Philippine National Railways

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) (Filipino: Pambansang Daambakal ng Pilipinas, Castilian: Ferrocarril Nacional de Filipinas) is a state-owned railway company in the Philippines, operating a single line of track on Luzon. As of 2016, it operates one commuter rail service in Metro Manila and local services between Sipocot, Naga City and Legazpi City in the Bicol Region.[1] PNR began operations on November 24, 1892 as the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan, during the Spanish colonial period, and later becoming the Manila Railroad Company (MRR) during the American colonial period. It became the Philippine National Railways on June 20, 1964 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4156. The PNR is an agency of the Department of Transportation.

Philippine National Railways
Pambansang Daambakal ng Pilipinas
IndustryRail transport
FoundedNovember 24, 1892 (as Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan)
June 20, 1964 (as Philippine National Railways)
Area served
Metro Manila
Bicol Region
Key people
Roberto T. Lastimoso Chairman
Junn Magno, General Manager
Commuter rail
Inter-city rail
Freight services
OwnerGovernment of the Philippines under DOTr

PNR used to operate over 1,100 km (684 mi) of route from La Union to the Bicol Region.[2] However, neglect reduced PNR's service. Persistent problems with informal settlers in the 1990s contributed further to PNR's decline. In 2006, Typhoons Milenyo and Reming caused severe damage to the network, resulting in the suspension of the Manila-Bicol services. In 2007 the Philippine government initiated a rehabilitation project aiming to remove informal settlers from the PNR right of way, revitalize commuter services in Metro Manila, and restore the Manila-Bicol route as well as lost services in Northern Luzon. In July 2009, PNR unveiled a new corporate identity and inaugurated new rolling stock. Long-distance Bicol services resumed in June 2011, but were suspended again in October 2012, leaving only local service between Naga and Sipocot.[3] Local service between Naga and Legazpi resumed in October 2015.[4]


Spanish period

On June 25, 1875, under a royal decree issued by King Alfonso XII of Spain, the required Inspector of Public Works of the Philippine Islands was requested to submit a railway system plan for Luzon. The plan, which was submitted five months later by Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro, was entitled Memoria Sobre el Plan General de Ferrocarriles en la Isla de Luzón, and was promptly approved. A concession for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan was granted to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocarril de Manila–Dagupan (Manila–Dagupan Railway), later to become the Manila Railway Company, Ltd. of London, on June 1, 1887.[5][6]

The Ferrocarril de Manila–Dagupan, which constitutes much of the North Main Line today, began construction in July 31, 1887 with the laying of the cornerstone for Tutuban station, and the 195-kilometer (121 mi) line opened on November 24, 1892. Expansion of the Philippine railway network would not begin until the American colonial period, when on December 8, 1902, the Philippine Commission passed legislation authorizing the construction of another railway line, which would later form the South Main Line.

American period

Additional legislation was passed in 1909 authorizing further railway construction and the use of government bonds to finance them, and by 1916, 792.5 kilometers (492.4 mi) of track had been built by the company, which had reorganized itself as the Manila Railroad Company of New Jersey (MRR).[7] Apart from the North and South Main Lines, other lines branching out of these two main lines were built, like the lines to Rosales and San Quintin, Pangasinan; San Jose and Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija; Dau, Carmen, Floridablanca and Arayat, all in Pampanga province, as well as inside the US Air Base Fort Stotsenburg which became Clark Air Base; Antipolo, Taytay, and Montalban, a spur line to Nielsen Field in what is now Ayala Avenue in the Makati Financial District from Culi Culi (now Pasay Road) Station, all in Rizal province; Cavite City and the nearby US Air Base of Sangley Point as well as Noveleta and Naic, both in Cavite province; Canlubang, Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan all in Laguna province; Batangas City and Bauan both in Batangas province, as well as a line connecting San Pablo City in Laguna to Luta (later Malvar) in Batangas province (this used to be part of Main Line South until a shorter cut-off line connecting Los Banos on the Santa-Cruz/Pangsanjan line to San Pablo was opened); Port Ragay in the Bicol province of Camarines Sur; as well as till Tabaco from Legaspi, Albay.

