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Philippine National Railway
Pambansang Daambakal ng Pilipinas
Founded November 24, 1892
Headquarters Manila, Philippines
Area served Metro Manila
Bicol Region
Key people Joseph Allan C. Dilay (General Manager)
Services Commuter rail
Freight services
Owner(s) Government of the Philippines under the
Department of Transportation and Communications
Website www.pnr.gov.ph

The Philippine National Railways (Filipino: Pambansang Daambakal ng Pilipinas), or P.N.R, is a state-owned railway company in the Philippines, operating a single line of track on Luzon. As of 2010, it operates one commuter rail service in Metro Manila and a second in the Bicol Region. PNR restored its intercity service to the Bicol region in 2011. The Bicol Express and Isarog Express are scheduled to run daily between Manila and Ligao but as of September 2013 the trains were suspended.[1][2]

PNR began operations on November 24, 1892 as the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan, during the Spanish colonial period, and later becoming the Manila Railroad Company (MRR) during the American colonial period. It became the Philippine National Railways on June 20, 1946 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4156. The PNR is an agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

PNR used to operate over 479 km (298 mi)[citation needed] of route from La Union up to Bicol. However, continued neglect in past decades reduced PNR's efficiency and railroad coverage. Persistent problems with informal settlers in the 1990s contributed further to PNR's decline.[citation needed] In 2006, Typhoons Milenyo and Reming caused severe damage to the network, resulting in the suspension of the Manila-Bicol services.

In 2007 the Philippine government initiated a rehabilitation project aiming to remove informal settlers from the PNR right-of-way, revitalize commuter services in Metro Manila, and restore the Manila-Bicol route as well as lost services in Northern Luzon. In July 2009, PNR unveiled a new corporate identity and inaugurated new rolling stock.


On June 25, 1875, under a royal decree issued by King Alfonso XII of Spain, the required Inspector of Public Works of the Philippine Islands was requested to submit a railway system plan for Luzon. The plan, which was submitted five months later by Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro, was entitled Memoria Sobre el Plan General de Ferrocarriles en la Isla de Luzón, and was promptly approved. A concession for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan was granted to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan on June 1, 1887.[3] The Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan which constitutes much of the North Main Line today, began construction in July 31 1887 with the laying of the cornerstone for Tutuban station. The railway was 195 kilometers (120 miles) long at the time of its opening on November 24, 1892, running from Manila to Dagupan City in Pangasinan.

The maiden voyage of the Bicol Express was on September 13, 1931. The track from Dagupan to Legaspi was completely connected on May 8, 1938.

Later the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan became the Manila Railway Company Ltd. of London.[3][4] It was nationalized and its assets were acquired by the Philippine government, which expanded the rail network, only to have most of those improvements lost during World War II.[3] Of the 1,140 route-kilometers (706 miles) before the war, only 452 route-kilometers (280 miles) were operational after it.[3] The extensive damage to the system took several years to repair. During the 1950s the Manila Rail Company fleet of trains was converted from steam to diesel engines. The Manila Railway Company was given a new charter under Republic Act No. 4156, and the company changed its name to Philippine National Railways.

Natural calamities such as the 1973 and 1975 floods disrupted services and forced the closure of several parts of the main lines. On July 23, 1979, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Executive Order No. 546, which designated the Philippine National Railways as an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications.[3] In 1988, during the administration of Corazon Aquino, the North Main Line was closed, with trains unable to reach various provinces in the country. Even the South Rail was also closed due to typhoons and floods, and the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1993, in which ash flows and lava destroyed the rail line and its facilities. However, jeeps, buses and taxis were popular, and many people are swayed from the present service until 2009. The previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was actively pursuing the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways through various investments and projects designed to revive Philippine rail transport,[3][5][6] despite the numerous problems involved. Total reconstruction of rail bridges and tracks, including replacement of the current 35-kilogram (77-pound) track with newer 50-kilogram (110-pound) tracks[6] and the refurbishing of stations, were part of the rehabilitation and expansion process. The first phase, converting all the lines of the Manila metropolitan area, were completed in 2009.[6] On July 14, 2009, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presided over the launch of the new diesel multiple-units of the Philippine National Railways. As part of its new image, a new brand name, PNR Filtrack was added.[7]

The San Cristobal bridge in Calamba, Laguna was rebuilt in May, 2011. The Bicol Express train service was inaugurated on June 29, with a maiden voyage between Manila and Naga City plus a return trip back to the terminus on July 1. This inaugural trip was marred by the collapse of the embankment at Malaguico, Sipocot. It was discovered before the train passed through and was repaired. The restored Bicol Express intercity service is offered nowadays on a daily basis, running mostly during night time.

Operations and services[edit]

The PNR currently operates in the Manila metropolitan area and the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur(Naga City) and Albay. In the past, the PNR also used to serve the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and La Union on the North Main Line, and Batangas on the South Main Line.

