Train Systems in the Philippines: The Ultimate Guide

The Philippines saw its first railway system back in the 1890s, the line extending from Manila to Dagupan in Pangasinan, covering 195 kilometers. Officially called the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan, it served as the bridge between the capital to the towns in the north of Luzon. More than a century later, modernized train systems are all over the country, serving different key areas and making business and trade more convenient and efficient.

In this article, we will explore the different railway systems in the Philippines, where they operate, how many stations there are for each, and all other facts you need to know.

Light Rail Transit (LRT) System

Popularly called the LRT, this transport infrastructure has two operational lines, Line 1 and Line 2. The Manila LRT is the first metro system in Southeast Asia. Both lines serve more than a hundred thousand passengers every day. Line 1 opened to the public in 1984, while Line 2 welcomed passengers in 2003.

LRT-1

Stretching over 20 kilometers, the elevated LRT-1 connects two cities in the capital region, Pasay and Caloocan City. There are 113 trains currently operating, accommodating half a million passengers daily and running at a maximum speed of 60 kph. Here are more important things you should know about the LRT-1:

LRT-1 Stations

There are currently 20 LRT-1 train terminals. Here’s the full LRT-1 station list, outlined with popular residential buildings as landmark guides:

LRT-1 Stations Interesting Facts

    • Baclaran LRT Station is the nearest station to the line’s depot, where the trains are stored and maintained.
    • EDSA Station is connected to the Taft Avenue station via Metro Point Mall, allowing commuters to transfer from one train line to another.
    • Carriedo Station is the only station on the entire LRT-1 line that has a canopy roof. The rest are fully-roofed. 
    • Central Terminal, Manila is one of the few stations in the train system that allows riders to board the train going in the opposite direction without paying a new fare, all thanks to the station’s layout. The other stations that permit this are Carriedo, Roosevelt, and Balintawak stations.
    • Bambang Station is the most popular jump-off point for the best ukay-ukay stores in Manila.

LRT-1 Extensions

From the initial 20-kilometer stretch, the train system will have an additional 11.7 kilometers of new elevated railway, increasing the number of areas included in the LRT station list. The Cavite Extension Project will have eight stations, which will be in Redemptorist, Manila International Airport, Asia World, Ninoy Aquino Avenue, Dr. Santos Avenue, Las Piñas, Zapote, and Niog in Bacoor. On top of this, there are plans to include stations in Manuyo Uno in Las Piñas and Talaba in Bacoor. 

LRT-1 Operating Hours

The LRT-1 train schedule is as follows:

  • The first train leaves at 4:30AM.
  • The last train from the first station Baclaran departs at 9:15PM, and at 9:30PM from the last station Roosevelt.
  • The LRT-1 hours change at certain times of the year. Usually, the schedule shortens during the Holy Week, and extends during the Christmas season, with the LRT’s closing time reaching as late as 11PM.

LRT-1 Fare Matrix

The regular fare in LRT-1 ranges from P15 to P30. The stored value, on the other hand, ranges from P11 to P29. Here’s the LRT-1 fare matrix:

LRT-1 Single Journey Fare Matrix
LRT-1 Single Journey Fare Matrix – Photo via Light Rail Transit Authority

LRT-1 Stored Value "Beep" Fare Matrix
LRT-1 Stored Value “Beep” Fare Matrix – Photo via Light Rail Transit Authority

LRT-1 Extension Updates

The LRT-1 is currently under an extension project, also known as the LRT-1 Cavite extension, stretching the railway from the Baclaran station to Bacoor in Cavite. Last January, Inquirer reported that the project was already halfway finished, due to partially operate by the end of the year. Once operational, the railway system will cut travel time from Manila to Cavite from an hour to 25 minutes. From 500,000, the accommodation capacity of the transport infrastructure expands to 800,000 passengers a day.

LRT-2

A 15-kilometer elevated railway system, this line connects two Metro Manila cities, Pasig and Manila, traversing key locations in the region. It serves about 200,000 passengers daily running at a maximum speed of 60 kph. Here are other important things you should know about LRT-2:

LRT-2 Stations

There are currently 11 LRT-2 stations, spread across key locations. They are summarized here below, along with popular residential communities as landmark guides:

LRT-2 Stations Interesting Facts

    • Katipunan Station is the first and only underground air-conditioned station along the LRT-2 route
    • Legarda Station is the most popular station among students since it’s close to academic institutions like the University of the East, San Sebastian College, San Beda University, and Centro Escolar University.
    • Recto LRT Station is the first and the last station for commuters headed to and from Antipolo, respectively.

LRT-2 Extensions

Similar to the LRT-1, the LRT-2 has undergone extension works. From the initial15-kilometer railway, the train system stretched further for 3.8 kilometers towards Antipolo. The East Extension Project added two more stations: Antipolo along Masinag and Marikina–Pasig in Marikina. 

The addition of these stations expanded the capacity of the system, bringing in 80,000 more passengers daily. Travel time between Recto in Manila and Masinag in Antipolo, the two ends of the railway, will be reduced to 40 minutes.

