LEGAZPI CITY, May 17 (PIA) — Albay Governor and Bicol Regional Development Council chair Joey Sarte Salceda sees the Railway Development Summit next month as a way of convincing President Benigno S. Aquino III to put railway development at the center of the national agenda.
Salceda said that the development or modernization of the railway system in the country will play a key pillar of national development and as a conduit of net resource transfers to the countryside.
The development prospects for the railway development are the central recommendations that will be presented to the Railway Development Summit, also a brainchild of Salceda, set on June 21 in Metro Manila.
Salceda said the summit hopes to gain strong support from President Benigno Aquino III who will be invited as its keynote speaker.
Salceda noted that the southern backbone of the national railway will take only a travel time of six hours from Legaspi City to Manila with a railway service extending up to Matnog in Sorsogon where a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) sea port is located.
Meanwhile RDC secretariat led by Engr. Luis Banua, the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 and the Bicol Regional Development Plan identified the revival, rehabilitation and modernization of the railway system as a priority infrastructure development program.
The train stations will also be developed as mix use commercial zones to spur economic growth in its environs.
Salceda said, “Recommendation is also up for the revival of spur lines to Legaspi and Tabaco ports, construction of spur lines to Daet, Caramoan and other major towns in Bicol for passenger and multi-purpose freight services.”
National and Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Bicol assistant regional director Luis Banua said that Luzon regions including Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and RDC of CaLaBaRZon has signified interest on the railway development initiative of RDC for the interconnection of the north and south railways and the Metro Manila railway system.
The business community, on the other hand, has emphasized that cargo and passenger train services will propel trade and industry in Bicol.
Known as “Bicol Express” in the past decades due to its role as Bicol’s most popular mode of transportation, the railway industry had an observable slowdown and off-track direction in recent years that was overtaken by other reliable and efficient modes of transportation in the region.
Another line called Mayon Limited is a direct touristic line from Tutuban up to the historical station of Legazpi City, Albay.
The summit is expected to fuel anew the engines of the “Bicol Express”, “Mayon Limited” and the “Matnog Spur Line” back to its tracks to regain its past glory as the region’s favorite mode of transportation. (MAL/JJJP-PIA5/Albay)