By Emmie V. Abadilla
Twenty years after closing the Philippine National Railways (PNR) line from Caloocan to Dela Rosa in Makati, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) yesterday reopened the commuter service as part of the government’s initiative to revive the country’s rail system.
The Caloocan-Dela Rosa line is the fastest and most cost-efficient means of transportation from Caloocan to Makati, with running time of 37 minutes.
It was shut down sometime in 1997, as part of it was supposed to be utilized for the Northrail Project; however, much of the rail tracks lay unused.
Furthermore, “The Caloocan line segment was a departmental track which PNR used between the Tutuban and Caloocan workshops,” explained PNR General Manager Junn Magno.
“It was heavily damaged because of water intrusion, so we repaired the track back to common carrier grade. The Light Rail Transport Authority (LRTA) offered old ballast material in May, 2018. We used that to rebuild the track.”
“Then the Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) offered to haul it out of LRTA Pasay Yard. When things were in place we began refurbishing the old stations,” he added.
During yesterday’s soft opening, PNR deployed six trains with a total capacity of 700 to 800 to accommodate an expected 10,000 passengers.
Now, the first trip from Caloocan to Dela Rosa leaves at 5:45 a.m., while the last trip from Caloocan is at 5:15 p.m.
From Dela Rosa to Caloocan, the first trip leaves at 6:28 a.m., while the last trip is at 5:58 p.m.
The initial 13-km route run stops at 10th Avenue (Macario Asistio), 5th Avenue, Solis, Blumentritt, España, Sta. Mesa and Dela Rosa stations.
PNR set the minimum fare at P12 for non-aircon coaches and P15, for aircon.
The Caloocan-Dela Rosa, Makati Line shall be operational until the full blast construction of the PNR Manila-Clark Railway line.
PNR sought to rebuild the tracks to gradually transfer material away from the Caloocan workshops, to pave the way for the North-South Commuter Railway or the PNR North 1, which will run from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos in Bulacan.
The project broke ground in January this year, according to GM Magno.
“This is a good initiative from PNR,” says DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.
“We will not just add, but also rehabilitate. We wanted to move fast, but at the same time, we had to ensure we’re not missing out on any possible solution. This is a good opportunity to make use of what is already there. This is added service to the public and additional earnings for the government,” he concluded. (EVA)