Rail transport in the Philippines

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Philippines
Operation
Major operatorsGovernment: DoTr (PNR)
Private: LRMC, MRTC, MRT7I
System length
Total212.4 km (132.0 mi)[a][b]
Double track78.3 km (48.7 mi)[a][b]
Track gauge
1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)161.8 km (100.5 mi)
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)50.3 km (31.3 mi)[a][b]
Electrification
750 V DC36.55 km (22.71 mi)
1,500 V16.75 km (10.41 mi)[a]
Features
Longest bridge0.41 km (0.25 mi)
Padre Zamora Bridge[c]

Rail transportation in the Philippines presently is used mostly to transport passengers within Metro Manila and the nearby province of Laguna, as well as a commuter service in the Bicol Region. Freight transport is nonexistent, although there are plans for a revival from Port Area, Manila to Laguna,[1] and a cargo train planned between Subic and Clark.[2] Currently, the country has a railway footprint of only 212 kilometers (132 mi) through Line 1, Line 2, Line 3 and the Philippine National Railways' (PNR) Metro Commuter Line, although the government has stated to expand the network by 244 kilometers (152 mi) in Luzon[3][4], as well as building the 102 km (63 mi)[5] first phase of the 1,550 kilometers (960 mi)[6] Mindanao Railway expansion.

The Philippine railway network consists of two commuter rail services provided by PNR, and three mass rapid transit systems operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority and Metro Rail Transit Corporation. Within the last century, there were operating intercity rail lines extending from Manila both north and south, as well as on Panay and Cebu islands. The Philippine Railway Company, which operated both the Panay and Cebu lines, still exists but owns no rolling stock or rail, only property.[7]

On-going railway projects include, among other planned projects listed in this article, the 22.8-kilometer Line 7[8], the 11.7 kilometer Line 1 South Extension, the 4 kilometer Line 2 East Extension, the Metro Manila Subway (Line 9) and the first phase of the 147 kilometer North–South Commuter Railway (PNR Clark 1).[9]

History[edit]

Luzon[edit]

The "Ferrocarril de Manila a Dagupan" (ca 1885)

There has been rail transport in the Philippines for over 120 years.[10] On June 25, 1875, King Alfonso XII of Spain promulgated a Royal Decree directing the Office of the Inspector of Public Works of the Philippines to submit a general plan for railroads on Luzon.[11] 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 City was granted to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan on June 1, 1887.[12] The construction and running of the railway was done by Manila Railway Company Ltd that was a British owned company.[13] The first rail tracks were laid in 1891 and its first commercial run was in 1892.[12]

With the American takeover of the Philippines, the Philippine Commission allowed the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company (MERALCO) to take over the properties of the Compañia de los Tranvias de Filipinas,[14] with the first of twelve mandated electric tranvia (tram) lines operated by MERALCO opening in Manila in 1905.[15] At the end of the first year around 63 kilometers (39 mi) of track had been laid.[16] A five-year reconstruction program was initiated in 1920, and by 1924, 170 cars serviced many parts of the city and its outskirts.[16] Although it was an efficient system for the city's 220,000 inhabitants, by the 1930s the streetcar network had stopped expanding.[15][16][17]

At the Tutuban Central Terminal in a bustling district of old Manila was the terminal of the Philippine National Railways for two lines, to the north and to the south.[10] From the center of Manila towards Baguio in the north, the line ended in San Fernando, La Union while the south line stopped in Legazpi in the Bicol region. To and from these points it carried people and their goods, their trade and livelihood.

Most of the improvements on the rail network were destroyed during Japanese invasion of the Philippines during the World War II. Of the more than a thousand route-kilometers before the war, only 452 were operational after it. For several years after the war, work was undertaken on what could be salvaged of the railroad system.[18] By the war's end, the tram network was also damaged beyond repair amid a city that lay in ruins. It was dismantled and jeepneys became the city's primary form of transportation, plying the routes once served by the tram lines.[15] With the return of buses and cars to the streets, traffic congestion became a problem.