Similar to other railroads at the time, the Manila Railroad Company suffered from financial difficulties during World War I, and on February 4, 1916, the Philippine Assembly passed Act No. 2574, authorizing the Governor-General to negotiate for the nationalization of the MRR's assets. The MRR was eventually nationalized in January 1917, with the Philippine government paying ₱8 million to the company's owners and assuming ₱53.9 million in outstanding debt. Consequently, the MRR's management shifted from British to American hands, and in 1923, José Paez became the first Filipino general manager.[7]

During the 1920s, the MRR embarked on a general program of improvements as a result of operating surpluses accrued over much of the decade. The ₱30 million program allowed for the extension of railway service on the North Main Line from Dagupan to San Fernando in La Union, the extension of the South Main Line to Legazpi in Albay, and the construction of several spur lines. The last rail connecting Manila to Bicol was laid on November 17, 1937 and regular direct service between Manila and Legazpi was inaugurated in May 8, 1938, and by 1941, the MRR operated 1,140.5 kilometers (708.7 mi) of track.[7]

On December 14, 1941, at the start of World War II, the MRR was put under U.S. military control, and on December 30, the MRR management was ordered to allow U.S. military forces to destroy network infrastructure, resulting in very extensive damage to train facilities and right of way. Coupled with further damage during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, where the Imperial Japanese Army operated services on a very limited basis using whatever could be salvaged, and further fighting in the Allied liberation of the Philippines by the combined American and Filipino forces a few years later, damages to railroad property amounted to around ₱30 million.[7] By the end of the war, only 452 kilometers (281 mi) were operational,[5] largely as a result of the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army performing temporary repairs on railroad infrastructure for military purposes. MRR property was later returned to the Philippine government on February 1, 1946.[7]

Post-war period

Following the war, the MRR was able to restore limited services, using surplus military equipment and payments made by the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army for use of railway facilities in the Philippines Campaign. By July 1, 1947, funded by a ₱20 million rehabilitation allocation set aside by the Philippine government, around 75% of the entire railway network prior to 1941 was rehabilitated. By 1951, with the MRR receiving ₱3 million in war reparations funds, 941.9 kilometers (585.3 mi) of track, representing 82.5% of the total railway network prior to 1941, was in operation.[7] Later in the 1950s, the MRR fleet of locomotives was converted from steam to diesel engines, and the company was given a new charter under Republic Act No. 4156, becoming the modern-day Philippine National Railways.

Creation of PNR

Natural calamities such as the 1973 and 1975 floods disrupted services and forced the closure of several parts of the main lines. On July 23, 1979, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Executive Order No. 546, which designated the Philippine National Railways as an attached agency of the then Department of Transportation and Communications.[5]

In 1988, during the administration of Corazon Aquino, the North main line was closed, with trains unable to reach various provinces in the country. The South main line was also closed due to typhoons and floods, and the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1993, in which ash flows and lava destroyed the rail line and its facilities. However, jeeps, buses and taxis were popular, and many people were swayed from the present service until 2009.

When Fidel V. Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino, he decided to rehabilitate the South Main Line from Tutuban to Legaspi, and appointed Jose B. Dado as the new PNR general manager. A railway system running from Manila to Clark was also set to be constructed in the 1990s, when Ramos signed a memorandum of agreement with Juan Carlos I of Spain for its construction on September 1994, but the project was later cancelled due to disagreement on the source of funding.[8]

Contemporary history

Rehabilitation attempts and the NorthRail project

The administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo actively pursued the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways through various investments and projects designed to revive Philippine rail transport,[5][9][10] despite the numerous problems involved. Total reconstruction of rail bridges and tracks, including replacement of the current 35-kilogram (77-pound) track with newer 50-kilogram (110-pound) tracks[10] and the refurbishing of stations, were part of the rehabilitation and expansion process. The first phase, converting all the lines of the Manila metropolitan area, were completed in 2009.[10] On July 14, 2009, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presided over the launch of the new diesel multiple units from Hyundai Rotem for the Philippine National Railways. As part of its new image, a new brand name, PNR Filtrack was added and a new PNR logo was unveiled until the succeeding administration decided to revert to the original logo.[11]

The San Cristobal bridge in Calamba, Laguna was rebuilt in May 2011. The Bicol Express train service was inaugurated on June 29, with a maiden voyage between Manila and Naga City plus a return trip back to the terminus on July 1. This inaugural trip was marred by the collapse of the embankment at Malaguico, Sipocot. It was discovered before the train passed through and was repaired. The restored Bicol Express intercity service was offered on a daily basis, running mostly during night time.

