Main Line, alongside three major spur lines, which served various parts of Luzon with its 138 (once) active stations.

Station layout[edit]

All PNR stations were and are presently at-grade, with most stations using a side platform layout. Most have only basic amenities, platforms and ticket booths. Rehabilitated stations along the Metro Manila line have been fitted with ramps for passengers using wheelchairs. Several stations have extended platforms, having an upper platform catering to DMU services, and a lower platform for regular locomotive-hauled services. As of August 2017, most of the stations are being extended and equipped with platform-length roofing, better ticketing office, and restrooms.

Future railway systems under the PNR, such as the North–South Commuter Railway line, will have elevated, at-grade, and depressed stations similar to that of Manila LRT and MRT stations.

Modernization and expansion plans[edit]

Color-coded lines on an outline map illustrating relative positions of existing and planned routes as described in the text
The expanded network of rail transport in the Philippines before 2016.

The PNR system has suffered from decades of neglect and therefore, several plans to restore and expand the network has been proposed by various administrations. The Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, Japan and Indonesia have contributed to these plans. Most of these concern the revitalization and modernization projects of the mainlines in Luzon.[11] The government plans a complete overhaul of the PNR system, which involves electrification and conversion from narrow gauge to standard gauge, as well as from single to double track.[52] The standard gauge system is estimated to have a total track length of around 4,000 km (2,500 mi).[53][54]

Urban rail systems[edit]

North–South Commuter Railway[edit]

The North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR) is the latest project to revitalize both the historic North and South Main Lines, particularly sections in the Greater Manila Area. First planned in the 1990s, the project's previous incarnations were hounded by funding problems and disagreements.[15][55][56][57] It finally came into shape in November 2017 after a resolution of a five-year dispute between the government and a Chinese contractor.[15] The NSCR will be a 36 station, 147 km (91 mi) elevated railway system from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna. It will be the first electrified main line in the country.[58][59] Construction oon the railway began in 2019.[60] Once fully completed by 2025, it will accommodate at least 300,000 passengers between Northern Metro Manila and Bulacan alone. While the elevated line will be served by electrified trains, the existing lines below will be used for freight trains and/or existing commuter trains.[61]

MRT Line 8[edit]

As part of the infrastructure program by president Rodrigo Duterte, East-West Rail was proposed by the East-West Rail Transit Corp., a consortium between Megawide, A. Brown Company Inc., and Private Equity Investment and Development Corp. It involves the financing, design, construction, and maintenance of a mostly-elevated rapid transit line from Diliman in Quezon City to Quiapo in Manila.[62] In 2018, the PNR has said that it will help in building and operating the line. The line will have 11 stations on 9.4 kilometers (5.8 mi) of mostly elevated track. The project is currently awaiting approval from NEDA to proceed. It is also currently tackling right-of-way issues, such as that of the España Boulevard alignment.[63]

Intercity rail systems[edit]

PNR South Long Haul[edit]

The South Long Haul project, also known as PNR Bicol, is a planned reconstruction of the intercity line between Metro Manila and the Bicol Region. Originally proposed as a simple reconstruction of the existing network at narrow-gauge and a maximum speed of 75 km (47 mi),[64] the project now involves a complete overhaul of the railway and its conversion to standard-gauge, replacing the existing line.[65] The line will be initially built as a single-track system. However, there are provisions for an upgrade to double-track or electrification in the future. Stations will be allowed to use passing sidings so that express train travel is uninterrupted.[66]

Mindanao Railway[edit]

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his support for the establishment of a railway system in the entire island of Mindanao which could be in operation after his term ends. The railway system to be built in Mindanao will have about 2,000 kilometers of track, and considered one of Rodrigo Duterte's primary infrastructure projects. The first phase, which is 105 kilometers (65 mi), would start construction in the third quarter of 2018 and was expected to be completed by 2022.[67]

Freight revival[edit]

In 2016, PNR has been interested in reviving its freight services with a planned signing of a memorandum of agreement between the railway and rail freight operator MRAIL (a Meralco subsidiary firm) for the rehabilitation of the rail lines to North Harbor and to restart the freight services starting 2017, which will also help reduce traffic congestion and truck use in the NCR.[68] If completed, MRail will jointly operate the freight service with the PNR, which will end a long absence of railway freight services in the country. This will be the second time the PNR will partner with ICTSI.[69]