Plans to extend the railway system to the West are also underway. The West Extension Project will add three more kilometers of railway and three more stations to the LRT2 route. The stations include Tutuban, Divisoria, and Pier 4.

LRT-2 Operating Hours

The LRT-2 time schedule is as follows:

  • The first train leaves at 5:00 AM. The LRT-2’s last trip is at 8:30PM at Santolan, and at 9:00 PM from the last station Recto.
  • Similar to LRT-1, the train system shortens its operations during Holy Week and extends during the Christmas season.

LRT-2 Fare Matrix

The regular fare in LRT-2 ranges from P15 to P25 depending on the covered distance between LRT-2 stations. The stored value, on the other hand, ranges from P11 to P24. Here’s the LRT-2 fare matrix:

LRT-2 Single Journey Fare Matrix
LRT-2 Single Journey Fare Matrix – Photo via Light Rail Transit Authority

LRT-2 Stored Value "Beep" Fare Matrix
LRT-2 Stored Value “Beep” Fare Matrix – Photo via Light Rail Transit Authority

LRT-2 Extension Updates

Similar to the LRT-1, the LRT-2 has undergone extension works. The transport infrastructure was stretched to accommodate two more stations in Marikina and Antipolo. They were supposed to begin operations last April 2021, but it was postponed to June because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The addition of these stations expanded the capacity of the system, bringing in 80,000 more passengers daily. Travel time between Recto in Manila and Masinag in Antipolo, the two ends of the railway, will be reduced to 40 minutes.

Metro Rail Transit (MRT) System

Popularly called the MRT, the transport infrastructure has one line currently in operation, another under construction, and another that will be built soon. The one that’s presently running called the MRT-3 opened in 1999. Over the last years, the government has procured MRT new trains to accommodate the growing demands of the riding public.

MRT-3

Stretching over 16 kilometers, this train system primarily serves the key cities of Metro Manila, as the MRT route connects the north and south of the capital region. The original ridership capacity of the train was 350,000 per day, but in 2016, it peaked to half a million, as the travel time of trains increased. A total of 21 MRT trains operate in the transport infrastructure.

MRT-3 Stations

There are currently 13 train stops in the MRT system. Here’s the full MRT-3 station list, outlined with popular residential buildings as landmark guides:

The last station of the MRT-3 is connected to LRT1’s EDSA station via Metropoint Mall.

MRT-3 Stations Interesting Facts

  • North Avenue Station is the closest station to the MRT-3’s underground depot, where the trains are kept and maintained.
  • Quezon Avenue Station is one of the few train stops in Metro Manila that is directly linked to a shopping mall. It’s connected to Centris Station and Centris Walk shopping centers within the integrated township of Eton Centris.
  • Araneta Center-Cubao Station is named after Araneta City, a mixed-use estate that hosts popular shopping malls, namely Gateway Mall, Ali Mall, and Farmers Plaza.
  • Taft Avenue Station provides access to the LRT-1 train system, allowing commuters to conveniently reach Roosevelt and Baclaran LRT stations. 

MRT-3 Operating Hours

The MRT-3 time schedule is as follows:

  • The first trip at North Avenue station is at 4:37AM.
  • The first trip at Taft Avenue is at 5:17AM.
  • The last trip at North Avenue station is at 9:30PM.
  • The last trip at Taft Avenue is at 10:10PM.
  • The MRT-3 hours change at certain times of the year. Usually, the schedule shortens during the Holy Week, and extends during the Christmas season.

MRT-3 Fare Matrix

The regular fare in MRT-3 ranges from P13 to P28 depending on the covered distance between MRT stations. Calculate your single journey ticket price by using this platform.

MRT Construction Updates

As mentioned earlier, the MRT system is about to have two more lines in the next few years. The one under construction is the MRT-7 train, with the civil works beginning in 2017. It’s expected to run full operations in December 2022 and serve 300,000 to 850,000 passengers daily. The rapid transit line extends almost 23 kilometers, connecting the province of Bulacan and Quezon City. Below are the 14 MRT-7 train stations:

  • North Avenue
  • Quezon Memorial Circle
  • University Avenue 
  • Tandang Sora
  • Don Antonio
  • Batasan
  • Manggahan
  • Doña Carmen
  • Regalado
  • Mindanao Avenue 
  • Quirino
  • Sacred Heart
  • Tala
  • San Jose del Monte

Meanwhile, the MRT line that will be constructed in 2023 is the MRT-4. It’s expected to accommodate 220,000 passengers daily. Connecting the province of Rizal to the capital region, the 15-kilometer MRT-4 line has these 11 stations: 

  • Bonny Serrano
  • Greenhills
  • Edsa
  • Meralco 
  • Tiendesitas
  • Rosario
  • St. Joseph
  • Cainta
  • San Juan
  • Tikling
  • Manila East Road

PNR Metro Commuter Line

This train system operated by the Philippine National Railways has two metro commuter lines, namely Metro North Commuter and Metro South Commuter, as well as shuttle services servicing key cities in the capital region. Metro North and Metro South meet in Tutuban station in Tondo, Manila. Last January 2021, there were new PNR trains sourced abroad, boosting the passenger capacity of the train transport infrastructure.  