In 1966, the Philippine government granted a franchise to Philippine Monorail Transport Systems (PMTS) for the operation of an inner-city monorail.[19] The monorail's feasibility was still being evaluated when the government asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to conduct a separate transport study.[17] Prepared between 1971 and 1973, the JICA study proposed a series of circumferential and radial roads, an inner-city rapid transit system, a commuter railway, and an expressway with three branches.[17] After further examination, many recommendations were adopted; however, none of them involved rapid transit and the monorail was never built. PMTS' franchise subsequently expired in 1974.[20] Another study was performed between 1976 and 1977, this time by Freeman Fox and Associates and funded by the World Bank. It originally suggested a street-level railway, but its recommendations were revised by the newly formed Ministry of Transportation and Communications (now the DOTr). The ministry instead called for an elevated system because of the city's many intersections.[15]

Creation of the Light Rail Transit Authority[edit]

Below, on elevated tracks surrounded by a daytime urban landscape of roads, cars, buildings, and billboards, a metro train approaches, its front driver's window framed on the sides by angled planes and yellow markings visible as the rest of the train trails behind curving slightly to the right into the distance.
A Line 1 train approaching EDSA station

President Marcos created the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) in 1980. The first lady Imelda Marcos, then governor of Metro Manila and minister of human settlements, became its first chairman. Construction of Line 1 started in September 1981, test-run in March 1984, and the first half of Line 1, from Baclaran to Central Terminal, opened on December 1, 1984. The second half, from Central Terminal to Monumento, opened on May 12, 1985. Overcrowding and poor maintenance took its toll a few years after opening. With Japan's ODA amounting to 75 billion yen in total, the construction of Line 2 began in the 1990s, and the first section of the line, from Santolan to Araneta Center-Cubao, was opened on April 5, 2003.[21] The second section, from Araneta Center-Cubao to Legarda, was opened exactly a year later, with the entire line being fully operational by October 2004.[22] During that time the Line 1 was modernized. Automated fare collection systems using magnetic stripe plastic tickets were installed; air-conditioned trains added; pedestrian walkways between Lines 1, 2, and the privately operated 3 were completed.[23] In 2005, the LRTA made a profit of ₱68 million, the first time the agency made a profit since the Line 1 became operational in 1984.[24]

Attempts at rehabilitation[edit]

Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration (2001-2010) worked to rehabilitate rail transportation in the country, including the Philippine National Railways, through various investments and projects.[12][25] Total reconstruction of rail bridges and tracks, including replacement of the current 35-kilogram (77-pound) track with newer 50-kilogram (110-pound) tracks and the refurbishing of stations, were part of the rehabilitation and expansion process. Much of those plans such as the Northrail Project were controversial and were never completed, due to allegations of being overpriced and anomalous.[26]

Expansion[edit]

The current administration under Rodrigo Duterte is seeking to expand and rehabilitate the current rail system in Luzon. Projects include the North–South Commuter Railway, a 147 kilometer commuter railway from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna,[27][28] the Metro Manila Subway Line 9, a 36 kilometer underground rapid transit line from Quezon City to Taguig and NAIA Terminal 3,[29][30] the Line 1 South Extension, which would extend Line 1 from Baclaran to Niog, the Subic-Clark Railway, a freight line from Subic to Clark,[31] the PNR Batangas Railway, a new branch line serving commuters to and from Batangas, and the PNR South Long Haul, a total reconstruction and expansion of the Bicol Express from Manila to Matnog.[27]

The current PNR service is also being expanded, with the PNR Metro Commuter now servicing Caloocan and Malabon.[32][33] PNR is also planning to reintroduce services to the Carmona branch line sometime in 2019.[34] New rolling stock was also acquired from PT INKA in Indonesia.[35]

Line 3, which was in poor condition under Busan Universal Rail, Inc.,[36] will also undergo a total rehabilitation in 2019, which is intended to restore it to its original state.[37][38]

Panay[edit]

Engine of the Panay Railways on display in a plaza of Iloilo City.

