PNR Lucena-San Pablo to Resume Operations on June 2022

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) Lucena-San Pablo is expected to resume operations before the present administration ends on June 30, the Manila Bulletin reported. 

The commuter line will have two terminal stations and four flag stops along the route, servicing commuters with 10 trips per day. The travel time between the two cities will be one hour and 32 minutes.

PNR Lucena-San Pablo stopped operations in October 2013 when an abutment along the route collapsed. Before the damage, it ran once every two days.

Unlocking Economic Potential

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) recognized the role of the commuter line in boosting the economic opportunities of the Southern Luzon region. The agency said it would facilitate commerce in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, and nearby areas. 

More than being a passenger commuter service, the rail line can serve as a commercial or cargo freight service, thereby expanding opportunities for enterprises.

The agency added that the PNR Lucena-San Pablo is instrumental in restoring PNR Bicol Express, which connects the capital region to Southern Luzon provinces, namely Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon. Parts of the long-distance rail network’s right-of-way will be used for PNR’s South Long Haul Project.

Running operations from the 1930s to the early 2000s, PNR Bicol was shut down due to the extensive damage it sustained from typhoons Reming and Milenyo.

Restoring the Bicol Express

The last update on PNR Bicol was the signing of the P142-billion contract for the first phase of the project. The DOTr awarded the contract to the joint venture of China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co. Ltd., and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. Ltd, according to Inquirer.

The contract involves the design, construction, and electromechanical works of the first 380-km stretch of PNR Bicol. It will build a total of 23 stations, 230 bridges, 10 passenger tunnels, and a 70-hectare depot in San Pablo, Laguna. It will cover four provinces and 39 cities and municipalities, as it extends from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay, connecting the capital region to Batangas and Sorsogon. 

The construction works on the Package 1 contract are slated to finish by 2024, according to DOTr. It will begin operations in the third quarter of 2025. The rest of the PNR Bicol contract packages are expected to be finished between 2024 and 2026. The entire rail line, which extends 565 kilometers, will be operational by 2027.

The passenger trains will run at a speed of up to 160 km per hour, while freight trains will run at a speed of up to 100 km per hour. 

Once the railway line runs full operations, the travel time for commuters from Metro Manila to Bicol will be four hours and 30 minutes via the express trains and six hours via the regular commuter trains, a huge difference from the current 14 to 18 hours by road.

Spurring Development in the Provinces

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recently declared CALABARZON (Region IV-A) the fastest-growing region last year, with an annual growth rate of 7.6 percent. It exceeded the national gross domestic product growth rate of 5.7 percent for 2021. 

The region is being positioned as a leading manufacturing and industrial hub in the country, Manila Times reported. 

In the 2022 Calabarzon Business Conference, Architect Jun Palafox forecasts that residents in the region will increase from 16 to 37 million by 2050. As the location establishes itself as a “flourishing” part of the country, it will pose promising opportunities for businesses and professionals.

Last February, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) announced the approval of the registration for the Quezon Techno-Industrial Special Economic Zone (QTISEZ) project, touted as the largest economic zone in the country. The venture is worth P125 billion.

Presently, Calabarzon hosts 31 industrial estates and economic zones. These business hubs supply semi-processed industrial raw materials and components to different enterprises. 

Meanwhile, the Bicol region’s economic output increased by 4.3 percent last year from -8.3 percent in 2020, as mentioned in this Business World report. In 2018, it was the fastest-growing region.

Recently, Catanduanes was named the abaca capital of the country, according to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). The province represents 89.4 percent of the region’s production and 36.2 percent of the country’s total abaca supply as of 2020. 

The provincial tourism office said that this recognition could contribute to the tourism industry’s recovery from the pandemic. 

Sources: Manila Bulletin, Inquirer, DOTr, Manila Times, PEZA, Business World, PNA

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