Metro North Commuter Line

The Metro North Commuter Line extends from Tutuban to Governor Pascual in Malabon. The government has plans to extend the railway line up to Valenzuela, which will bring up daily passenger capacity to 120,000 if the project pushes through.

Metro North Commuter Line Stations 

There are six stations in the Metro North Commuter Line:

  • Tutuban 
  • Solis 
  • C-3
  • Asistio Avenue 
  • Caloocan/Sangandaan 
  • Governor Pascual

The Governor Pascual-Bicutan Shuttle Service, which services the northern areas as well, has these stations:

  • Governor Pascual
  • Sangandaan 
  • Asistio Avenue 
  • 5th Avenue
  • Solis
  • Blumentritt 
  • Laong Laan 
  • España 
  • Santa Mesa 
  • Pandacan 
  • Paco 
  • San Andres 
  • Vito Cruz 
  • Dela Rosa 
  • Pasay Road 
  • EDSA 
  • Nichols 
  • FTI
  • Bicutan

Metro North Commuter Line Operating Hours

The Metro North Commuter Line roughly begins operations at 4AM and ends at 8PM. The exact time schedule is as follows: 

Metro North Commuter Line Operating Hours
Metro North Commuter Line Operating Hours – Photo via PNR

Metro South Commuter Line

Meanwhile, the Metro South Commuter Line stretches from Tutuban to IRRI in Los Baños, Laguna. There’s a shuttle service that runs across the south area as well, serving different provinces. 

Metro South Commuter Line Stations

  • Tutuban
  • Blumentritt
  • Laon Laan
  • España
  • Sta. Mesa
  • Pandacan
  • Paco
  • San Andres
  • Vito Cruz
  • Buendia
  • Pasay Road
  • EDSA
  • Nichols
  • FTI
  • Bicutan
  • Sucat
  • Alabang
  • Muntinlupa
  • San Pedro
  • Pacita MG
  • Golden City 
  • Biñan
  • Sta. Rosa
  • Cabuyao
  • Mamatid
  • Calamba

There’s also an Alabang-IRRI Shuttle service in the south, which has these stations: 

  • Alabang 
  • Muntinlupa
  • San Pedro
  • Biñan
  • Sta. Rosa
  • Cabuyao
  • Mamatid
  • Calamba
  • Pansol
  • Masili
  • Los Baños
  • College
  • IRRI

Metro South Commuter Line Operating Hours

The Metro South Commuter Line begins operations at 5:16AM and ends at 10:54PM. The exact time schedule is as follows: 

Metro South Commuter Line Operating Hours
Metro South Commuter Line Operating Hours – Photo via PNR

Metro South Commuter Line Operating Hours
Metro South Commuter Line Operating Hours – Photo via PNR

Metro South Commuter Line Fare Matrix

The regular fare in MRT-3 ranges from P15 to P60. Refer to this fare matrix table for a complete guide:

Metro South Commuter Line Fare Matrix
Metro South Commuter Line Fare Matrix – Photo via PNR

Metro Commuter Line Construction Updates

The PNR railway system will be expanded further with the addition of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR), popularly known as the Clark-Calamba Railway. Consisting of stations traversing three provinces, the 148-kilometer line stretches from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna, passing through Bulacan and Metro Manila.

The North-South Commuter Railway project has three construction phases: Phase 1 is from Malolos to Tutuban, Phase 2 covers Malolos to Clark, and finally, Phase 3 extends from Manila to Calamba.

Metro Manila Subway

Dubbed as the “project of the century,” the Metro Manila Subway is the country’s first underground railway system. The excavation work will start in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the expected completion of the first phase of the project in 2023 or 2024.

Metro Manila Subway Stations

This 36-kilometer underground train system will host 17 stations in key strategic locations in Metro Manila. Two of these stations will be connected to the proposed North South Commuter Railway. According to the planned Mega Manila Subway route, these are the stations of the future train system:

  • East Valenzuela
  • Quirino Highway
  • Tandang Sora
  • North Avenue
  • Quezon Avenue
  • East Avenue
  • Anonas
  • Katipunan
  • Ortigas (previously called Ortigas North)
  • Shaw (previously called Ortigas South)
  • Kalayaan Avenue
  • Bonifacio Global City
  • FTI
  • Lawton
  • Senate
  • Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3
  • Bicutan

Makati Subway

The main financial district of the country is set to have its own underground train system as well. The 8-kilometer transport infrastructure is due for completion in 2025. The subway in Makati will have stations in these locations:

  • Mile Long
  • Makati Fire Station
  • Circuit Makati
  • Makati City Hall
  • Makati Bliss
  • Intersection of Ortigas-Makati-BGC Bridge
  • University of Makati
  • Ospital ng Makati

From the first-ever train system that serviced the capital city and northern provinces, the railway infrastructure in the country has expanded and embraced modernization, keeping up with the demands of the time. With the need for better mobility, more train systems are expected to emerge in key cities. This, in turn, will contribute to economic growth and development.

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Main Photo via MRT-3 Facebook page

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