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The Philippine Railway System

Preprint · March 2015

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.32407.06563


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2 authors, including:

Glenn Orbon
University of the Philippines


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The Philippine Railway System
Joana Lisa R. Dungca and Glenn T. Orbon

Arch 236: Movement Systems

Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
Master of Architecture
The Philippine Railway System Page 1



Accessibility 11
HISTORY 3 Inefficiency 11
Spanish Regime 3 Poor Operations and Maintenance 12
Horse Drawn Street Cars 3 Speed 12
Steam-Powered Trains 4 Safety and Security 12
American Regime 6 Affordability of Advanced Systems 13
Electricity-Powered Tranvia 7 Sense of Heritage 13
Japanese Regime 8
Policy and Governance 13
Destruction of Railways 8
The Philippine Republic 8
Moves for Restoration 9
Literally Raised at a Higher Level 9 Upgrading, Rehabilitation and Extension Projects 16
Rail-based Transport System 10 Future Rail Lines 17



Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 2


Railway Line
PNR Northline (Manila to San Fernando) Closed 266
PNR Southline (Manila-Legazpi) Partially Closed 479
LRT Line 1 (North Avenue to Baclaran) 26.85
LRT Line 2 (Recto to Santolan) 13.8
MRT Line 3 (North Avenue to Taft Avenue) 16.8
Panay Railways (Iloilo City to Roxas City) Closed 117
Cebu Railways (Danao to Argao) - Closed 92
Negros Railways no record

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 3


Spanish Regime
Horse Drawn Streetcars
Railway in the Philippines started in 1878, when Leon Monssour, the official of the Department of Public Works of Spain,
submitted a proposal to Madrid for the Manila streetcar system. Inspired by the same systems in New York and Paris, the
proposal envisioned a five-line network with a central station outside the walls of Intramuros. From Plaza San Gabriel in
Binondo, the lines were to run to Intramuros via the Puerte de Espania (present day Jones Bridge), to Malate Church,
Malacañang Palace, and Sampaloc and Tondo. Though favored by the Spanish Government, the project had to wait for an
Horse-drawn tranvias along the streets of Escolta, Manila
(Photo is Property of Special Collections, University of In 1882, the entreprenuer Jocobo Zobel de Zangroniz, together with Spanish engineer Luciano M. Bremon and Madrid banker
Washington Libraries). Adolfo Bayo, formed the La Compaña de Tranvias de Filipinas, which operated the concession awarded by the government.
However, the Malacañang Line was not built but was instead replaced by the Malabon Commuter Line. Thus, the first four
routes that ran around the city of Manila are as follows:

Length of line
Name of Line Year completed Terminals
Tondo 2.5 1884 San Gabriel Plaza and Tondo Station
Sampaloc 2.8 1887 San Gabriel Plaza and Sampaloc Station
Intramuros 2.0 1888 Calle Nueva (Binondo) and Intramuros
Malate 3.9 1889 Calle Nueva (Binondo) and Malate.
Plan for the 1st and 2nd class carriages for a tramway Total 11.2
(Source: Gardner, 2004). Source: United States Bureau of Census, 1903.

Initially, these railway system used horse drawn carriages. The company owned 132 horses, of which an average of 125 was
used daily, and 34 cars, of which an average of 10 was used daily. Around 2,626,606 passengers were carried per year. When
the Americans came in the 1898, they deemed the system unsatisfactory, but it was useful to the Filipinos.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 4

Escolta, Main Buisness Center of Manila with its horse-

drawn tranvias.

Plan of Manila with the general layout of the different tramways as envisioned by Leon Monssour. 1878-1879. The plan
included a main station at San Gabriel and the crossing of the river via the "Puente de España" (Source: Gardner, 2004).

Steam Powered Trains

The 1890's witnessed the promotion of studies and projects for new railway lines on Luzon and on other islands in the
archipelago, including that of a railway line in Mindanao going to Iligan City.