The Northrail project involved the upgrading of the existing single track to an elevated dual-track system, converting the rail gauge from narrow gauge to standard gauge, and linking Manila to Malolos City in Bulacan and further on to Angeles City, Clark Special Economic Zone, the Clark International Airport. The railway project was contracted out by the Arroyo administration in 2003 to China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation (CNMEC) for an original cost of $421 million.[12] This project was estimated to cost around US$500 million, with China offering to provide some US$400 million in concessionary financing.[13] Construction of the railway was halted, then temporarily continued in January 2009, and then stopped again in March 2011, due to a series of anomalies with the foreign contractor,[14] before finally being scrapped in 2011 by the Aquino administration on lingering legal issues and corruption allegations.

The DOTC has examined reviving the project by commissioning a feasibility study by CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada. Part of the study examined having a Malolos-Tutuban-Calamba-Los Baños Commuter Line.[15][16]

Current developments

The current administration under Rodrigo Duterte is working towards the rehabilitation of the PNR, the establishment of a railway from New Clark City to Metro Manila, the North-South Commuter Railway,[17] the reconstruction of the current South Commuter line, and the reestablishment of long-haul services to the south. Rehabilitation of tracks and stations has commenced.

After nearly 20 years, PNR reopened the Metro North Commuter line, and launched the Caloocan-Dela Rosa shuttle line, on August 1, 2018.[18][19] This would be followed by a steady expansion and reintroduction of rail services to the north, currently reaching to Malabon City, which has not seen rail activity for nearly 20 years. A plan to reactivate the Carmona line was bared as well,[20] and the revival of cargo rail from Port Area, Manila to Laguna is now being planned.[21][22]

On December 16, 2018, all commuter services saw changes in train runs[23] and establishments of new termini, particularly in the recently revived Metro North Commuter. More train runs were added for the north currently terminating at Governor Pascual.[24]

On November 16, 2018, PNR became a provisional member of International Union of Railways.[25]

On May 21, 2019, DMCI won the contract for the construction of PNR North 1.[26]

On June 14, 2019, PNR became ISO-certified (ISO 9001:2015) for railway repair, rehabilitation, restoration and maintenance, train control and rolling stock maintenance, station operation and other related services. The certification was announced October 2, 2019.[27]

Operations and services

The PNR currently operates in Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur (Naga City) and Albay. In the past, the PNR also used to serve the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and La Union on the North Main Line, and Batangas, Cavite, Pagsanjan, Laguna, and Rizal on the South Main Line.

Summary of services

Service Terminus Status
Metro South Commuter (MSC) Tutuban Alabang Operational
Tutuban Mamatid Operational
Tutuban Calamba Operational
Tutuban IRRI (UP Los Baños) Operational
Metro North Commuter (MNC) Tutuban Governor Pascual Operational
Tutuban Valenzuela Planned
Shuttle Service (SS) Governor Pascual FTI Operational
Valenzuela FTI Planned
Dela Rosa Carmona Planned
Tutuban Sucat Discontinued
Santa Mesa Sucat Discontinued
Alabang Calamba Planned
Premiere Train Tutuban Mamatid Discontinued
Bicol Commuter (BCT) Tagkawayan Naga Suspended
Sipocot Naga Operational
Naga Legazpi Operational
Bicol Express (BEx) Tutuban Naga Suspended
Tutuban Ligao Suspended
Mayon Limited Deluxe (MLD) Tutuban Ligao Discontinued; replaced by ILE
Mayon Limited Ordinary (MLO) Tutuban Ligao Discontinued; replaced by ILE
Isarog Limited Express (ILE) Tutuban Naga Suspended

Metro Commuter Line

Metro North Commuter

The reactivated Metro North Commuter ran initially from Caloocan to Makati and uses a single special fare matrix of PHP 12.00 for ordinary, and PHP 15.00 for air-conditioned. This was later extended to reach FTI in Taguig, now with a distance-based fare matrix. A Caloocan-Tutuban shuttle service also exists, using the original right-of-way once used for the Dagupan line. Originally terminating at 10th Avenue station while the historical Caloocan station was still being prepared for activation,[28] the station now terminates at its originally intended station since September 10.

