President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade today, Saturday, June 25, re-opened the Philippine National Railways (PNR)’s Lucena-San Pablo commuter line mothballed for the past nine years.
Aside from being a passenger line, the Lucena-San Pablo loop can be used as a commercial or cargo freight service to unlock the economic potential of Southern Luzon.
It is part of PNR’s South Long Haul Project, the “Bicol Express” that connects Metro Manila and provinces in Southern Luzon, including Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon.
Stalled for almost a decade, the PNR San Pablo-Lucena loop is a 44-kilometer inter-provincial commuter railway with stations and flag stops for daily commuters or short travels.
The PNR Lucena-San Pablo commuter line ceased operation in October 2013, after the collapse of an abutment.
The year before, the rail line was operating once every two days.
Now, the line will operate 10 trips per day, connecting every town. It will have two terminal stations and four flag stops in between, with travel time of 1 hour and 30 minutes from Lucena, Quezon to San Pablo, Laguna.
The PNR San Pablo-Lucena line will open the economic corridors of Laguna, Quezon, and Bicol to ensure economic equity and progress in Southern Luzon, DOTr officials reiterated.
Furthermore, the route will aid in various aspects of socio-economic development, such as San Pablo City’s economic stability, mobility and connectivity as well as the relocation of informal settlers.
“This is part of our strategic objective on the social impact of railways and to bring value and relevance of the service to our unserved clientele in the corridor between San Pablo and Lucena,” stated PNR General Manager Junn Magno.
Earlier, the DOTr Railways sector pledged to complete its target projects before the term of President Duterte ends.
These include the opening the extended service of PNR in Southern Luzon; the Light Rail Transit Authority’s (LRTA) completion of repair of escalators and elevators as well as the improvement of facilities of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2), and the extension of Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) free rides for the third straight month.
“We are hopeful that the current pipeline projects that we have, particularly in the railways sector, will be continued by the incoming administration,” says DOTr Undersecretary for Rails Timothy John Batan.
At present, the DOTr has a dozen rail projects in various stages of implementation, the MRT-4, LRT-2 West Extension, the Subic-Clark Railway, and the Mindanao Railway Project, among them.