From: THE NEWS TODAY - Iloilo City
BRIDGING THE GAP
Henry F. Funtecha, Ph.D. 2009
The railroad network in the Visayas (II)
In the previous column, it was stated that the construction of a system of railroads in the Visayas was one that was given emphasis by the government authorities in the early days of the American occupation of the Philippines. These railway lines were to be constructed in Panay, Cebu and Negros.
The preparation for the construction of the Visayan railway system began in June 1906. After location surveys were completed, orders were placed for large quantities of construction materials, tools and machinery, 4 locomotives, 50 construction flat cars of 40 tons capacity and 50 ballast cars from the United States (Manila Daily Bulletin, November 3, 1907).
In order to be able to unload and care for the shipments upon their arrival and for all future orders, surveys were made for terminal grounds. These were found in Lapuz, La Paz across the City of Iloilo and along the pier in the City of Cebu. Temporary wharves and bodegas were constructed, and temporary tracks of light rails were laid to help in the storage and movements of the materials and tools.
By the early part of November 1906, the task of locating the lines where the railway will pass were partially done. The relevant maps and profiles of the final location of a 36-km. line from Iloilo City to Pototan and another 36-km. line from Cebu City to Danao had been filed with the Insular Government. On November 14, 1906, the American governor-general formally opened the construction of the Panay line in Iloilo, followed by that in Cebu on November 17 (Report of the Philippine Commission 1907).
In both Panay and Cebu, construction works involved not only the laying of the railroad tracks but also grading of the land and construction of the terminal building, bridges and culverts. The steel spans for bridges were fabricated in the U.S.
To provide for the operation of the lines whose construction was in full swing in mid-1907, orders were placed in the U.S. for 6 additional locomotives, 23 passenger coaches, and 80 freight cars. At this point, there were already in Panay and Cebu 7 locomotives and 100 freight cars (Manila Daily Bulletin November 3, 1907).
The locomotives were American in make and consisted of 50-ton for heavy construction work and ballasting, 30-ton and 35-ton for mixed train service. Generally, 70-pound steel rails, hardwood of the highest grade for ties and 6 inches of ballast were used. The passenger coaches had steel underframe and were equipped with complete air brakes and signals. The first-class and parlor coaches were finished in teak and the second class in sheated yellow pine (Report of the Philippine Commission 1909).
The railroad project in Negros, on the other hand, was postponed by the Americans to a later date because of the pre-occupation on Panay and Cebu. Unfortunately, the work on the Negros line never materialized.
On September 16, 1907, the Philippine Railway Co. opened the 36-km. line between Talisay and Danao in Cebu. In Panay, the first 36-km. line from Iloilo City to Pototan was opened some time in December 1907. The complete line to Capiz was not completed until June 1910 (Manila Daily Bulletin November 3, 1907).