DOTr and PNR are also working on reviving and reactivating rail services in areas prepared for NorthRail, such as Malabon and possibly Valenzuela. First proposed and planned last September 2018,[29] the extension to Gov. Pascual Avenue and the re-establishment of the Governor Pascual Station (formerly called Acacia Station) in Malabon has been done, with new rail ties and narrow gauge rail tracks being restored.[30] It reopened to the public on December 3, 2018.

Another extension, this time targeting Valenzuela City (likely Polo area) has been bared in August 14, 2019, and will require rebuilding a railroad bridge crossing Tullahan river that has been previously destroyed.[31]

The line is provisional and services will be potentially interrupted when the elevated tracks are to be constructed, likely after the construction of NLEX Segment 10.1. The reconstructed lines are targeted for freight use as well.

Metro South Commuter

The Metro Commuter (also known by then-remaining active service MSC or Metro South Commuter),[32] which was formerly called Commuter Express (also Commex), serves as the commuter rail service for the Manila metropolitan area, extending as far south as Calamba City, Laguna. The PNR uses GE locomotives such as 900 Class, 2500 Class, and 5000 Class hauling Commex passenger cars as well as newly procured 18 (3 car trains, 6 sets) Hyundai Rotem DMUs and KiHa 52 for this service. 203 series EMUs are now also used for Metro Commuter runs. MSC service using the new DMUs, KiHa 52, KiHa 350 and 203 series EMUs is currently offered between Tutuban and Alabang in Muntinlupa City. Currently, MSC makes 42 return services, 21 in each direction.[33]

Shuttle Service

The Shuttle Service is a commuter rail service initially introduced on January 27, 2014. This service used Hyundai Rotem DMUs and JR KiHa 52. There were 2 routes of the Shuttle Service, where trains stop at all stations along the routes: TutubanSucat and Santa MesaSucat. This train service ended May 23, 2014 to conduct maintenance on the rolling stocks and due to the consecutive three weeks of delays and cancellations of this train service.

Formerly, plans for a third route plying AlabangCalamba was to be introduced sometime in 2017. This service would use the reliveried two-car KiHa 350; This did not push through in 2018. However, with the commissioning of the new DOST Hybrid Train in 2019, this route is now under test run, currently free of charge, but with limited schedules.[34]

In 2018, a new shuttle line was introduced with the 10th Avenue - Dela Rosa route beginning August 1, as part of the renovation of the line and the return of train services to Caloocan City. The revived train service had its first extension towards Sangandaan, the original Caloocan station since September 10, extending through FTI.[35] The latest so far is the northwards extension to Governor Pascual (formerly called Acacia) in Malabon City since December 3, 2018.[36]

A new shuttle line leading to the once-abandoned Carmona branch line is planned for reopening in 2019, and will originate from the Dela Rosa station in Makati City.[37]

Premiere Train

The Premiere Train service is a commuter rail service introduced on March 3, 2014 and uses JR KiHa 59 "Kogane" trainset. The Premiere Train originates from Tutuban Terminal and stops at Blumentritt, España, Santa Mesa, Buendia, EDSA, Sucat, Alabang, San Pedro, Biñan and Santa Rosa stations. Fares cost ₱60.00 to ₱ 90.00

This train service was supposed to be removed on May 23, 2014 because they will use modified 203 series EMUs that will stop at all stations between Tutuban Terminal and Santa Rosa Station to accommodate more passengers. It was replaced by the 203 series on June 25, 2014.

Bicol Commuter

The Bicol Commuter service is a commuter rail service in the Bicol Region, between stations in Tagkawayan, Quezon, and Legazpi, Albay, with Naga City in Camarines Sur acting as a central terminal. The service was launched on September 16, 2009, in time for the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City.[11] The trains made seven trips a day, alternating between Tagkawayan, Sipocot, Naga City and Legazpi. All services used KiHa 52 in revised blue livery.

