Father used to tell me stories of his experience in riding the PNR train from his hometown in Bicol to Manila. In those stories, he fondly called the train as “Bicol Express” because it is the fastest mode of transport to Metro Manila from Bicol during his time. He told me that riding the train was so convenient that there were beds made available for sleepy passengers.
Sadly, like other pre-Cory infrastructure, the rail system of the Philippine National Railway (PNR) suffered a decay to which it couldn’t get out of. The PNR of today only serves trips from Tutuban to Alabang. The PNR rail in Laguna, Quezon, in Bicol are now used by railroad kariton or occupied by squatters.
I finally had the chance to ride the PNR train when I had an appointment in Kalentong (Mandaluyong). I decided to take the PNR train from Buendia to Paco Station just for the experience.
I paid 10 pesos for a train ride to Paco Station. It’s quite cheap. Very much like riding a jeepney.
I guess PNR’s recent request for a fare hike is justified. They need more funds to improve the train system. Let’s just hope that the additional fare will truly improve PNR trains and don’t become like the MRT where the service is terrible.
There were few people in PNR-Buendia that time. I guess because it was not rush hour.
The PNR trains arrive in 30 minute interval. Thus I had to wait for a long time for the train. There is no bench or chair on the platform so I just sat on the floor like the others.
To keep the memory of my first ride to PNR train, I made sure to take a video of it.
Unlike the LRT and MRT trains that run on electricity, the PNR trains run on diesel or other fossil fuel. Another difference is that PNR trains have a sort of chicken wire or grill at the windows to protect the train and passengers from the projectiles. People living in homes along the riles are notorious for throwing refuse and even human excrement at PNR trains. This is disgusting but PNR had difficulties in stopping this practice.
|PNR rail near the Paco Station.|
So how was my first PNR train ride? It is not that thrilling. PNR train is crowded like the MRT and LRT. The trip lasted for a few minutes and I reached Paco quickly.
The railway is the most efficient system in delivering people and goods between provinces. Sadly, the government couldn’t see that fact and continue to ignore the overhaul of the PNR. How I wish that the Bicol Express of old and the train system to the North be restored. How I wish that I will be able to have train ride with Little Ahab to Bicolandia.
Oh well, hindi naman masama ang mangarap.