Saturday, December 8, 2007
Philippine Railway Preservation: Is Time Running Out?
Is time fast running out for achieving the goals of starting an operating railway museum, has the time long past already?
It is an interesting question. Many very wonderful pieces of rollingstock and lineside equipment have long gone from the railways of the Philippine National Railways and its predecessors.
There once existed a huge variety of steam/diesel locomotives and rollingstock, some incredible designs that just begged to be looked at. Today there are really only a handful of rotting steam locomotives left in various states of disrepair and three designs of diesel locomotive.
On the rollingstock front, incredibly, we fair a lot better. There are still numerous types of passenger vehicle in existence, although it would be fair to say that some, 7E a particular example, that are beyond economical repair and are teetering on the edge of oblivion.
Plenty of other exciting carriages still exist, amongst them PC2-86 (or Kalayan) car, the former presidential car once used by Marcos and the last few operational DMUs.
Freight stock also continues to have a large selection of preservable examples and it is amongst these that possibly one of the more important examples of preservable rollingstock exists.
What is likely the last fixed wheelbased freight vehicle (a small tank wagon exists at Caloocan, but it is doubtful this was used outside the workshop) existing in the Philippines resides off the track in the centre of the huge Tayuman/Tutuban yard.
At last report the demolision crew had arrived at Tayuman station and, as reported below, destroyed the old station. Other reports earlier in the year had said that the whole system was to close before the end of 2007 so formations/trackwork could be completely rebuilt.
While the closure has not yet occured, it must be close. Bringing with it will be the total end of need for all current stock, except possibly for works trains, and see items like this lone remaining boxcar just thrown away as being in the way of progress.
I have certainly made mention of this important relic to the new railway preservation group there but to date have recieved no reply on the subject of movement to ensure its safety. Perhaps if other readers start making their voices heard about it to the powers that be in the group they may listen.
Sadly my concerns regarding a very old small concrete 'ENGINE STOP' sign at Blumentritt went unnoticed and it is likely it has been trashed and gone forever. Lets hope the same fate does not await this boxcar, a wonderful link to the past years of the Philippine railways.
I feel there is still time, but time if fast running out. We are not talking years here, we are talking only months.
While much is gone, intense researching will help locate photographs, documents, perhaps even movie footage, that could help fill in the gaps. Train-simulator technology nowdays means that you can even recreate driving an old MRR steamer through Tarlac.
The project has a long way to go, they know it wont be easy, but they have the capability should they restrain the political gerbil, rebuild bridges and get on with the job.
I wish them well.
Unite for the Philippine railway hobby, together we can make it great.