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Philippine National Railways

Not to be confused with Philippine Railway Company.

Philippine National Railway
Pambansang Daambakal ng Pilipinas
Industry Rail transport
Founded November 24, 1892
Headquarters Manila, Philippines
Area served
Key people
Joseph Allan C. Dilay
(General Manager)
Services suspended operations in May 2015
Owner Government of the Philippines under DOTC

The Philippine National Railways (Filipino: Pambansang Daambakal ng Pilipinas), or PNR, is a state-owned railway company in the Philippines, operating no services as of May 2015. Until May 2015 it operated only one commuter rail service in Metro Manila; its services in the Bicol Region had been suspended in the years before. PNR temporarily restored its intercity service to the Bicol region in 2011.[1]

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 Script error: No such module "convert". of route from La Union up to Bicol.[2] However, continued competition from road transportation and 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. 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. In July 2014, the management conducted a test run. It was planned to resume the services of the Bicol Express Service by about September 2014.[3] Due to the damages brought by the Typhoon Rammasun, known in the Philippines as Bagyong Glenda, the Bicol Express’ resumption was postponed indefinitely.[4] After a train got derailed in between EDSA and Nichols stations in Makati on April 29th 2015, PNR halted its Metro Manila commuter service since May 5, 2015 until further notice.


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 (Manila–Dagupan Railway), later to become the Manila Railway Company, Ltd. of London, on June 1, 1887.[5][6]

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, and the Script error: No such module "convert". line opened on November 24, 1892. Expansion of the Philippine railway network would not begin until the American colonial period, when on December 8, 1902, the Philippine Commission passed legislation authorizing the construction of another railway line, which would later form the South Main Line. Additional legislation was passed until 1909 authorizing further railway construction and the use of government bonds to finance them, and by 1916, Script error: No such module "convert". of track had been built by the company, which had reorganized itself as the Manila Railroad Company of New Jersey (MRR).[7]

Similar to other railroads at the time, the Manila Railroad Company suffered from financial difficulties during World War I, and on February 4, 1916, the Philippine Assembly passed Act No. 2574, authorizing the Governor-General to negotiate for the nationalization of the MRR's assets. The MRR was eventually nationalized in January 1917, with the Philippine government paying ₱8 million to the company's owners and assuming ₱53.9 million in outstanding debt. Consequently, the MRR's management shifted from British to American hands, and in 1923, José Paez became the first Filipino general manager.[7]

During the 1920s, the MRR embarked on a general program of improvements as a result of operating surpluses accrued over much of the decade. The ₱30 million program allowed for the extension of railway service on the North Main Line from Dagupan to San Fernando in La Union, the extension of the South Main Line to Legazpi in Albay, and the construction of several spur lines. Regular direct service between Manila and Legazpi was later inaugurated in January 1938, and by 1941, the MRR operated Script error: No such module "convert". of track.[7]

On December 14, 1941, at the start of World War II, the MRR was put under U.S. military control, and on December 30, the MRR management was ordered to allow U.S. military forces to destroy network infrastructure, resulting in very extensive damage to train facilities and right of way. Coupled with further damage during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, where the Imperial Japanese Army operated services on a very limited basis using whatever could be salvaged, and further fighting in the American liberation of the Philippines a few years later, damages to railroad property amounted to around ₱30 million.[7] By the end of the war, only Script error: No such module "convert". were operational,[5] largely as a result of the United States Army performing temporary repairs on railroad infrastructure for military purposes. MRR property was later returned to the Philippine government on February 1, 1946.[7]

Following the war, the MRR was able to restore limited services, using surplus military equipment and payments made by the U.S. Army for use of railway facilities in the Philippines Campaign. By July 1, 1947, funded by a ₱20 million rehabilitation allocation set aside by the Philippine government, around 75% of the entire railway network prior to 1941 was rehabilitated. By 1951, with the MRR receiving ₱3 million in war reparations funds, Script error: No such module "convert". of track, representing 82.5% of the total railway network prior to 1941, was in operation.[7] Later in the 1950s, the MRR fleet of trains was converted from steam to diesel engines, and the company was given a new charter under Republic Act No. 4156, becoming the modern-day 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.[5] 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,[5][8][9] 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[9] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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

The PNR used to operate 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.

