_ Welcome one and all to the PRHS blogsite. This site was set up to share photos, historical pieces, comment and virtually anything else pertaining to transportation in the Philippines, with a special emphasis on rail. Occasional we vary from topic, but this is the less serious side of the hobby shining through - cause sometimes, in this miserable and uptight world, we just take ourselves a little too seriously.
If you have a question Philippine railway related, just drop us a line, maybe we can help. _
It looks like the end of the line for PNR or Philippine
National Railways. Its franchise will expire this July. There is a pending bill
to extend the franchise but it is not certified as urgent.
I cannot understand why several administrations neglected
PNR through the years. Now, it seems PNR will just die during the watch of
It isn’t nostalgia that makes me feel we still need a
revitalized PNR. Rail transportation is essential as a means of affordable mass
transport and also for commerce and industry. The problems with those container
van trucks from the Manila pier, for instance, wouldn’t exist if we had a good
rail line for containers as in other countries.
PNR can also be the backbone of our domestic tourism
industry. I remember that my UP Prep high school class went on an “educational
tour” to Bicol riding a PNR train in the early ‘60s.
My father took me for my very first trip out of Manila as
a seven-year old on a train from Tutuban to Damortis in La Union, and by car (a
black Bel Air) up the zigzag to Baguio. Today’s kids are being deprived of such
a memorable childhood experience.
The tragedy of PNR is not only the neglect typical in a
government run business or service. Worse, a succession of presidents appointed
managers who apparently didn’t have the ability to run the railway service.
Some may have milked PNR to the point of making it a shadow of its past. They
even almost fully demolished the historic Paco Station for nothing.
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What is PNR today? The Northern line has vanished. A new
NorthRail line to Malolos and eventually to Clark didn’t get off the drawing
board after costing us hundreds of millions of dollars. It only enriched some
Filipino politicians and their Chinese collaborators.
For a short while during the first few months of P-Noy,
there was this attempt to run a Bicol Express service again. Under the leadership
of a Bicolano, Junio Ragrario Jr., PNR actually conducted test-runs covering
more than 400 kilometers.
PNR used a newly refurbished locomotive train with
several hand-me-down tourist class coaches donated by the Japanese government.
Ragrario said the Bicol test-run was 95 percent successful.
The Manila-Naga trip took nine hours, shorter than the
usual 10-hour travel time by bus. Ragrario added that all train coaches for the
“Bicol Express” are air-conditioned. We didn’t even have it this good in the good
But one typhoon washed away portions of the tracks and
the plan evaporated back into a dream. Ragrario himself was replaced by a
Caviteño when DOTC Secretary Abaya assumed office. So now PNR may even just
fade away from existence if its franchise is not renewed.
It is so sad that while bullet trains are running in many
countries, we don’t even have a decent rail service. A JICA consultant, who is
probably the most learned man about Philippine transportation, lamented that we
once had a good rail transit system.
According to Dr. Shizuo Iwata, that was circa 1920s. We
had 85 kilometers of rail lines then, Dr. Iwata said, more than the pitiful 50
kilometers we have now. The pre-WW2 tranvia system itself was described as
state-of-the-art and second to none in East Asia. It is hard to believe we were
actually pace setters… hindi kulelat like we are today.
Dr. Iwata also said that a good rail-based mass transit
system is essential for our fast growing metropolis. This would make it
possible for people to live as far away as Los Baños or even Lucena and work in
Manila. Our decrepit railway system is a daily punishment imposed on our poor
Top Filipino transport expert, Rene Santiago, agrees with
Dr. Iwata. Rene, who is consulted by a number of ASEAN countries in planning
their transport systems, thinks we need some 300 kilometers of rail lines in
the next 15 years. Sadly, he said, he doesn’t expect DOTC to build even one
kilometer of new rail line before 2016.
Rene is correct. DOTC is fumbling badly just trying to
implement a 4-kilometer expansion of LRT 2 to Masinag in Antipolo. That was a
low hanging fruit from the start of the P-Noy administration, but up to now
they are still at the design stage.
For PNR, it would be better if government just took a
proposal actually presented by Ramon Ang to undertake the cost of modernizing
the line from north to south. I wrote a column about this May 30, 2011.
Refreshing our memory, San Miguel made a proposal to buy
51 percent control of PNR and still have government as a partner in its
development. At no cost to taxpayers, San Miguel offered to develop a national
railroad system starting with the Luzon line of PNR that will run slower trains
on at-grade level and fast trains on top.
RSA told me three years ago that San Miguel has
commissioned a group that includes international companies with experience in
bullet trains to study the possibility of building a bullet train railway that
will run from the north to the south end of Luzon. San Miguel proposes to run
the bullet train railway on the Laoag-Manila-Bicol route. A high-speed train
service will boost the economy in general.