Passenger services[edit]

Commuter Express[edit]

     Commuter Express
Orange Line
PNR Sucat train.jpg
A Hyundai Rotem DMU set currently used by the PNR for Commex runs
Type Rapid transit
Status Operational
Locale Metro Manila
Stations 136 stations
Services Tutuban to Alabang
Daily ridership 60,000-70,000[8][9]
Opening November 24, 1892
Owner Government of the Philippines
Operator(s) Department of Transportation and Communications
Depot(s) Tutuban
Rolling stock Orange Line (COMMEX):
Hyundai Rotem DMU
KiHA 52
203-Series EMU

Bicol Express:
GE U-Series U5B, U10B, U14C, U15C
JR Passenger Coaches

Isarog Express
JR Kogane KiHa 59
Line length 1,060 km (659 mi)[10]
Track gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Operating speed 60-90 km/h (Metro services)
80-120 km/h (Provincial services)
Route map
Philippine National Railways.png

The Commuter Express (also Metro Commuter),[11] commonly called the Commex, serves as the commuter rail service for the Manila metropolitan area, extending as far south as Calamba City, Laguna. The PNR uses GE locomotives hauling Commex passenger cars, as well as newly procured 18 (3 car trains, 6 sets) Hyundai Rotem DMUs and KiHa 52 for this service. as of now they are also using the EMU 203 series JR Train set from Japan that will be only hauled by a GE locomotive. It already had a commuter test run last April 8, 2012 during 8:05 in the morning(Train 113). (GMT +8) This train test run only ran from Tutuban Terminal and Sucat Station.

Commex service using the new DMUs is currently offered between Tutuban and Alabang in Muntinlupa City, while a daily Commex run between Manila and Biñan City, Laguna runs using GE locomotives. Currently, Commex trains make 50 daily trips, 25 in each direction.[9]

Bicol Commuter[edit]

The Bicol Commuter service is a commuter rail service in the Bicol Region, between stations in Tagkawayan[citation needed], Quezon and Ligao City, Albay, with Naga City in Camarines Sur acting as a central terminus, the center of transportation. The service was launched on September 16, 2009, in time for the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City.[7] The trains make seven trips a day, alternating between Tagkawayan, Sipocot, Naga as the terminus. All services use commuter coaches hauled by GE locomotives.[citation needed]

Bicol Express[edit]

Route map of Bicol Express

The PNR has been working for some years on restoring this intercity service. On May 22, 2011, a test run from Tutuban to Naga City proved successful.[12] Services are set to resume on June 29, 2011, with an inaugural run to Naga from Tutuban.[12] A return trip from Naga City to Manila was also successful. After this success, Bicol Express was reintroduced on a daily basis. A trip takes approximately 10 hours. The train travels mostly during night-time, leaving Tutuban at 18:30 and arriving Naga City at 04:00 next day.[13]

The trip designator is Train T-611 for the southbound (MA-NG) and Train T-612 for the northbound (NG-MA).

As of September 2013, operations have been suspended.[2] Primarily, safety concerns were the cause, but immediate resumption of services is currently[when?] being worked on.

Mayon Limited[edit]

As of March 16, 2012, anticipating the heavy demand during the Holy Week, another train, the Mayon Limited, leaves Tutuban heading to Ligao. The train runs as Mayon DeLuxe on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Tutuban as train T-713 with three air-conditioned carriages with reclining seats. The train returns from Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday as train T-714 from Ligao. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays the train runs as Ordinary train (T-815) with non-reclining seats and cooling by fan. The departure as train T-816 is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The train does not run on Saturdays.[14] The trains meet at Gumaca.[15]

The Mayon Limited was hauled alternatively by French Alsthom locomotives and General Electric locomotives,[citation needed] and ran northward from Legaspi railway station up the steep gradient leading to Camalig railway station in the foothills of the Mayon Volcano with another locomotive pushing from the rear. The Manila-Legaspi route was also served by the Mayon Limited service, using the Mayon Limited Special (Train T-577), the fastest and the most modern train of the Philippine National Railways operating on the South Main Line.

As of September 2013, operations have been suspended.[2]

Defunct services[edit]

Intercity services[edit]

Although the Southern Luzon Intercity Services is almost completely restored, some of its branch are still in defunct condition such as the Batangas City Intercity railways. Continuous plans and efforts are currently undertaken to restore both services. Northern line intercity that once serviced by Amianan Express and the Dagupan Express has permanently ceased operation. It is envisioned that the Northrail services, although grossly delayed, would be the successor to the defunct lines.