Metro Commuter

     Metro Commuter
Orange Line
Native name Pambansang Daangbakal ng Pilipinas
Type Commuter rail
Status Operational
Locale Metro Manila
Services Tutuban to Alabang
Tutuban to Mamatid
Daily ridership 70,000
Opening November 24, 1892
Closed May 5, 2015
Owner Government of the Philippines
Operator(s) Department of Transportation and Communications
Depot(s) Tutuban
Rolling stock
Line length Script error: No such module "convert".[11]
Track gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Operating speed ≈ 28 km/h
Route map
  1. REDIRECT Template:Philippine National Railways Metro Commuter Line
  • This is a redirect from a page that has been moved (renamed). This page was kept as a redirect to avoid breaking links, both internal and external, that may have been made to the old page name. For more information follow the category link.

The Metro Commuter (also MSC or Metro South Commuter),[12] which was formerly called Commuter Express (also Commex), served as the commuter rail service for the Manila metropolitan area, extending as far south as Calamba City, Laguna. The PNR used GE locomotives such as 900 Class, 2500 Class, and 5000 Class hauling Commex passenger car as well as newly procured 18 (3 car trains, 6 sets) Hyundai Rotem DMUs and KiHa 52 for this service. 203 series. EMUs were also used for Metro Commuter runs.

MSC service using the new DMUs, KiHa 52, and 203 series EMUs was offered between Tutuban and Alabang in Muntinlupa City, while a daily MSC run between Manila and Calamba City, Laguna ran using GE locomotives and 203 series EMUs. During the later years, MSC trains made 60 daily trips, 30 in each direction.[13]

Bicol Commuter

The Bicol Commuter service was a commuter rail service in the Bicol Region, between stations in Tagkawayan, Quezon and Ligao City, Albay, with Naga City in Camarines Sur acting as a center of transportation. The service was launched on September 16, 2009, in time for the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City.[10] The trains used to make seven trips a day, alternating between Tagkawayan, Sipocot, Naga as the terminus. All services used KiHa 52 in revised blue livery.

Premiere Train

The Premiere Train service was a commuter rail service introduced on March 3, 2014 and used JR KiHa 59 "Kogane" trainset. The Premiere Train originated from Tutuban Terminal and stopped at Blumentritt, España, Santa Mesa, Buendia, EDSA, Sucat, Alabang, San Pedro, Biñan and Santa Rosa stations. Fares costed Php60 to Php90.

This train service was supposed to be removed on May 23, 2014 because they will use modified 203 series EMUs that will stop at all stations between Tutuban Terminal and Santa Rosa Station to cater more passengers. It was replaced by the 203 series on June 25, 2014.

Shuttle Service

The Shuttle Service was a commuter rail service introduced on January 27, 2014. This service used Hyundai Rotem DMUs and JR KiHa 52. There were 4 routes of the Shuttle Service, where trains stopped at all stations along the routes.

  1. TU - SU
  2. SU - TU
  3. SA - SU
  4. SU - SA

This train service was removed last May 23, 2014 to give way to maintenance servicing of the rolling stocks. Another reason was due to the consecutive 3 weeks of delays and cancellations of this train service.

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.[14] Services were set to resume on June 29, 2011, with an inaugural run to Naga from Tutuban.[14] 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.[15]

As of September 2013, operations to the Bicol Region have been suspended.[1] This was announced to be primarily because of typhoon damage to bridges. The PNR hoped to reopen the Bicol Express Service by about September 2014;[16] however, as of May 2015 services had still not been resumed.[4]

Mayon Limited

As of March 16, 2012, anticipating the heavy demand during the Holy Week, another train, the Mayon Limited, left Tutuban heading to Ligao. The train ran as Mayon DeLuxe on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Tutuban as train T-713 with three air-conditioned carriages with reclining seats. The train returned from Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday as train T-714 from Ligao. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays the train ran 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 did not run on Saturdays.[17] The trains met at Gumaca.[18]

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, all operations to the Bicol Region, including the Mayon Limited, have been suspended.[1]

Historical services

Intercity services

Although the Southern Luzon Intercity Services has occasionally operated in recent years, some of its branches are defunct such as the Batangas City Intercity railways. Efforts are underway to restore both services.[citation needed] Northern line intercity that once serviced by Amianan Express and the Dagupan Express has permanently ceased operation.

Prestige and Peñafrancia Express

The old Prestige service 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 at the Tutuban railway station, Manila's 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

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 diesel multiple-unit (DMU) train took four hours to run the 195 kilometres between Manila and Dagupan City. The PNR also 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 ran faster than its day counterpart, the Amianan Day Express, making the 260-kilometre run to San Fernando City, La Union in five hours.

Non-passenger services

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.


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

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.