PNR, when it was still Manila Rail Road or MRR, used to
haul abaca from Bicol to Manila when Manila hemp was a major dollar earner. PNR
could still carry tourists to and agricultural produce from Bicol and improve
economic development there.
I remember asking RSA how he expects to make money
considering the large amount of capex he must invest upfront. He said he is
looking at PNR not only as a train company, but also a general logistics
company. That’s what Warren Buffet said when he bought Burlington Northern, a
Consumer goods marketers will find the railroad the more
efficient way to do Luzon wide distribution of their products. He will develop
the adjacent real estate and make money on malls, distribution bodegas and
other property ventures near train stations.
RSA said he has made a pitch to DOTC early on and all he
got was a polite “we will study” kind of reply. But from the discussions, it
was clear that the bureaucrats do not want anything that cuts their control
That’s also why DOTC rejected a proposal of Manny
Pangilinan to take over the job of rehabilitating MRT3, taking the legal
problems away and giving the government a royalty too. It is a no-brainer but
as always, DOTC wants to keep government control even if it had been shown
government is totally incapable of running rail systems, except to run these to
As I wrote back in 2011, it is stupid to ignore a
proposal like this. What is there to lose with taking Ramon Ang on his word? If
Ramon Ang fails, the attempt would still have generated economic activity and
the failure will cost PNR and the taxpayers nothing. But if the venture
succeeds, the government and the people benefit tremendously.
If you are naïve enough to believe their press releases,
DOTC supposedly has big plans for Philippine railways. Cosette Canilao,
executive director of the PPP Center, announced plans for DOTC to present a
master plan for the proposed 900-kilometer Integrated Luzon Railway (ILR) worth
$5 billion connecting Cagayan in the north all the way to Bicol in the south.
According to Ms. Canilao, CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada is
set to complete the feasibility study for the ILR that would run from Cagayan
in Isabela down to Sorsogon in Bicol. It would cover the entire north and south
networks of the state-run Philippine National Railway (PNR) from Manila to La
Union as well as a branch line from Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and a
possible extension to Cagayan.
The south network traverses from Manila to Legaspi City,
including the branch line from Calamba to Batangas City. For the North-South
Commuter Rail, JICA was tapped to help the government complete the feasibility
study for the commuter rail that would run from Malolos in Bulacan all the way
down to Calamba in Laguna.
Great plans if you can believe that DOTC is capable of
implementing any plan at all. But they love conducting international road
shows, junkets so to speak, supposedly to get investors interested in a PPP for
rails. Never mind that a local investor, San Miguel, has expressed interest
three years ago and would save them the cost and the trouble of enticing
But first things first. Get PNR’s franchise renewed by
Congress. Then, sit down with interested local investors ready to resurrect
PNR. The most logical things to do are beyond the comprehension of bureaucrats…
so we remain f--ked up, as always.
Hello, I was horrified to read this posting on the former RIHSPI Group this morning and guess others have seen it. After 15 years I would have expected most of us would have grown up a bit, but it seems some still hold on to ancient bias and unwarranted childish hatred. As someone who openly supported my friend (and RIHSPI President) Karel, plus who had boxes full of donations waiting to go to them when the museum was open, I can assure I am a long way from happy about their apparent stalling. I am also greatly supportive of the new splinter group set up by a new member to preserve some of the few things remaining since 2009. I've remained quiet about this long enough, but the endless attacks have worn thin. As a foreigner in the Philippines, my attacker seems to feel that no other foreigner should have an interest. The fact I started what become the railfan hobby today is seen as a big threat and, as such, rumours of my trying to control the hobby there are made up in order to discredit me. Even when we set up RIHSPI it was always the plan that Filipinos should run it. Why? Because I am very pro-Philippines, I love Filipinos and it is their country, so they should run it. My only aim from 1999 was to start a hobby there, something I have been quite successful at achieving. However despite the passing years, the defamatory comments have continued and I had thus decided to concentrate on promoting the model railway hobby there. This, I am happy to say, has been a lot more positive. My closest friend, who passed away a few years ago, pushed me to never give up on the Philippines. For him I have continued despite the pain this attacker has caused me. The reality is, by Philippine law I cannot control any group (RIHSPI or otherwise) in the Philippines. This fact does not stop the person accusing me of this ridiculous accusation. I've no interest in running a group there (never have and never will). I have enough things on my plate with the hobby here, the PRHS, modeling group I run and every day life to be bothered moving there to live and run a society. Indeed I was offered, even voted in as leader of one group without my knowledge, but still declined. Moving there is the only legal way I can run a group. But still, severe paranoia leads to these sorts of baseless comments from people who, in reality, do little for the hobby except the occasional train journey. NEWSFLASH: A hobby does not survive on that. The attacker has been very successful in removing my interest from the 'Database Project', a plan to collate tonnes of information on locomotives and rollingstock in the Philippines for donating to archives and museums in the Philippines and around the world. We were passionate about giving something important back to Philippine research but the aim was to destroy this and it was done very well. I am not angry, I just feel so sorry for someone who's life has got so low that they must hurt others to try to feel some sort of self worth. Especially when they use the name of dead friends to convey their message. I'm even more saddened as it was a person I thought was a friend who needed to be treated as such, all the time while being white anted from behind.