Prestige and Peñafrancia Express[edit]

The old Prestige used Japanese-built self-propelled coaches and was the only train not to be hauled by General Electric locomotives.[citation needed] It was frequently the first of the three express trains to arrive. With priority over all other trains on its route, and calling only at Daraga, Ligao, Naga, Lucena, and Paco, it normally arrived in Tutuban railway station, Manila's Grand Central, making it a popular service with businessmen. The 48-seater air-conditioned coaches of the Prestige were somewhat narrower and lower than those built in Madras, which also contributed to the faster run.[citation needed]

Express services[edit]

The PNR also operated several express services. Some of these services were discontinued for financial reasons. The first express service for Luzon was the Baguio Express, which operated from Manila via San Fabian, Pangasinan to Camp One, where the motor vehicles, namely the Stanley and De Dion steamers, of the Benguet Auto Line transport passengers proceeding to Baguio. Another express service was the Ilocos Express, which lasted until the 1980s. This began operating in 1930 and had a dining car with catering provided by the Manila Hotel. Following the modernization program of the Manila Railway Company in 1955, the Ilocos Express featured a 7A class "De Luxe" coach until 1979, when the lack of operable air-conditioned coaches caused a switch to a "Tourist"-class coach. The company also operated the Paniqui Express in the 1930s, but that was eclipsed by the Ilocos Express.[citation needed]

The fastest train operated by the PNR on the North Main Line was the Ilocos Special (Train 26) during the 1970s. This DMU train took four hours to run the 195 kilometres between Manila and Dagupan. In addition to these express trains, the PNR introduced the Amianan Day Express (Train 74) in February 1974 and the Amianan Night Express (Train 72), the last train to depart Manila for any destination on both lines. The Amianan Night Express runs faster than its day counterpart, the Amianan Day Express, making the 260-kilometre run to San Fernando City, La Union in five hours. The PNR used to offer freight services, using General Electric U15C 900-series locomotives bought by the company in 1974. There was also a limited mobile hospital service.


PNR Commuter Express
Caloocan Depot
Asistio Avenue
Tutuban Depot
Blumentritt  LRT-1 
Laong Laan
Santa Mesa  MRT-2 
Pasig River
San Andres
Vito Cruz
Pasay Road
San Pedro
Pacita MG
Golden City 1
Santa Rosa
Golden City 2

The Philippine National Railways used to operate two different rail lines, namely the North Main Line and the South Main Line, along with the three spur lines, which served various parts of Luzon with its 138 (once) active stations.

Station layout[edit]

All PNR stations were and are presently at-grade, using a side platform layout. Most have only basic amenities, platforms and ticket booths. Rehabilitated stations along the Metro Manila line have been fitted with ramps for passengers using wheelchairs. Several stations have extended platforms, having an upper platform catering to DMU services, and a lower platform for regular locomotive-hauled services.


Color-coded lines on an outline map illustrating relative positions of existing and planned routes as described in the text
The expanded network of rail transport in the Philippines.

Plans to rehabilitate and expand the railway network have been made by various administrations. South Korea and the People's Republic of China have offered to help rehabilitate the Philippine railway system, the former assisting with the rehabilitation and modernization of the South Main Line[5] and the latter helping to finance, build, and operate a rationalized North Main Line service[16] as well as helping to rehabilitate and modernize the South Main Line.[17]

Southrail Project (Conventional Line)[edit]

The Korean-funded section covers the Southrail line from Manila to Calamba City, although present funding covers only the Southrail line from Caloocan City to Muntinlupa City,[18] which serves as the Green Line-Orange Line connection.[19] The Chinese-funded section covers the line from Calamba to Legazpi and further on to Matnog, Sorsogon. The Korean-funded Southrail project was originally expected to cost some US$50 million but costs have risen to around $70–100 million.[5] No figures have been released for the Chinese-funded portion of Southrail.

Northrail Project[edit]

The Northrail project involved the upgrading of the existing single track to an elevated dual-track system, converting the rail gauge from narrow gauge to standard gauge, and linking Manila to Malolos City in Bulacan and further on to Angeles City, Clark Special Economic Zone and the Clark International Airport. This project was estimated to cost around US$500 million, with China offering to provide some US$400 million in concessionary financing.[20] Preparatory construction began in early November 2006.[21] Due to delays in the construction work, it was soon being renegotiated with the Chinese government. Construction temporarily continued in January 2009 with the support of the North Luzon Railways Corporation. Again, the project was cancelled in March 2011, due to a series of delays, work stoppages, a controversy and anomalies with the foreign contractor.[citation needed]

DOTC has revived the project with a feasibility study commissioned to CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada. Part of the study involve having a Malolos-Tutuban-Calamba-Los Baños Commuter Line.[22][23]

Rolling stock[edit]