From the beginning of the American colonial period of the Philippines, the new American colonial Insular Government was committed to building new railways. The Philippine Railway Company, predecessor of the current Panay Railways, was incorporated in Connecticut on March 5, 1906.[39] It was part of a "Manila syndicate", a collection of Philippine infrastructure companies including the Manila Electric Railway and Light Company, incorporated in New Jersey, the Manila Construction Company, and the Manila Suburban Railways Company.[40] Later the Philippines Railways Construction Company was added.[40] Cornelius Vanderbilt and William Salomon, among other leading American railwaymen sat on the board.

On May 28, 1906, the Philippine Commission granted to the Philippine Railway Corporation a concession to construct railways on the islands of Panay, Negros and Cebu.[41]

Construction began on a railroad from Iloilo City to Roxas City in Capiz with crews working from both cities and meeting in the middle in 1907.[39] Operations began immediately upon completion.[39] In 1985, passenger operations ceased while in 1989 freight operations ceased.[42]

Cebu[edit]

The Philippine Railway Company, along with operating the Panay line, operated a line in Cebu from 1911 to 1942, when operations ceased because of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II.[43] The line ran from Danao south through Cebu City to Argao.[44] The line was built by the related Philippine Railways Construction Company.[45]

Commuter rail[edit]

A former JR East 203 series hauled by a diesel locomolive at Vito Cruz station.

The Philippine National Railways is a state-owned railway system in the Philippines, organized under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as an attached agency. Established during the Spanish colonial period, the modern PNR was developed only in 1984. It formerly operated around 479 kilometres of track on the island of Luzon, where most Philippine rail infrastructure is located. Because of this, PNR has become synonymous with the Philippine rail system.

A portion of the PNR network, specifically the Metro Manila portion of the network called the Philippine National Railways Metro Commuter Line, is part of the Strong Republic Transit System (SRTS),[46] and overall public transport system in the metropolis. It forms the backbone of all of Metro Manila's regional rail services, which extend to its suburbs and to provinces such as Laguna. However, other than reducing growing traffic congestion due to the rising number of motor vehicles in Metro Manila,[47] PNR also aims to link key cities within the Philippines efficiently and to serve as an instrument in national socio-economic development.[48]

However, the meeting of that goal has been beset with problems regarding degraded infrastructure and a lack of government funding,[49] problems that are being rectified with current rehabilitation efforts. The rehabilitation of PNR, which has been touted by various administrations, seeks to not only tackle those problems, but also to spur Philippine economic growth through an efficient railway system. In 2007 the Philippine government initiated a rehabilitation project aiming to remove informal settlers from the PNR right-of-way, revitalize commuter services in Metro Manila, and restore the Manila-Bicol route as well as lost services in Northern Luzon. In July 2009, PNR unveiled a new corporate identity and inaugurated new rolling stock.[50]

Manila Metro Rail network map (includes proposed and under construction lines)

Rapid transit[edit]

A Line 1 train of the LRTA System at the Blumentritt Station
A Line 2 train at the platform of the J. Ruiz Station
A Line 3 train at the platform of the North Avenue station

LRTA System (Lines 1 and 2)[edit]

The Manila Light Rail Transit System is the main metropolitan rail system serving the Metro Manila area of the Philippines. There are two lines to the system: Line 1, called the Yellow Line, and Line 2, called the Purple Line. Although the system is referred to as a "light rail" system, arguably because the network is mostly elevated, the system is more akin to a rapid transit (metro) system in European-North American terms. The Manila LRTA system is the first metro system in Southeast Asia, earlier than the Singapore MRT by three years.[51] The system serves 605,000 passengers each day. Every day around 430,000 passengers board the Yellow Line, and 175,000 ride the Purple Line.[52][53]

Its 31 stations along over 31 kilometers (19 mi) of mostly elevated track form two lines. Line 1, also called the Yellow Line, opened in 1984 and travels a north–south route. All of the stations of Lines 1 and 2 are elevated, except for the Katipunan station (which is underground). They follow one of two different layouts. Most Yellow Line stations are composed of only one level, accessible from the street below by stairway, containing the station's concourse and platform areas separated by fare gates.[54]

Many passengers who ride the system also take various forms of road-based public transport, such as buses, to and from a station to reach their intended destination.[55] Beep, a contactless smart card, is used to pay fares for the lines.

