'Bicol Express' revival a priority as more railways planned

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2017 03:41 PM

MANILA - The government will prioritize the revival of a railway that will connect the capital to the Bicol Region, with more train systems planned as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's infrastructure rebuild, an official said Monday.

The new "Bicol Express" from Manila's Tutuban district to Legazpi City is envisioned to have high-speed trains that run on wider rails, said Philippine National Railways Corp. Chairman Roberto Lastimoso.

Chinese funding may be tapped for the project, Lastimoso said, adding more rail lines to the provinces of Sorsogon, Bulacan, Batangas and as far north as Baguio City were planned.

"Priority will be from Tutuban to Legaspi kasi may right of way na, may linya na (because there's a line and a right of way)," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte plans to build up to P8 trillion in new roads, bridges, railways and terminals to sustain the momentum of one of the world's fastest-growing economies. These include the first-ever rail system in Mindanao.

Removing informal settlers by the railroad tracks is a challenge, Lastimoso said.

Some 2,000 families in Laguna have been asked to leave a five-meter near the railroad tracks, said PNR officer-in-charge Joseline Geronimo.

Japanese funding may be tapped to build the Manila to Baguio railway, Lastimoso said.

PNR trips are being planned for the following routes: Manila-Malolos Bulacan, Manila-Tarlac, and Manila-Subic, said Timothy John Batan, a rail project officer at the Department of Transportation. -- Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News