Bicol Express Train Route resumes, new trains cut travel time by 80%

Bicol Express Train Route
The PNR Bicol will be the new South Long Haul train system. Photo of DMU train design from DOTr.

Travelers from Bicol and surrounding provinces can look forward to cutting their travel time by as much as 80 percent when the Bicol Express Train Route resumes operations with all new trains.

The resumption of the railway service in the Bicol region was announced by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) after the agency signed a contract for the delivery of new trains for the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul or PNR Bicol.

The PNR says it has always been known for its long haul service the Penafrancia Express and the Bicol Express but it uses the donated passenger coaches from Japan to serve Manila to Legazpi service. It used to cover 479 kilometers service from Manila to Bicol. The last operation was in 2014. It stopped operation because of right of way challenges, and lack of trains.

The new move is a major step in the rehabilitation and revitalization of the famous Bicol Express Train Route.

PNR General Manger Junn Magno regarded the contract signing as a momentous occasion to restart the railway service and the future of the Philippine National Railways.

Magno said that “this train will represent the first trip for the South Long Haul Project or what we call the PNR Bicol and it would cut down significantly 80 percent of the travel time between Manila and the Bicol region.”

The PNR Bicol project consists of three train sets and car formations. These train sets, which are set to be delivered to the country by June 2021, will be initially earmarked for the “Long Haul” service from Manila to Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, and Albay provinces.

This phase of the PNR Bicol project will traverse from Calamba City in Laguna to Legazpi City in Albay which is set to start construction in the 2nd quarter of 2020.

CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co. ltd., a Chinese firm, was declared in December 2019 as the winning project bidder for the delivery of standard gauge Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains to the PNR.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade expressed his enthusiasm for the procurement of the new trains. For the first time, he says, the country will have trains that have three sets of accommodation available for commuters.

The DMU trains will feature business class, first class, and second class accommodations. The trains can accommodate 168 passengers with 36 seats for business class, 52 seats for first class, and 80 seats for the second class.

Bicol International Airport, the most scenic gateway to Mayon Volcano, opens in Albay this July 2020.

The PNR had also launched new trains and routes for faster travel for Laguna and Manila commuters.

SEND cheers in the comments below to the people and travelers of the Bicol region for the upcoming faster travel to the region!

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Eldan is an experienced online content writer who finds fulfillment in sharing the good side of the news to Filipinos.