The General plan for railways on the island of Luzon, planned by Eduardo Lopez Navarro in 1876 (See photo to the left),
which contemplated the construction of the lines considered of the lines considered to be most essential. Among these were
the Manila – Dagupan (North) line, and the Manila – Taal (South) line, which were classified as being the first to be built, and
as soon as possible (Gardner, 2004). These areas where the extents of the railway reach are the fertile agricultural lands, so
more than commuters, the trains would bring in goods from the provinces into the Port of Manila.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 5

Plans for the railway going to Iligan City (Gardner, 2004).

By 1902, two steam railroads were in operation in the Philippines, both in the island of Luzon. One of these is operated by the
Compaña de las Tranvias de Filipinas that runs from Tondo, Manila to the town of Tambobong, or Malabon, in the province
of Rizal, at a distance of 7 kilometers. This steam line replaced the supposed tranvia line that was supposed to connect
Intramuros to the Malacañang Palace. Malabon’s transfer points were Tondo, Maypajo, a working-class neighborhood in the
Steam-powered tranvia that served Malabon and Tondo
suburb of Caloocan and Dulu, at the north end of that community.
from 1888 to 1898. Service originated from Tondo at 5:30
a.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m., while trips from Malabon
were from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., every hour on the The Manila-Tambobong track was confined exclusively to passenger traffic.
hour in the mornings and every half hour beginning 1:30 It has 4 locomotives, each with 10 passenger cars and 1 baggage car, none
p.m in the afternoons if there were many passengers. of which are first class. This route carried 562,089 passengers in 1902, with
Photo taken in 1883. (Source: Minuesa, R., 2011 via a 39% gross income. The valuation for the whole project, inclusive of
flickr.com) locomotives, cars, stations and grounds, roadbed, and bridges is quite low,
which is shown by the low grade and poor condition of construction and

The other steam line runs from Manila to Dagupan (Ferrocaril de Manila-
Dagupan), in the province of Pangasinan, for a distance of 196 kilometers,
and is operated by the Manila and Dagupan Railway Company, Limited or
the Manila Railroad Company, now Philippine National Railways (Source:
Gardner, 2004).

The Manila-Dagupan Line were highly important and patronized. Its

construction commenced in 1888 and completed in 1894. It reached a
distance of 1140 kilometers of operational line.

Source: Philippine Railways, 2014

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 6

Bridge over the great Pampanga River, on the Manila

- Dagupan line (Revista de Obras Públicas. 1898). Tutuban Station on the Manila – Dagupan Railway Line (Revista de Obras Públicas. 1898), had a distinct Hispano-
Despite the difficulties involved in its construction resulting Philippine style, was considered one of the greatest works in the railway system. It was built from masonry, faced with
from problems in laying the foundations, this bridge with brickwork at ground level, the upper storey being made of wood. It had galvanized iron roofing and an overhanging
its lattice-work beams was one of the major achievements verandah, made from the same material, surrounded the building at first-floor level (Source: Gardner, 2004). This was
of Spanish engineering in the Philippines (Source: considered as the central station of the Philippine Railway Lines.
Gardner, 2004).
The railway system has 29 stations along its route, which had substantial buildings for the convenience of their patrons.

Due to long communication line between Madrid and Manila, the development in the Philippines lagged behind with the wave
of the Industrial Revolution and Mercantilism, thus, not much improvements on the railway system was implemented. La
Compaña stopped expanding or improving its system, with just an average of 10 streetcars per line per day, compared with
their previous hourly service with 14 runs in each direction on the Malabon Line along. Until, the Americans came and governed
over the Philippines in 1898.