The system is not related to the Manila Metro Rail Transit System, or the Yellow Line, which forms a completely different but linked system.

Metro Rail System (Line 3)[edit]

Main articles: Manila Metro Rail Transit System, Manila Metro Rail Transit System Line 3 and Manila Metro Rail Transit System Line 7

The Manila Metro Rail Transit System has a single line, Line 3 or the Blue Line. Although it has characteristics of light rail, such as the type of rolling stock used, it is more akin to a rapid transit system. It is not related to the Manila Light Rail Transit System, a separate but linked system.

One of its original purposes was to decongest Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), one of Metro Manila's main thoroughfares and home to the Line 3, and many commuters who ride the system also take road-based public transport, such as buses, to reach the intended destination from a station. The system has been only partially successful in decongesting EDSA, and congestion is further aggravated by the rising number of motor vehicles.[47] The expansion of the system to cover the entire stretch of EDSA is expected to contribute to current attempts to decongest the thoroughfare and to cut travel times. The single line serves 13 stations on 16.95 kilometres (10.5 mi) of line.[56] It is mostly elevated, with some sections at grade or underground. The line commences at North Avenue and ends at Taft Avenue (Taft on the map), serving the cities that EDSA passes through: Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Pasay. By 2004, Line 3 had the highest ridership of the three lines, with 400,000 passengers daily.[57]

Under construction[edit]

Line 1 South Extension Project[edit]

An ongoing extension of Line 1 that will add 8 stations over some 11.7 kilometers (7.3 mi) of new line, starting from its southern terminus at Baclaran station in Pasay up to Bacoor in the province of Cavite.

Line 2 East Extension Project[edit]

An artist's perspective of Balagtas Station of NSCR

The current 13.8-kilometer long Line 2 will be extended by another 4 kilometers eastward, starting from the eastern terminus of Santolan station in Pasig up to Masinag, Antipolo in the province of Rizal. It will add two new stations. The estimated completion date is on the last quarter of 2020.

Line 7[edit]

Line 7 is an under construction rapid transit line in the Philippines. When completed, the line will be 22.8 kilometres (14.2 mi) serviced by 14 stations that runs from San Jose del Monte in the province of Bulacan up to the under construction Unified Grand Central Station in Quezon City. Construction started on April 2016, and its estimated completion date is 2020.

Line 9[edit]

MMDA Chairperson Francis Tolentino said that a proposal to build a subway from the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig to an area near a shopping mall in Quezon City. Tolentino also said that the proposal has been complete with geological study showing that a subway is feasible, and that the project is supported by DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.[58]

The subway system, costing about ₱358.25 billion (US$7 billion) was approved by the National Economic Development Authority in September 12, 2017.[59]

North-South Commuter Railway[edit]

On December 22, 2017, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade signed a contract with JICA for the construction, supervision and bidding assistance of Phase 1 of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark project linking Tutuban in Divisoria, Manila, to the City of Malolos in Bulacan province.[60] Pre-construction commenced in January 2018.[9][61] NSCR North 1 is expected to be finished by 2021, with the rest of the line to open by 2023.

Planned or Proposed[edit]

Automated Guideway Transit System[edit]

Bicutan AGT[edit]

The Bicutan Automated Guideway Transit System is an automated guideway transit (AGT) system under construction and development as of 2011 within the City of Taguig the Philippines. It will serve as test track for the second mass transit system to be built and developed in the country by local engineers.

