Sunday, August 16, 2009

Philippine National Railways: runaway train no more

PNR New CoachI live very near the Buendia Philippine National Railway station. and every morning, without fail, I hear the unmistakable train siren as it passes through the station thrice in the morning to unload their share of Makati-bound workers. Passing through the railway station while on my way to Cash and Carry Mall, I would espy the brighter, repainted station and the clearer tracks that meander all the way to Pasay Road and EDSA. But what really kept catching my eye were the silver coaches, which from the distance, looked brand new and inviting to ride. iI thought that one weekend, I would check out them out.Inside the new PNR CoachSo check them out, we did Sunday morning. We made it just in time for the last northbound trip for Tutuban at around 9.30am (the next one would be at around 3.30pm). My previous recollection of PNR trains were the dilapidated coaches that ran on tracks almost erased from view by squatter shanties that threatened to take over the rails. For a time, traveling on the old trains meant taking a chance as the coaches got thrown rocks or worse, plastic bags loaded with urine (or excrement). I just felt that the neglect of the railways was a waste as this was the fastest way to move around this traffic-ridden city apart from the Metroferry.PNR Orange HandlesWe were waiting for the train to arrive and got into a kuwentuhan (sharing of stories) with the friendly security guards. Someone just got caught by a train the previous day. the man's legs were amputated, with fresh blood still littering the tracks. Hmmm, goes to show that we still got a way to go as far as safety is concerned. Anyway, stepping into the train was a great relief. There wasn't much of a mob of passengers on a Sunday morning and the coach was cool and spanking-new. We had to pay once inside as there's a friendly conductress roaming around. the fare is a bargain - a flat rate of P10 from Buendia to Tutuban. And we got to tutuban in only 20-25 minutes. It got me into thinking that on a weekday, you'd be lucky to go from Divisoria to Makati in 60 minutes via regular commuting means. This train is certainly a more viable means of transportation to evade all those gridlocks.PNR window to life along the tracksAlong the way, we were able to observe life along the riles (tracks) like the glaring fact that there's a lot of squatter shanties that have been cleared. Riding the train isn't just about getting from point a to b but rather looking into a window of society -- of everyday life unfolding right beside the railways.PNR Tutuban Station facadeINFO: fare from Tutuban-Bicutan (vice-versa) is P15, Tutuban-Buendia (vice-versa) is P10. right now, the air conditioned coaches run five times a day (thrice in the morning and twice in the afternoon) from Tutuban to Bicutan, passing through Blumentritt, Laong Laan in Sampaloc, España, Sta. Mesa, Pandacan, Paco, Vito Cruz, Buendia, Pasay Road, EDSA Magallanes, and FTI tenement. soon, the northbound line will extend to Solis, 5th avenue, Assistio Avenue and Caloocan. • northbound trains leave Bicutan station at around 6.45am, 8.05am, 9.15am, 4.10pm, 5.40pm • southbound trains leave Tutuban station at around 6am, 7.10am, 8.30am, 3.30pm, 4.45pm • Manila to Biñan trips: the old coaches are still being used to ferry passengers from Tutuban to Biñan (and vice versa) once a day • northbound train leaves Biñan station at around 6.45am • southbound train leaves Tutuban station at around 5.45pm

5 comments:

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

For a long time, train service on the ground level has been neglected. I'm glad to see it's been rehabilitated, at least within Manila. Nothing of course beats if the Philippine government can extend that all the way to North/South Luzon. We shouldn't be left behind even if our Southeast Asian neighbors have far better rail services than us.

the donG said...

great that they allowed you to take photos. looking forward to ride it too bai and the bicol trip! exciting!

dodong flores said...

Nice photos, Bai Oggie. I'll wait for the Bicol trip to be launched and I'll ride this train :)

lagalog said...

Nomadic Pinoy, you're very much pinpoint accurate in what you said. We've seen, for example, the rail system of Vietnam and napagiiwanan na tayo. It's about time we get used to traveling long distances via train again.

Dom, they've got no problems allowing photographers naman :)

Dodong, medyo matatagalan pa yung biyaheng Bicol because of the rail rehabilitation but we were shown the air conditioned coach and it's really impressive. I'll also be among the first to take that trip to Bicol when that happens.

alcogoodwin said...

Great stuff, thank you for the interesting PNR update.
The handle shot was particularly interesting. Very good work.

Regards
Brad Peadon
President: Philippine Railway Historical Society
http://philippine-railways.blogspot.com

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