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[8] and the latter helping to finance, build, and operate a rationalized North Main Line service[19] as well as helping to rehabilitate and modernize the South Main Line.[20]

Southrail Project (Conventional Line)

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,[21] which serves as the Green Line-Orange Line connection.[22] 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.[8] No figures have been released for the Chinese-funded portion of Southrail.

Northrail Project

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.[23] Preparatory construction began in early November 2006.[24] 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.[25] The railway project was contracted out by the Arroyo administration in 2003 to China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation (CNMEC) for an original cost of $421 million. In 2009, CNMEC increased the contract price to $593 million, with the government agreeing to shoulder the difference. The government loaned $400 million from China’s Exim Bank to fund the project, with the balance sourced from the Development Bank of the Philippines. In 2011, the Aquino administration scrapped the project on lingering legal issues and corruption allegations. The Philippine Supreme Court handed down in March 2012 a decision giving a lower court the go-signal to hear the case calling for the annulment of the allegedly overpriced contract. Instead of settling the entire US$184 million due in 2012, the Department of Finance will pay Export-Import Bank of China 4 equal payments of $46 million starting September 2012.[26] National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan said the 80-kilometer Northrail project would resume within the term of President Benigno Aquino III.[26]

The Department of Transportation and Communications has examined reviving the project by commissioning a feasibility study by CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada. Part of the study examined having a Malolos-Tutuban-Calamba-Los Baños Commuter Line.[27][28]

Rolling stock

Four types of rolling stock used to run on PNR's lines: the locomotives, the Commex express cars, baggage cars and DRC railcars.[29] 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.[29] 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).[30]

Rolling stock General Electric Universal Series locomotives Hyundai Rotem Diesel multiple units Baggage cars DRC railcars
In operation 14 18 (6 sets) 2 8
Support equipment Rail Mounted Crane Rail Mounted Crane Rail Mounted Crane -
Support equipment capacity 0.5 tonnes 30 tonnes 10 tonnes -


Philippine National Railways
Passengers posing in front of the "Ferrocarril de Manila and Dagupan" (circa 1885) 
The old Philippine National Railways logo, which has been in use since the 1960s. 
7A-Class passenger coaches 
Modified EMUs, used with the Hyundai Rotem DMU 
A KiHa 52 at Ligao Station 
Buendia railway station in Makati City. 

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Trains & Schedules". Official Website. Philippine National Railways. Retrieved 6 September 2013. Manila - Bicol trips are currently suspended. Please bear with us. 
  2. ^ "Sad saga of PNR". May 13, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  3. ^ "PNR plans to resume Bicol Express, DOTC orders rehab first". May 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  4. ^ a b "Bicol Express News". Retrieved 2015-04-29. Manila Bicol trips are currently suspended. Please bear with us. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Brief history of PNR". Philippine National Railways (February 27, 2009). Retrieved November 4, 2011 at Internet Archive.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ "Manila Railroad Company". National Register of Historic Sites & Structures in the Philippines. National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Chapter I: Present Conditions". Report of Survey of the Manila Railroad Company and the Preliminary Survey of Railroads for Mindanao (Report). Chicago: De Leuw, Cather & Company. 1951. pp. 1–12. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ PNR fare matrix
  12. ^ "Metro Commuter". Philippine National Railways. Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  13. ^ "PNR Train Summary.". March 2, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Hermogenes, Danica; Reyes, Fatima (May 30, 2011). "Reviving the 'Bicol Express'". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Makati City). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ "PNR-FB"
  16. ^ "PNR to resume Bicol Express in Sept.". GMA News Online. May 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  17. ^ "Mayon Limited resumes Bicol run". Philippine National Railways Press Release (Manila). Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Mayon Limited". Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ "South Manila Commuter Rail Project, Phase 1". National Economic and Development Authority. Retrieved August 28, 2006. 
  22. ^ "South Manila Commuter Rail Project, Phase 1". National Economic and Development Authority. Retrieved August 28, 2006. 
  23. ^ "RP, China break ground for Manila-Ilocos railway". Malaya. April 6, 2004. 
  24. ^ "De Castro bats for hiring of squatters for NorthRail project". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Makati City). November 6, 2006. 
  25. ^ "U.P. study finds North Rail contract illegal, disadvantageous to government". The PCIJ Blog. September 9, 2005. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  26. ^ a b$400m-northrail-project?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=referral
  27. ^ <
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b "PNR Company Profile". Philippine National Railways. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  30. ^ 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. 

Further reading


External links