A statement made by MRail Inc., a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., said that discussions regarding PNR freight service revival from Port of Manila to the Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal resulted in the appointment of a new board at the Philippine National Railways.[70] Representatives of PNR and ICTSI conducted an inspection of the ROW where the former railtracks leading to the North Harbor existed, signalling the start of the action to realize the cargo rail revival.[24]

As of 2021, the freight revival plans are currently not in effect, as with the agency's other railway plans, the cause presumed to be the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rolling stock[edit]

PNR has operated several types of locomotives, carriages and multiple units as part of its fleet. As of 2019, the rolling stock used are primarily powered by diesel. The DOST Hybrid Electric Train may also function as a battery electric multiple unit although it is started by a diesel engine. All present rolling stock are in 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in). PNR also has rail mounted cranes as supporting equipment with varying capacities from 0.5 to 30 metric tons.

In late 2019, improvements with the current rolling stocks have been seen. KiHa 59 KoGaNe, KiHa 350 Set 3, and two sets of Hyundai Rotem DMUs received a new livery with their mesh on the windows also removed. One unit of 900 Class has been overhauled and repainted to orange. PNR also have expanded their line and added more trips in their service, KoGaNe has served the Tutuban-Calamba Line (Limited Chosen Stops only) from October 24 to December 2, 2019 then got extended to IRRI in Los Baños, Laguna on December 3, 2019. KiHa 350 Set 3 also have served the Alabang-Calamba-IRRI Line but it only lasted a couple of weeks.


The Manila-Dagupan Railway, the Manila Railroad Company and the Philippine National Railways sported various liveries representing various eras of the company, usually to celebrate the arrival of new rolling stock. Each of these are painted by hand.[71]

Steam locomotive era (1892–1954)[edit]

There were no available colored images of Manila-Dagupan Railway and the Manila Railroad Company's rolling stock before the war so the color scheme of the carriages remains unknown. However, based on the surviving locomotives, the steam locomotives owned by the two companies sported a black-only livery like most of the notable American steam engines.[72]

Railmotor livery (1948)[edit]

The Cummins railmotors were colored black or white, and orange. The pre-war carriages salvaged and refurbished in the late 1940s also used this color scheme.[73]

MRR/PNR livery (1955)[edit]

Monogram of the PNR used in the 1960s. The modern PNR seal altered its colors to blue and orange.

The MRR celebrated the arrival of its first diesel rolling stock with its colors changed to dark green and yellow, or alternately to yellow-orange and dark green. The livery was retained when the Philippine government took over and renamed it the Philippine National Railways. During the transition to PNR, the old MRR monogram with a diamond-shaped seal was painted out and the PNR circular seal and monogram was placed on the front of the cab with yellow wing-like symbols outside it. The PNR acronym is also placed on the sides as well.[74] By the 1980s, the diesel multiple units will have a yellow body and the wing-like symbols are colored dark green. A few locomotives sported a yellow-orange livery at that time.

Commuter Motor Coach livery (c. 1978)[edit]

During the late 1970s, the Commuter Motor Coaches used on PNR's local train services in Metro Manila and the Bicol Region was colored white and navy blue.[75]

Metrotren livery (1990)[edit]

When President Corazon Aquino inaugurated the rebranded Manila commuter service as "Metrotren" in 1990, the CMC coaches were repainted to navy blue, white and red. This was also used for the 1998 restocking of the Bicol Express with the old Peñafrancia Express IC-888 train. This was used until the mid 2000s when both multiple unit types were changed to the navy blue livery.[76]

Philippines 2000 livery (1997)[edit]

The GE Universal Series-based 900, 2500 and 5000 classes sported a red livery celebrating Fidel Ramos' Philippines 2000 program.[77] Although the PNR revised this livery after 2000, some retained it due to lack of maintenance funds and a 900 class survived with this livery in use until 2008. Some of the freight carriages had the Philippines 2000 name spray-painted on top the old green and yellow livery.[78]

Navy blue livery (c. 2000, 2011)[edit]

DEL 921 and 203-series coach sporting the 2011-type navy blue livery.