The Philippines is important. The railway hobby is important. Friendship is very important. Three points to always remember when others are trying to feed to one sided hatred.
MANILA, Philippines —With its Charter set to expire in three months, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will wind down its operations in three years unless Congress passes a bill extending its life, Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Friday.
Recto said PNR’s Charter, Republic Act 4126, expires on June 20, 2014 “but the executive has not acted yet to seek its extension.”
“If its Charter is not extended, then it says there in RA 4126, that the PNR must wind down its operations in three years, prepare for dissolution and dispose its properties,” he said in a statement.
“Once PNR’s charter expires, then the process of demobilization begins,” Recto said.
Section 16 of RA 4126, he said, provides that PNR’s disposal of properties “shall not be for the purpose of continuing the business for which it was established.”
Recto said the dismantling of PNR would mean that “the real estate it owns which is valued in the billions of pesos can be the subject of a “bidding war by real estate companies.”
“If you recall, even the space above the tracks are worth billions of pesos in so-called air rights. You can build a road above the tracks provided you buy that space from PNR. While it may be poor in rolling stock, PNR is a Colossus when it comes to land holdings,” he said.
The senator then urged the Palace to send to Congress a bill extending PNR’s corporate life “and use its majority clout” in both houses to pass it before Congress goes on recess in the second week of June.”
“We need to fast-track it. We cannot allow the dissolution train to leave the station. If there’s one bill that must be railroaded, then this is the one,” he said.
Recto, an administration ally, criticized what he described as “skewed prioritization” of government, which could be seen, he said, in the national budget where the annual subsidy of P344 million for the PNR, which carries 25 million passengers a year, is equivalent to the budget for a 17-kilometer road concreting project in one town in the Visayas.
The same “least priority’ treatment for PNR, he said, was also evident in the Pasig River ferry service.
“There seems to be an official fixation with roads but an allergy to ferries and rail,” he said.
Recto said the revival of the Pasig River ferry service has yet to receive official blessings despite its feasibility as an alternative mode of transportation in traffic-choked Metro Manila.
While commending Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDDA) “bold and creative move” to unveil its version of the ferry recently, the senator said it needs more than the trial runs of prototypes to get the ferry back in service.
“What is needed is an unequivocal policy statement, which would include funding commitments for the ferry’s revival and expansion. Even for so-called ‘signaling’ purposes, that would be enough in jumpstarting things,” he said.
The senator has been batting for the tapping of underutilized mass transport systems, like the PNR and the mothballed Pasig River ferry as Metro Manila girds for traffic with the simultaneous implementation of 17 road projects.
Recto had earlier said that doubling the number of PNR trains plying the 44-kilometer Tutuban, Manila- Sta. Rosa Laguna line alone will allow it to ferry 25 million more passengers a year.
I am not going to go in depth here, I have already written a multi part article on the anniversary that will appear on one of our sites, or if PNR employed perhaps in your letterbox, shortly. My involvement with the Philippines has been a rollercoaster over the years. While I love the place, there has been a lot of pain endured, especially from selfish foreigners who feel they stake a claim on the hobby there. They nearly, very NEARLY won that battle, but that hatred only served to make me stronger and now that strength, along with realizing this milestone has arrived, has given me a renewed passion for the Philippine railways that they once tried to diminish.
Part of the celebrations for this event include a brief article covering the years since 1999, the trials and the achievements, also the reopening of this PRHS Blogsite. Today the PRHS again reverts to its mostly internet existence following the failure to launch a preservation group in the country, however our missions of promoting the railfan interest, and now the model railway interest, remains the same. We eagerly await the next 15 years, but for now, we celebrate with all our friends, both railfan and Philippine railway industry, the last 15 years of personal passion for your wonderful country.
Yes, the site has been quiet for a while. I have been mulling over the pointlessness of the hobby for a while now, following the last
pointless attack and accusations by a American ex-pat living in Alabang, it has become more readily apparent that the Philippine railway hobby is becoming more of a chore than a real interest. It does seem that my often being accredited with the starting of a railway hobby in the Philippines is considered as a threat to those who do not wish to make such an effort themselves. Over the 15 years I have promoted the hobby I have found both locals, foreigners and ex-pats who, for some inexplicable reason, would rather bring hate to the hobby than actually have someone try to push it and do more than they were willing to. Even sadder is the fact that many locals wish to follow their lead, making it almost impossible for those actually wanting to further the hobby, to actually make the differences needed. I look back on where we were going, and then at where we have gone. The splinterization, followed by abandonment of RIHSPI. The loss of most of the historical carriages still surviving. The railways themselves more in decline since President Gloria, than on any sort of increase. What become of the positiveness we held in 2007 when the late William Sullivan, Karel Brouwers and myself decided there should be a society to promote the history of the now rebuilding railways.
