“We’ve gone full speed on rehabilitation and repairs,” Ragragio said, pointing out that a kick-off run to Ligao in Albay is in the works. The train service has resumed its service up to Naga City in Camarines Sur, and Ragragio foresees a fully rehabilitated service to Legazpi City might be restored within the year.
“The PNR carries a significant role in the future of our mass transportation system that would, not only carry commuters in Metro Manila but also passengers who would like to travel in the northern and southern parts of Luzon,” Ragragio said.
President Aquino is very keen on restoring the south and north rails, Ragragio said, since both railways would give the public an alternative to reach provincial destinations in Luzon and likewise help decongest Metro Manila traffic.
“Having a revitalized railway system that would take passengers towards the Bicol region will promote tourism and spur economic activities,” Ragragio further explained.
The railway executive also emphasized the historical significance of PNR. “The PNRplayed an important role that shaped our nation to what it is today. It is very rich in history, and giving due recognition on its historical significance should be part of our tourist attraction,” Ragragio said.
On June 25, 1875, King Alfonso XII of Spain,issued a decree to come up with a general plan for the establishment of a railroad line in the island of Luzon. The plan was granted permit for its implementation on June 1, 1887,providing for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan, Pangasinan.
On July 31, 1887, the cornerstone was laid at the present site of its main terminal building at Tutuban, Manila. Five years later, on November 24, 1892, the first 195 kilometer railway line from Manila to Dagupan in Northern Luzon was opened for operation.
Construction of lines continued and by 1940, the railway had been extended up to Legaspi, Albay in the South and to San Fernando, La Union in the north. Branch lines were constructed from Paniqui, Tarlac to San Quintin, Pangasinan; from Tarlac, Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija; from Bigaa, Bulacan to Cabanatuan City; from San Fernando, Pampanga to Carmen, Pangasinan; from College to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and from Sta. Mesa to Hulo in Mandaluyong.
On June 20, 1946, Republic Act No. 4156, the new Charter was passed, renaming the Company to what it is today – Philippine National Railways (PNR). This law had been amended twice: first Republic Act No. 6366 enacted on August 20, 1971 which provided for the rehabilitation and selective modernization program of the Philippine National Railways; and the second by Presidential Decree No. 741 issued on July 3, 1975 which raised the capital stock to P1.5 billion.
On July 23, 1979, Executive Order No. 546 was issued by the President of the Republic of the Philippines, creating the then Ministry of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), with the PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAYS as one of the attached government agencies.
On February 23, 1995, the Improvement and Modernization of Commuter Line South had been started. The Commuter Line South starts at Tutuban, Manila,and ends in Calamba, Laguna with branch line to Carmona, Cavite, a total stretch of 40 kilometers.