A navy blue livery was introduced after the expiry of the Philippines 2000 program. This followed after PNR acquired locomotive-hauled 12 and 14 series coaches from Japan. There are subtle differences with the coaches used on the Commuter Express (formerly Metrotren) and the Bicol Express. The Commuter Express trainsets were navy blue with orange highlights while the Bicol Express were navy blue with gold highlights. The PNR symbol on the Commuter Express was white while on the Bicol Express was gold. The locomotives' colors were also changed to navy blue and orange.

This livery was re-introduced in 2011 although it was not used on the Bicol Express trainsets.

Filtrack livery (2009)[edit]

A Hyundai Rotem DMU with the Filtrack livery (2010)

PNR attempted to revitalize the Bicol Express in 2009 with the support of president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This was supported with a change of logo and liveries. The coaches in PNR service used white and orange while the locomotives' cabs were colored white while the PNR monogram logo was sealed out. The trains also sported the "Filtrack" brand on the coaches and on the side of the locomotives. However, this was short lived after the Bicol Express stopped its services indefinitely. By 2015, all of the rolling stock followed the 2000s navy blue livery.

INKA livery (2019)[edit]

An INKA-built PNR 8100 class with the new livery (February 2020)
A PNR 900 class locomotive with the pure orange livery (December 2019)

The PNR announced another logo change and changes to its livery in 2019. This is after the Duterte administration under the Department of Transportation announced major reforms to the PNR. The PNR's monogram is now fully incorporated on a seal-type logo, bearing the agency's name and the year it was founded. The seal was also changed from orange and blue to golden yellow and navy blue. At the same time, the rolling stock also changed its liveries with regards to the arrival of the new rolling stock from Indonesia. The 203 series-based passenger cars' liveries did not change as of 2020.

The first among the old rolling stock was the KiHa 350[79] and KiHa 59 series trains.[80] After this was the Hyundai Rotem DMUs[81] and finally, 900 series locomotives DEL 917,[82] 902, 913, 921, and 922, 5000 series locomotive DEL 5007[79] and 2500 series locomotive DEL 2540 changed its livery to orange,[83] similar to the 9000 class locomotives. All multiple units were fitted with new windows to resist stoning. The colors however varied from one type of rolling stock to another but the common theme was the inclusion of orange (as the highlight color), white (as the main stock color), navy blue (as the side line color) and black (as the bottom color).

CRRC diesel multiple unit livery (2021)[edit]

Scale model of the CRRC Zhuzhou DMU in 2019

The latest effort to the revitalization of the South Main Line, particularly the Bicol Express intercity service, was unveiled in 2019 dubbed the "South Long Haul" project. A scale model of the train that would have been used was revealed during a contract signing ceremony between the Philippine National Railways, its superior agency the Department of Transportation, and the Chinese rolling stock manufacturer CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive. The three-car train will also feature a red-orange livery with black stripes on its windows. This train would have arrived in 2021.[84]

However, on February 24, 2021, PNR cancelled the contract with CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive due to the procurement process being questioned by the Commission on Audit, and the failure of CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive to submit post-qualification bidding requirements.[85]

NSCR electric multiple unit livery (2021)[edit]

2019 scale model of the NSCR train, featuring a blue livery
A PNR EM10000 class train with the revised red-orange livery in 2021

In line with the construction of the North–South Commuter Railway, the Department of Transportation ordered 104 train cars (13 sets) of electric multiple units from Sumitomo Corporation and Japan Transport Engineering Company on July 16, 2019.[86] The original proposal featured a bluish-purple livery in the 2019 scale model of the Sustina Commuter.

However, the livery design was changed when PNR revealed a mock-up of the front cab for the PNR EM10000 class trains on June 29, 2021.[87] The livery now features a red-orange color livery and eagle design highlights on the sides of the lead cars of the train.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Total active line length, not including track length for the double-track section from Governor Pascual station in Malabon to Calamba. 479 km including the derelict and inactive South Main Line between Manila and Legazpi, but still intact as of 2021. The system meanwhile peaked at 1,140 km (710 mi) of trackage in 1941. As of 2020, the government has proposed at least quadruple the peak track length.
  2. ^ Inter-city and freight services have been suspended since 2016. The North–South Commuter Railway will be the first intercity service since the discontinuation of the Bicol Express in 2016. Construction of the line commenced in 2019. There are also plans to revitalize to freight service. See Freight revival for more information.


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]