All was going so well, but then jealousy, hate, backstabbing and pettiness revealed their ugly heads and soon enough trouble took over from the grand plan. Nothing but rampant suspicion and bullshit remained in its place.
The tide was turned on this weekend just past, following 6 months work, a successful weekend of promoting the Maroochy Shire Tramway hobby and a very successful fundraiser for the local museum, followed by, not gossip, backstabbing and hate, but appreciation for the effort driving me on to want to do more. So much done in one weekend - imagine what we could have done since 2007 for Philippine preservation had we been allowed to function unrestrictedly. But that was not to be. RIP - MCBP, 7E, CMC/CTC, 7C and sole 4 wheel tank car.
Today I thus find myself announcing the demise of two of my Philippine related websites, the PRHS Home page set up to raise money to help Philippine preservation, as well as my 'Manila Downunder' website which covered the activities of my barkada down here in Sydney, back before the group imploded through similar hatred in the community. This blog site is under review, while the PRHS Database website is the one that will continue to survive as part of the 'Philippine Railway Historical Society'. The PRHS forums and Facebook sites will continue also, with most of the people seeking to destroy the hobby have since left the group.
I do thank the many people who have given of themselves to make this hobby great, despite also going through their own rough patches during the years. My beloved Filipino friends Roberto, Arvin, Reynante, Brian and Michael who have time and time again proven what true friends they are. Plus the awesome Alan Hicks who does so much for so many and Karel Brouwers who went far and above in an effort to save Philippine railway preservation and show forgiveness.
All you guys will remain close to my heart forever - you are the essence of self giving and promoting of the hobby.
The downsizing does not mean my leaving the hobby (apologizes Harv), just that I need to aim some effort at raising money and helping projects and hobbies that truly appreciate it. My recent censorship on Facebook, then subsequent accusations of doing it myself (what the???) has lead me to realise that the hobby there, in large, does not appreciate and this has been proven by the leaving of so many who once contributed so much. While I see the Philippine hobby dying down in the next decade, I am proud to know that I made an achievement in my time there. I shall continue to research, continue to model and continue to help my dear friends in the Philippines, all of whom have shown a love for the country and its railways that is selfless. I AM HONOURED, TRULY HONOURED, TO KNOW YOU. I shall also continue to help those in need in the Philippines where possible. The poor, the weather victims, the needy, because this is something that needs to be done. Something I doubt my detractors, who care more for themselves than the country, would ever consider doing.
Anyone wanting stuff from this site, and the two that are closing down, should do so now. I am unsure how long they will remain viewable.
Lets all pray for better times for the Philippines and a time when everyone can work together and trust each other, so we can achieve so much.
Yeah it is hard to believe, but even after all this time of peace and constructive work, there are still those out there who, for whatever reason, are anti foreign involvement. It has long been our policy to make these attacks available to the public as we have nothing to hide. Its a policy that has drawn huge negative comment from those with the most to hide. A report coming shortly.
For all your Philippine railway information photos and chat, please visit out HOMEPAGE! Our group and activities are free - we are here to promote interest in the Philippine railways, make friendships and help with information. We are not a fundraising group and do not ask for funds.
Do you support the past and future of the railways in the Philippines? Come chat with us atPRHSYahoogroup.We look forward to meeting you.
Share and discuss photos on our PRHS Photography group. Read our free magazine - Along Da Riles! We also publish an occasional 'Railfans Guide To The Philippines' for free. It can be downloaded via the website, or be got via email at the 'Along Da Riles' link above.
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Welcome to the Philippine Railway Historical Society News and Information Site!
This new website will contain historical items, personal views and latest news regarding the railways of the Philippines.
We always welcome news, photos and small articles for inclusion on both this site and our parent group (see below). Please email us!
The Philippine Railways SIG and Chat Forums have further information regarding these interesting railways and also a number of chat forums for those interested in all areas of Philippine transportation.
Our various forums have the latest news and information from a number of very knowledgeable people. Please join in with the discussions and meet new people.
Recent changes in this blog pages name!
The 'Philippine Railways Historical Society' was originally formed by the 'Philippine Railways SIG', with the aim to set up a museum on Philippine railway history in Manila.
We now act as a information society, having removed ourselves from the badder elements of the Manila railfan hobby, existing to meet and help others with similar interests.
Following much trouble over the years, we now have a zero tolerence policy (2012) for stupidity and the usual lies that go with dealing in these sorts of groups.