An alternative to freight trucks: freight trains
The City of Manila passed an ordinance banning trucks in the streets of the city in certain days of the week. With just a week of implementation, we have seen decongested streets in the city, and lots of cargoes on hold in the Port of Manila. There have been calls to the solving this by having some of the volume of the cargoes go directly to the ports of Batangas and Subic Freeport. Another is to revive the Freight Service of Philippine National Railways. Freight trains look like this.
But we are still studying if reviving the long distance commuter trains and freight trains by now. During the Spanish and American times, with primitive building methods, our railways extended to San Fernando in La Union, San Jose in Nueva Ecija, the lakeshore towns of Laguna, Bicol Cavite and Batangas. There were ambitious plans during the 50s and early 60s to extend the routes up to the ends of Luzon in Cagayan province and Sorsogon. These plans were scrapped by Ferdinand Marcos in favor of the Maharlika Highway (AH 26) system of national roads. If Marcos instead continued the construction and eventual expansion of the railway system, we don’t know how far it might have been extended now. These set of maps expose the extent of our railway system during PNR’s glory days.
The extent of the railroads in the island of Luzon.
Close-up of the branch lines in the Manila Area and surrounding provinces. There were lines going to Antipolo and San Mateo in Rizal Provinces and to Cavite City. These were abandoned because of low ridership.
If I’m not mistaken there is a place in Calamba called junction. Here’s the reason, there are three branch of the railroads from Calamba, one going to Batangas, one going to Bicol and another going to the lakeshore towns of Laguna. Actually the terminus of the railroad in Batangas is near the port area.
There is actually a proposal by DOTC to revive the railroads under the PPP scheme. Once the Feasibility Study is completed and if the revival of the national railway is economical, the DOTC can invite bidders already. But what do we know, it’s DOTC (running jokes here).
The truck ban, along with the “carmaggedon” from the different construction projects here, should make us realize that buses and cargo trucks will never replace the trains for efficient land transportation. Of course the PNR should enjoin the public to ride the trains while the infra projects at the highways are being built, but then again the most sustainable way to transport people and goods is through trains, so the PNR should improve its services so that even with the skyway and other projects done, people will consider to travel through trains even if there are more expressways in Metro Manila to choose from.
Railway Branches from here! visit them!