American Regime
During the Philippine-American War in the 1900s, the train stations served as bases to be won and the railways are the battle
The station at Caloocan, on the Manila to Dagupan grounds. The Manila-Dagupan Line was the axis of the war that advanced in Luzon (Corpuz, 2013).
railroad, which was captured by the Americans on
February 10, 1899. (Source: Dumindin, Arnaldo, 2006 at A line between Manila and Antipolo commenced in 1903, and should be finished in 3 years. The 35-kilometer line shall have
philippineamericanwar.webs.com) stations at Sampaloc, Santa Mesa, San Felipe Nery, San Juan Del Monte, Marikina, Cainta and Taytay; and four bridges
across the rivers of San Juan, Marikina, Cutcut and Cayticlin.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 7

Electricity-Powered Tranvia
By March 24, 1903, a 50-year franchise was awarded to the Manila Electric Railway and Light Company, a New
Jersey Company (now more commonly known as Meralco), to supersede the entire railway system running around
Manila - taking over the properties of La Compaña de las Tranvias de Filipinas. The franchise included to provision
of 12 lines around Manila. In the same year, Baguio was declared as the summer capital of the Philippines, thus,
plans were being centered on providing an electric railway line between Nagui
lian to Baguio under the directions of Major Kennon.

Eventually, the electric tramway started in 1905 with 65 kilometers span of railway traversing around the City of Manila. The
system used an overhead trolley system using direct current from 500 to 550 volts.
An old photo of an open-sided tranvia or tramvia (electric In 1906, a 9.8-km extension was operational connecting Paco to Fort McKinley and Pasig. This line was one of the most
street tram) along Escolta, Manila. The tranvia service profitable in the system. In 1907, the Panay Line started its construction connecting Iloilo City and Roxas City. This was the
started in 1905 during the American era. It was operated first railway line that was built outside of Metro Manila. In 1911, the Cebu Line became operational alongside Panay Line.
by the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company (the
same Meralco we know today.) The tranvia operated until By 1913, Meralco has completed 9 out of 12 lines.
just before World War 2 (WWII) broke. (Source:
Philippine-history.org, 2014).

Aerial shot of Jones Bridge around 1920s. (Source:

Pixgood.com, 2015)
Electric Tranvia Lines that roamed around Manila in the early 1900s. Source: David, 2013
Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems
Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 8

The tranvia system served the commuters of the city for both commerce and cockfighting. Meralco’s lines crossed the Manila
Railroad Company’s lines (now Philippine National Railway or PNR) at three points: Blumentritt Station, Sta. Mesa, Sta. Ana
Tranvia-PNR Paco Station. The principal tranvia lines (Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Santa Ana) led directly to outlying cockpits
in suburban La Loma, San Juan and San Pedro de Macati, respectively. In 1925, the system already extended up to 85
kilometers around the Manila. By 1930, the road networks improved, together with the development of gasoline powered bus
services. Meralco continued the tranvia system but already stopped its expansion. Just like in other cities in many countries,
the emergence of automobiles led to the decline of railways.

Japanese Regime
Destruction of Railways
In 1942, the Manila-Dagupan Line was a witness of the tortures of Filipinos and American soldiers by the Japanese colonizers.
From Bataan, the death march ended in San Fernando, where the prisoners of war were compacted inside the “Death Trains”
bound to Capas, Tarlac.
The devastation brought by war pulverized the centuries-
During WWII, the service deteriorated due to poor maintenance and floods in 1943. In the Battle of Manila in 1945, the system
old Intramuros (Source: Nostalgia Filipinas, 2012). was totally destroyed, when Manila was considered as the second-most destroyed city, after Warsaw in Poland. The Cebu
Line’s bridges, tracks and Central Station were all struck by bombs with damage so extensive that the railway never recovered.

The Philippine Republic

During the rebuilt of the city, necessity and resourcefulness did not call for the tranvias and railways, which were put out of
business. Meralco concentrated on providing electricity to the city. Further deterioration in railway tracks and stations led to
these circumstances, and eventually, the PNR network has been reduced to 446 km consisting of part of the PNR north line
and south line.

Advancements in motorization also played a major role in the limited used of railways. The lots of army jeeps that was available
after the war were used in replace of the horse-drawn streetcars to serve as public transportation system in the large sections
of the Metropolis. That is why many of today’s jeepney routes in Manila, follow the old tranvia lines.