After further reductions, only the service between Naga and Sipocot was operating as of December 2013.[3] Service resumed between Naga and Legazpi in October 2015 with one train a day.[4]

Definitive plans to restore the entire route from Sipocot, Naga and Legazpi were bared with an inspection trip from Tutuban on September 20 with a rerailment crew, including certain areas of Quezon Province, in preparation of the restoration of more routes previously suspended.[38]

Bicol Express

The PNR has been working for some years on restoring this intercity service without success. Since September 2013, operations to the Bicol Region have been suspended.[39] This is primarily because of typhoon damage to bridges. The PNR hoped to reopen the Bicol Express Service by about September 2014.[40] Due to the damages brought by the Typhoon Rammasun, known in the Philippines as Bagyong Glenda, it was announced that the Bicol Express' resumption of services would be further delayed until October and November 2014. Since then resumption of service has been repeatedly announced and then cancelled, most recently in late 2016.[41] This was mostly because of the remoteness of the areas and the necessity of more extensive railway repairs, which has rendered the railways towards Tutuban and back impassable until very recently.[38]

The trip designator is Train T-611 for the southbound (MA-NG) and Train T-612 for the northbound (NG-MA).

Bicol Express started operations between Manila and Aloneros around 1919, with a separate train between Pamplona and Tabaco and between Port Ragay and Legazpi since 1933. The first Bicol Express from Manila to Legazpi ran on January 31, 1938.

Mayon Limited

In March 2012, another train service, the resurrected Mayon Limited, ran between Tutuban and Ligao. The train ran as Mayon DeLuxe on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Tutuban as train T-713 with three air-conditioned carriages with reclining seats. The train returned on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday as train T-714 from Ligao. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays the train ran as Ordinary train (T-815) with non-reclining seats and cooling by fan. The departure as train T-816 was every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The train did not run on Saturdays.[42] The trains meet at Gumaca.[43] As of September 2013, all operations to the Bicol Region, including the Mayon Limited, have been suspended.[39]

The original Mayon Limited service decades ago was hauled alternatively by French Alstom locomotives Series 1500 (which had engineer operator cabs at both ends and therefore did not require being turned around at neither wyes nor turntables at the end of their trips), and General Electric locomotives, especially the U12C Series 1000, UM12C Series 2000, and U14/15C Series 900 and ran northward from Legazpi up the steep gradient leading to Camalig in the foothills of the Mayon Volcano with another locomotive pushing from the rear. The service was assigned as (Train T-577) and was considered then as the fastest and the most modern train of the Philippine National Railways operating on the South Main Line.

Defunct services

Intercity services

Although the Southern Luzon Intercity Services has occasionally operated in recent years, some of its branches are defunct such as the Batangas City Intercity railways. Efforts are underway to restore both services. Northern line intercity that once serviced by Amianan Express and the Dagupan Express has permanently ceased operation, due to neglect and the destruction of the Meycauayan railroad bridge sometime in the '90s as a result of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

Lucena Express

The Lucena Express was first operated between Malvar and Aloneros, Guinayangan, and later between Manila and Lucena, stopping at Blumentritt (San Lazaro), Santa Mesa, Paco, San Pedro, Biñan, Santa Rosa, Calamba, Los Baños, College, Masaya, San Pablo, Tiaong, Taguan, Candelaria, Lutucan and Sariaya stations.

Prestige and Peñafrancia Express

The old Prestige service used Japanese-built, self-propelled coaches and was the only train not to be hauled by General Electric locomotives. It was frequently the first of the three express trains to arrive. With priority over all other trains on its route, and stopping only at Daraga, Ligao, Naga, Lucena, and Paco. It normally arrived at the Tutuban railway station, Manila's central, making it a popular service with businessmen. The 48-seater air-conditioned coaches of the Prestige were somewhat narrower and lower than those built in Madras, which also contributed to the faster run.

During the management of Pete Nicomedes Prado (1986-1991) as GM, the PNR inaugurated the Penafrancia Express between Manila and Naga City. Train formations consisted of a GE Series 900 locomotive hauling a baggage car and several passenger coaches, both aircon and economy. The airconditioned coaches had sleepers, de luxe coaches, and dining lounge coaches. Also used on Penafrancia Express trains were self-propelled commuter motor coaches from Japan, also using aircon as well as nonaircon coaches. Initially they were non-stop between Paco Station in Manila and Naga City, save for when the Penafrancia Express trains headed in opposite directions had to cross each other along the route in Quezon province. Later on, additional stops were added, mostly in the Bicol province of Camarines Sur with the train stopping in towns like Ragay, Sipocot, and Libmanan.

