PNR revives Bicol route, taps Chinese firm for trains

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    The Philippine National Railways (PNR) has signed a deal with Chinese firm CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive for the purchase of new trains that will be deployed in long-haul operations to the south.

    The contract signing  came after CRRC Zhuzhou was declared the winning bidder for the delivery of standard gauge diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains to the PNR last October.

    The contract was signed by PNR general manager Junn Magno and CRRC Locomotive vice president Wang Qiaolin, with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan as witnesses.

    “This train will represent the first trip for the South Long Haul Project or what we call the PNR Bicol and it would cut down significantly 80 percent of the travel time between Manila and the Bicol region,” Magno said.

    The project consists of three train sets of three car formations. These train sets, which are set to arrive in June 2021, will be initially deployed for long-haul service from Calamba in Laguna to Naga City in Camarines Sur and eventually to Legazpi City in Albay.

    Tugade said this contract marks the first time the country will have trains sets with three types of accommodation.

    The DMU trains will feature business class, first class, and second class accommodations.

    The trains can accommodate 168 passengers with 36 seats for business class, 52 seats for first-class, and 80 seats for second class.

    PNR used to cover 479 kilometers of tracks from Manila to Bicol until it stopped operation in 2014 due to right-of-way issues and lack of trains.

    The PNR eyes to put more stations, increasing it from 17 to 35.

    It will not only mprove the railway tracks but will also put new trains and new coaches for the revival of the route.

    The new trains from China are on top of the 37 new trains from Indonesia that will be used to double the capacity of the Tutuban-Los Baños route 2020.