The revival of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul, also known as PNR Bicol, gets a needed boost as the PNR signed Wednesday a deal for the purchase of new trains from CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive of China.
The contract for the procurement of the standard gauge Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains was signed by PNR General Manager Junn Magno and CRRC Locomotive Vice President Wang Qiaolin, with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan as witnesses.
Also witnessing the signing ceremony was CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive General Manager Fu Chengjun.
On October 23, 2019, CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co. Ltd., a Chinese firm, was declared the winning project bidder for the delivery of standard gauge DMU trains to the PNR.
“This is a very momentous occasion for us because this is where we will start the railway service and transform the Philippine National Railways. 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,” Magno said.
The project consists of three train sets of three-car formations. These train sets, which are set to arrive in the country in June 2021, will be initially deployed for long haul service from Calamba in Laguna to Naga City in Camarines Sur and eventually to Legazpi City in Albay.
Tugade expressed enthusiasm for the procurement of the new trains as this was the first time the country would have trains sets with three types of accommodation. 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 second class.
In his message, Tugade hailed anew the PNR management for its remarkable initiatives to revive the Bicol route and implement reforms to improve its services.
“Because of PNR under the leadership of Junn Magno, the retrogression that has happened in the past becomes a progressive effort to recapture the glory that was of PNR. And that is why, Junn Magno and his team, are trying to revive the glorious days of PNR by putting more stations, increasing it as we start from 17 to 35, improve the railway tracks, and would like, not only to put the railway tracks but put new trains and new coaches so that the realization of the glorious moments of Manila and Bicol will come to form,” Tugade said.
PNR used to cover 479 kilometers of tracks from Manila to Bicol until it stopped operation in 2014 due to right of way issues and lack of trains. (PR)