The Penafrancia Express trains also had airline style features, like piped in music, snacks, caterers, and stewardesses.

Express services

The PNR also operated several express services. Some of these services were discontinued for financial reasons. The first express service for Luzon was the Baguio Express, which operated from Manila via Dagupan and San Fabian, Pangasinan to Camp One on Kennon Road, where the motor vehicles, namely the Stanley and De Dion steamers, of the Benguet Auto Line transported passengers proceeding to Baguio. Overnight services were provided by the Baguio Night Express with Baguio Friday Night during Fridays and Baguio Night Special during special seasons. Another express service was the Ilocos Express, which had been operating since March 15, 1930 until the closure of the line in the late 1980s. The services includes a dining car with catering provided by the Manila Hotel. Another variant of the service was the Baguio-Ilocos Express. Following the modernization program of the Manila Railway Company in 1955, the Ilocos Express featured a 7A class "De Luxe" coach until 1979, when the lack of operable air-conditioned coaches caused a switch to a "Tourist"-class coach. The company also operated the Paniqui Express in the 1930s, but that was eclipsed by the Ilocos Express.

The fastest train operated by the PNR on the North Main Line was the Ilocos Special (Train 26), started in 1973, this diesel multiple-unit (DMU) train took four hours to run the 195 kilometres between Manila and Dagupan City. The PNR also introduced the Amianan Day Express (Train 74) in February 1974 and the Amianan Night Express (Train 72), the last train to depart Manila for any destination on both lines. The Amianan Night Express ran faster than its day counterpart, the Amianan Day Express, making the 260-kilometre run to San Fernando City, La Union in five hours.

Non-passenger services

The PNR used to offer freight services, using General Electric U15C 900-series locomotives bought by the company in 1974. It is currently planned for a revival leading to the Manila North Harbor.[21][22]

There was also a limited mobile hospital service.


The Philippine National Railways operates two different rail lines, namely the North Main Line (recently revived) and the South Main Line. Formerly, there were three spur lines, which served various parts of Luzon with its 138 (once) active stations.

Station layout

All PNR stations were and are presently at-grade, with most stations using a side platform layout. Most have only basic amenities, platforms and ticket booths. Rehabilitated stations along the Metro Manila line have been fitted with ramps for passengers using wheelchairs. Several stations have extended platforms, having an upper platform catering to DMU services, and a lower platform for regular locomotive-hauled services.

As of August 2017, most of the stations are being extended and equipped with platform-length roofing, better ticketing office, and restrooms.

Future railway systems under the PNR, such as that of the new North–South Commuter Railway line, proposes elevated stations and platforms similar to the Manila LRT and MRT lines in select sections.


Plans to rehabilitate and expand the railway network have been made by various administrations. South Korea and the People's Republic of China have offered to help rehabilitate the Philippine railway system, the former assisting with the rehabilitation and modernization of the South Main Line[9] and the latter helping to finance, build, and operate a rationalized North Main Line service as well as helping to rehabilitate and modernize the South Main Line.

North–South Commuter Railway Project

The North–South Commuter Railway or NSCR, also known as the Clark-Calamba Railway, is a 147 kilometer elevated railway from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna, with a total of 36 stations.[44][45]

The NSCR will form one railway system serving commuters travelling to, from, and within Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.

Construction on the Tutuban-Malolos segment or PNR North 1 commenced on February 15, 2019.[46]

PNR East West Line (Line 8)

The PNR East West Line, also known as MRT Line 8, is a proposed rapid transit line in Metro Manila in the Philippines, generally running in an east-west direction along the Radial Road 7 and a portion of the Radial Road 8.