Four types of rolling stock run on PNR's lines: the locomotives, the Commex express cars, baggage cars and DRC railcars.[24] All services were operated by GE Universal Series locomotives and Hyundai Rotem DMUs. There were 14 locomotives, 18 (3 car trains, 6 sets total) Diesel Multiple Units, 2 baggage cars and 8 DRC railcars currently operating.[24] Surplus sleeper coaches from Japan Railways were recently acquired by PNR, and were delivered on November 2010. More used rolling stock from Japan Railways was recently acquired by PNR, and arrived in 2011 which included some 203-series EMU, Kiha 52 and Kogane Train (Kiha 59).[25]

Rolling stock General Electric Universal Series locomotives Hyundai Rotem Diesel multiple units Baggage cars DRC railcars
In operation 14 18 (6 sets) 2[citation needed] 8
Support equipment Rail Mounted Crane Rail Mounted Crane Rail Mounted Crane -
Support equipment capacity .5 tons 30 tons 10 tons -



Further reading[edit]

  • Japan International Cooperation Agency Official Page "Revitalization of Main Line South Project(1989)"



  1. ^ Bicol Express Train, PNR's Facebook page. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Trains & Schedules". Official Website. Philippine National Railways. Retrieved 6 September 2013. "Manila - Bicol trips are currently suspended. Please bear with us." 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Brief history of PNR". Philippine National Railways (February 27, 2009). Retrieved November 4, 2011 at Internet Archive. 
  4. ^ "Manila Railroad Company". National Register of Historic Sites & Structures in the Philippines. National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Maragay, Fel V. (December 15, 2005). "Rehab of busy railway". Manila Standard Today. Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Olchondra, Riza T. (April 22, 2007). "PNR rail rehabilitation to start September". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Manila). Retrieved April 28, 2010. "The Philippine National Railways (PNR) will start repairing and improving its North and South railways by September, PNR General Manager Jose Ma. Sarasola II said Friday." 
  7. ^ a b Escandor Jr., Juan; Caudilla, Pons (September 18, 2009). "Bicol train chugs to a halt in test run". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Manila). Retrieved April 29, 2010. "The spirit was willing, but the diesel-fed old engines were not." 
  8. ^ "Philippines : DOTC, PNR to pursue $2.5B railway project.". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Bello Ruz, J.C. (February 27, 2010). "PNR aircon trains set to reach Sucat. The EMU run has been extended to Alabang after the construction of its second track has been recently completed to allow the locomotive to maneuver on its northbound (AA-TU) trip.". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved April 29, 2010. "The new air-conditioned commuter trains of the rehabilitated America transit Railways (ATR) will operate up to Sucat, Parañaque starting Monday." 
  10. ^ The World Almanac 2012. Infobase Learning. 2012. ISBN 978-1-60057-148-0. 
  11. ^ "Metro Commuter". Philippine National Railways. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Hermogenes, Danica; Reyes, Fatima (May 30, 2011). "Reviving the 'Bicol Express'". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Makati City). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  13. ^ "PNR-FB"
  14. ^ "Mayon Limited resumes Bicol run". Philippine National Railways Press Release (Manila). Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Mayon Limited". Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  16. ^ Ager, Maila (December 11, 2005). "Arroyo gives China go signal for Northrail". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Makati City). Retrieved May 2, 2010. "President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given the Chinese government the go signal to start the construction of the Northrail Project linking Manila to Pampanga province." 
  17. ^ Escandor Jr., Juan (July 22, 2006). "China to fund extension of south Luzon railway". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Makati City). Retrieved May 3, 2010. "The Philippines and China have signed a memorandum of understanding that would lead to rehabilitation and upgrade of the railway and its extension from Calamba City, south of Manila, to Matnog town in the southeastern province of Sorsogon." 
  18. ^ "South Manila Commuter Rail Project, Phase 1". National Economic and Development Authority. Retrieved August 28, 2006. 
  19. ^ "South Manila Commuter Rail Project, Phase 1". National Economic and Development Authority. Retrieved August 28, 2006. 
  20. ^ "RP, China break ground for Manila-Ilocos railway". Malaya. April 6, 2004. 
  21. ^ "De Castro bats for hiring of squatters for NorthRail project". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Makati City). November 6, 2006. 
  22. ^ <http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/07/22/13/dotc-eyes-elevated-railway-malolos-los-banos
  23. ^ http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/31/govt-eyes-elevated-rail-project-in-luzon/
  24. ^ a b "PNR Company Profile". Philippine National Railways. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  25. ^ "日本の中古電車に熱視線 9月に引退した通勤車両、フィリピンで第二の人生" [Commuter trains retired in September to live a second life in the Philippines]. Sankei News (in Japanese). Japan: The Sankei Shimbun & Sankei Digital. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_National_Railways — Please support Wikipedia.
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GMA News
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:53:58 -0700

April 15, 2014 12:42pm. The Philippine National Railways will have limited trips for its commuter trains on Maundy Thursday, and will suspend operations on Good Friday and Black Saturday. In an advisory, the PNR said this will allow its personnel to ...


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