Monorails[edit]

Baguio-La Trinidad monorail[edit]

In December 2013, the Metals Industry Research and Development Center of the DOST and the Baguio City government entered into a memorandum of understanding for the conduct of a study on the possible use of mass transport system in the city, particularly tramline and monorail.[62] The project feasibility study is now on its final stages and that appropriate validation and evaluation are being undertaken by technical personnel it is finalized and ready for submission to concerned local governments for approval and consideration. He also said that the DOTr will help in sourcing out funds for the eventual realization of the new transport project in the city.[63]

Davao Monorail[edit]

A 28-kilometer monorail project has been endorsed by the City Government of Davao to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Philippine National Railways (PNR).[64]

Iloilo Monorail[edit]

BYD, a Shenzhen-based company is conducting a two-month feasibility study to construct a monorail in Iloilo. They expect the first phase of the 20-kilometer (12-mile) system to start operations in 2019.[65][66]

Philippine National Railways[edit]

Line 8 (East-West Rail Project)[edit]

Line 8 or the PNR East-West Line Project is a proposed 9.4-kilometer railway line from Diliman, Quezon City up to Lerma Street in the City of Manila. The line is being planned to have 11 stations. The proposal was submitted by the consortium of East West Rail Transit Corporation and AlloyMTD.

PNR South Long-Haul Project[28][edit]

Along with the Mega Manila Subway project, the National Economic Development Authority also approved the construction of the Manila–Matnog railway, and reconstruction of the railway line into Batangas City, the latter being part of the PNR Long-Haul Railway system.[59] The Long-Haul Railway will involve reconstruction of the old line to Bicol and also reconstruction of the line to Batangas City, both as standard-gauge lines initially to operate on single-track configuration. The project is set on 2021.[59]

Manila-Laguna Freight Rail Revival[edit]

The Department of Transportation said it plans to revive the operation of a container cargo rail from Port Area in Manila to Laguna province.[1] The tracks towards the berths of Manila International Container Terminal and Manila North Harbor to Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal in Calamba, Laguna will be revived to restart the container cargo service.[1]

Rapid transit[edit]

Line 2 West Extension Project[edit]

There is a proposal for a 3.02-kilometer (1.88 mi) west extension for Line 2. The construction of this said extension would add three stations, one in Tutuban near the Tutuban Centermall and the PNR Tutuban Station, one in Divisoria close to the district of San Nicolas, and its terminus would be near the North Port Passenger Terminal at Pier 4 in the Manila North Harbor. DOTr is aiming to finish the project by 2022. Construction is expected to begin in October 2018.[67]

Line 5 (Makati Subway)[edit]

On June 20, 2018, IRC Properties Inc. and its Chinese partners secured an ‘original proponent status’ from the city government of Makati for the proposed $3.7-billion Makati intra-city rail transport system.[68][69] Under the proposal, the project would consist of eight to 10 stations in Makati. Its length would be 11 kilometers. It will be interconnecting with Line 3, the proposed Metro Manila Subway and Pasig River ferry.[68] The estimated total cost of the project is $3.7 billion.[68]

Cebu LRT[edit]

As part of the Metro Cebu Integrated Intermodal Transport System, Cebu LRT will address the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Cebu.[70] It will be partially operational by 2020, and will have a BRT feeder line.[71] It will connect Carcar City and Danao City.[70]

Mindanao railway system[edit]

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his support for the establishment of a railway system in the entire island of Mindanao which may be in operation after his term ends. The railway system to be built in Mindanao will have about 2,000 kilometers of trackage, and considered one of Rodrigo Duterte's primary infrastructure projects. The first phase, which is 105 km, will start construction in the third quarter of 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2022.[72] The initial railway will connect the cities of Tagum, Davao City, and Digos in Davao Region, with planned extension to connect other major cities in Mindanao, such as General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City, Cotabato City and Butuan.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Operational length. With the completion of the NSCR, another 147 km (91 mi) of electrified double-track will be added.
  2. ^ a b c Does not include MRT and LRT lines under construction.
  3. ^ Longest bridge in the present PNR network. Does not include the fully-elevated MRT and LRT systems.

References[edit]

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