The line serves 11 stations on 9.4 kilometers (5.8 mi) of line. The rails are mostly elevated and erected either over or along the roads covered, with sections below ground. The western terminus of the line is the Quiapo station infont of Quiapo Church, while the eastern terminus of the line is the Diliman station along Commonwealth Avenue in Barangay Old Capitol Site, Quezon City. The rail line serves the cities that Radial Road 7 (Commonwealth Avenue, Elliptical Road, Quezon Avenue, España Boulevard and Quezon Boulevard) passes through: Manila and Quezon City.[47]

As part of the infrastructure program by president Rodrigo Duterte, East-West Rail was proposed by the East-West Rail Transit Corp., a consortium between A. Brown Company Inc. and Private Equity Investment and Development Corp. It involves the financing, design, construction, and maintenance of a mostly-elevated 9.4-kilometer railway line from Diliman in Quezon City to Quiapo in Manila.[48]

The project is currently awaiting approval from NEDA to proceed. It is also currently tackling right-of-way issues, such as that of the España Boulevard alignment.

Freight revival

Within February 2016, the PNR's planned freight comeback will start with a planned signing of a memorandum of agreement between the railway and rail freight operator MRAIL (a Meralco subsidiary firm) for the rehabilitation of the rail lines to North Harbor and to restart the freight services starting 2017, which will also help reduce traffic congestion and truck use in the NCR.[49] If completed, MRail will jointly operate the freight service with the PNR, which will end a long absence of railway freight services in the country. This will be the second time the PNR will partner with ICTSI.[50] A statement made by MRail Inc., a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., said that discussions regarding PNR freight service revival from Port of Manila to the Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal resulted in the appointment of a new board at the Philippine National Railways.[51] Representatives of PNR and ICTSI conducted an inspection of the ROW where the former railtracks leading to the North Harbor existed, signalling the start of the action to realize the cargo rail revival.[21]

PNR South Long Haul Project & Calamba-Batangas City Railway

Along with the reconstruction of the Metro South Commuter Line, the railway line to Bicol (to Legazpi and Matnog) will be reconstructed, and the revival of the line from Calamba to Batangas City. The National Economic and Development Authority approved the projects in September 2017, but, no clear timeline of construction has been set. The construction of the Manila-Bicol and Calamba-Batangas City lines will be funded by the government of China, and those lines will feature new standard-gauge lines, to be initially operating as single-track lines and eventually, become double-track lines.[52]

Mindanao Railway

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his support for the establishment of a railway system in the entire island of Mindanao which could be in operation after his term ends. The railway system to be built in Mindanao will have about 2,000 kilometers of track, and considered one of Rodrigo Duterte's primary infrastructure projects. The first phase, which is 105 km, would start construction in the third quarter of 2018 and was expected to be completed by 2022.[53]

Rolling stock

PNR has operated several types of locomotives, carriages and multiple units as part of its fleet. As of 2019, the rolling stock used are primarily powered by diesel. The DOST Hybrid Electric Train may also function as a battery electric multiple unit although it is started by a diesel engine. All present rolling stock are in 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in). PNR also has rail mounted cranes as supporting equipment with varying capacities from 0.5 to 30 metric tons.

In late 2019, all trains in service except the 203 series-derived coaches underwent refurbishment and livery changes. The multiple units were given an orange and white color scheme and its windows were changed from having steel grills to polycarbonate windows that can resist stoning from illegal settlers while the locomotives have been painted orange.[54]


During the first years of its operation as the Manila-Dagupan Railway, it operated primarily tank engines contrary to its Panay Railways (once known as the Philippine Railway Company) counterparts which had tenders. During the 1950s, the locomotives transitioned to using diesel engines with an order of 20 GE UM12Cs.[55] These were replaced by a large order of GE Universal Series locomotives in the 1960s and the 1970s, with some of these units are still in service as of 2019.[56] By 2020, the PNR will receive three CC300 series diesel-hydraulic locomotives, its first since the departure of its GE U20C locomotive in 2007.[57]

