By: Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The train service was reopened in conjunction with the Peñafrancia Festival in Naga City, the Camarines Sur province’s commercial hub.
“The temporary halting of operation during the month of August was in part to prepare the PNR to ensure that our commuters who wish to travel to Naga City to celebrate the feast of Peñafrancia can avail of our train services,” PNR general manager Junio Ragragrio said.
The train service was briefly revived, after a five-year hiatus, late last July, but was suspended again due to damage on the tracks caused by heavy rains.
Ragragrio said the construction of the steel bridge in Barangay (village) Malaguico in Sipocot town and other track repairs in the Bicol area will help solve the perennial disruption of the Bicol Express’ operation whenever heavy rains wash away the loose soil embankment of the PNR’s rail tracks in the province.
Ragragio clarified that the resumed operation of Bicol Express will still be on a “trial basis” until December.
“This means that the operation of the Bicol Express is not in full operations since we are still testing the market and viability of regular operation and the status of the tracks and trains,” he explained.
PNR’s Bicol Express provides 6:30 p.m. trips every day from Tutuban in Manila and from Naga in Camarines Sur. Fares will still be on promotional rates at P548 for reclining seats plus a 30-percent discount for the sleeper and executive coaches.
The sleeper coach is now priced at P665 from P950 and P997.50 from P1,425 for executive sleepers with four berths each.
Starting September 16, PNR patrons can also avail of a special trip with a train configuration bound for Naga City composed of two family sleepers and one executive cabins and a dining car.
The train executive likewise assured the public that PNR engineers have certified all the bridges and rail tracks going to and from Bicol.