By: Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines has received a donation of used train cars from the Japanese government, paving the way for more commuters to use the recently opened railway service between Metro Manila and the Bicol Region.
“With the arrival of these coaches and increasing passenger demand, PNR can set about scheduling additional train trips to better service its patrons in Metro Manila and in the Bicol Region, which would mean less waiting time to our valued passengers,” PNR General Manager Junio Ragragrio said.
The delivery of used coaches, which are now obsolete for Japan’s state-of-the-art train systems but still good enough for Philippine use, comes in time for President Aquino’s state visit to Japan this week.
The trains were supposed to be shipped to Manila in the first half of the year, but delivery was delayed due to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated areas of Northeast Japan.
Ragragrio said that aside from increasing the capacity of the PNR’s Bicol Express line, the new trains will also be used for commuter operations within Metro Manila.
PNR’s Bicol Express provides 6:30 p.m. trips every day from Tutuban in Manila and from Naga City in Camarines Sur. Fares are currently being pegged at promotional rates of P548 for reclining seats with four berths each plus a 30 percent discount for the sleeper and executive coaches.
Sleeper coaches are now priced at P665 each from P950 and P997.50 from P1,425 for executive sleepers with four berths.
Ragragrio said the donated train coaches looked “relatively new” and would still be usable for another 15 to 20 years.