Class Image Manufacturer Year Built Units Built Numbers Type Status
0-4-4 c. 1885 N/A 17 Steam Decommissioned, Unit 17 preserved in Dagupan[56]
0-6-0 c. 1880s-1890s N/A 188 Steam Decommissioned, Unit 188 preserved in Tutuban station[56]
900 GE Transportation 1973-91 21 901-922 Diesel-electric In service[56]
1000 GE Transportation 1956 10 1001-1010 Diesel-electric Decomissioned
1500 Alsthom 1966-1967 10 1501-1510 Diesel-electric
(Converted from Electric)
2000 GE Transportation 1956 20 2001-2020 Diesel-electric
Road switcher
2500 GE Transportation 1965-79 43 2501-2543 Diesel-electric switcher In service[56]
3000 (50-ton) GE Transportation 1955 10 3001-3010 Diesel switcher Decommissioned
3000 (U6B) GE Transportation 1960 10 3001-3010 Diesel-electric Rebuilt in 1992, In service
5000 GE Transportation 1992 (rebuilt from 3000 Class) 10 5001-5010 Diesel-electric In service[56]
GE Lokindo
1998 1 9801
ICTSI-1 (ICTSI Service)
Diesel-electric Operated with ICTSI
Decommissioned, exported to Australia
CC300 (id) PT INKA 2020 3 N/A Diesel-hydraulic Being built[57]


PNR trains were traditionally consisted of locomotive-hauled coaches with some being refurbished from commuter rail to intercity use to accommodate the Bicol Express. However since the early 2010s, the government has put several diesel multiple units into service which were either second-hand Japanese trainsets or the Hyundai Rotem EMU that was new at the time. Currently, the only locomotive-hauled railcar type in service are the 203 series-derived coaches which were EMUs stripped of motive power components which they have used during their Japanese service. By 2020, it is expected that a batch of 19 coaches will arrive from Indonesia.[57]

Class Image Manufacturer Year Built Units Built Status
7A (12 ja) Niigata Engineering
Fuji Heavy Industries
Nippon Sharyo
1969-78 (acquired 1999) N/A Decommissioned
14 (ja) Niigata Engineering
Fuji Heavy Industries
Nippon Sharyo
1971 (acquired 1999) N/A Decommissioned
Sleeper coaches Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Fuji Heavy Industries
1966-1979 (acquired 2011) N/A On storage[58]
203 series-derived coaches Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Kinki Sharyo
Tokyu Car Corporation
1982 (acquired 2011) 29 (5 trains) In service[58]
INKA coaches PT INKA 2020 19 Being built[57]

Multiple Units

Since 2009, PNR has acquired several multiple units that were either given second-hand from Japan, or brand new from other countries. This began with the purchase of then brand-new Hyundai Rotem DMUs.[59] This order was followed by several orders of mostly second-hand rolling stock from Japan. In 2018, PNR signed a deal with Indonesian rolling stock manufacturer Industri Kereta Api (PT INKA) for purchase of another six sets of multiple units. By entering service in 2019, these were officially named the 8000 Class.[57] The Department of Science and Technology also helped in building additional stock through the Hybrid Electric Train (HET). This is the first domestically-built trainset in the country.[60] It was officially turned over to PNR on June 20, 2019.[61]

In 2019, with the realization of the North–South Commuter Railway project that has been on hold, PNR shall purchase thirteen of its first electric trains from Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC) which are standard gauge versions of the E233 series EMUs and shall begin operations by 2021.[62] The project will be the first part of the system-wide modernization of PNR from narrow gauge and diesel power to standard gauge and electric power that shall happen in the long term.

Multiple Units
Class Image Type Gauge Manufacturer Year Built Units Built Status
KiHa 52 DMU 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) JNR 1957-66 (acquired 2011) 6 (3 per train) In service
KiHa 350 DMU 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Fuji Heavy Industries 1961-66 (acquired 2011) 6 (2 per train) In service
KiHa 59 DMU 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) JNR 1967-68 (acquired 2011) 3 (3 per train) In service[57]
Hyundai Rotem DMU DMU 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Hyundai Rotem 2009-10 18 (3 per train) In service[59]
DOST HET (3000 Class) Hybrid DMU/BEMU 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) DOST–MIRDC
Fil-Asia Automotive
2019-20 5 (5 per train) In service[63][64]
8000 DMU 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) PT INKA 2019-20 18 (3 per train) In service[57]
E233-type NSCR EMUs EMU 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) J-TREC 2021 104 (8 per train) On order[62]

See also


^ Inter-city and freight services have been suspended since 2016. The North–South Commuter Railway will be the first intercity service since the discontinuation of the Bicol Express in 2016. Construction of the line commenced in 2019. There are also plans to revitalize to freight service. See Freight revival for more information.


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Further reading

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