By the 1960s, the steam railway lines extended to San Fernando in La Union, San Jose in Nueva Ecija, the lakeshore towns
of Laguna, Bicol Cavite and Batangas. There were even ambitious plans to extend the routes up to the ends of Luzon in
Cagayan province and Sorsogon. However, these plans were scrapped by President Ferdinand Marcos in favor of the
Maharlika Highway (AH 26) system of national roads, again a move towards an automobile nation. The map on the left expose
the extent of our railway system during PNR’s glory days. Close-up of the branch lines in the Manila Area and surrounding
provinces. There were lines going to Antipolo and San Mateo in Rizal Provinces and to Cavite City. These were abandoned
because of low ridership (The Urban Historian, 2014).
Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems
Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 9

Moves for Restoration

Following the new belief that the growing metropolitan area can only be sustained by rail, at par with other advance cities, and
that urban transit is the business of the government, the government started on pursuing the rail transit system under the
governance Imelda Marcos who was the Governor of Metro Manila at the time.

A 1972 study, a system of expressway and railway network, to match that of Tokyo’s, was proposed in Manila. This included
a 135.1 kilometer of subway. In 1977, there was also a proposal to have a street-level tramcar system along Rizal and Taft
Avenue under the MMETROPLAN study. However, all these studies and proposals was not implemented.

Literally Raised at a Higher Level

A 1969 proposal plan of a monorail along Taft Avenue. It was in 1979, when the decision to build the LRT Line 1, a 15-kilometer fully-elevated railway line, was actually realized and
Photo above shows the Manila City Hall at right and the pushed through, since the public transport was already nearing its saturation point and still barely meets the commuter
Post Office and Intramuros at the left (Source: Correos demand. So in 1981, the LRT 1 line started its construction. The government-owned Construction Development Corporation
Filipinas, 2015). of the Philippines (now the Philippine National Construction Corp.) was the sole contractor for the project. The north-south
Monumento-Baclaran route was chosen because it is fairly straight for most of its length and both of its ends are bus terminals
that proceed to the North and South provinces, respectively. The high-rise department store and classroom building near Feati
University were torn down to give way to Carriedo Station and the tracks going to the Pasig River bridge, which was the last
section to be built. The north and south section of this bridge were connected in 1985. After 40 years, the tranvia came back
as the Metrorail system now controlled by the Light Rail Transit Authority.

Line 1 currently intersects with Line 3 at EDSA and again with Line 3 (Phase 2) at Monumento. The line intersects with PNR
near Blumentritt.

With the success of LRT 1, the Metrorail Network Study proposed three new metrorail lines 2, 3 and 4 in 1985, all of which
connects Metro Manila to the provinces at its peripheries.

Due to the inability to cope with the demand competition with automobile transport, the Manila-Dagupan Line of the PNR was
totally shut down in 1988. This was due to the maintenance issues with the cars and railways, which limits the efficiency and
LRT Line 1 Opening day of Carriedo Station, when new comfort that it offers to commuters.
roof-ventilated Light Rail No 1048 awaiting departure from
By 1990, the LRT was showing premature aging due mostly to poor maintenance and overloading. In 1998, massive
Baclaran station (Source: lindsaybridge on flickr, 1985).
rehabilitation, track improvement, and expansion of stations were made, including provision of the second generation cars
which have air conditioning system. The Panay Line was eventually close altogether, passenger operations in 1985 and freight
operations in 1989.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 10

In 1996, LRT Line 3 took advantage of the undulating ground surface of EDSA, running high above or low under the ground,
avoiding fly-overs and other obstacles. The first phase runs 17.8 kilometers with 12 stations. Line 3 was constructed by the
private company, Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC). In this BLT (build-lease-transfer) project, the railway facilities will be
leased to DOTC for 25 years following construction, and they will then be transferred to DOTC (Tiglao, 2007).

In 1997, LRT Line 2 started with the Katipunan Station, which is the only underground stop. The line expanded a distance of
13.8 kilometers with 11 stations, run east to west following Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard,
Legarda Street and Claro M. Recto Street. A footbridge along the Araneta Center, Cubao, was constructed in March 2005,
linking LRT Line 2 and MRT Line 3.

Rail-Based Transport System

In 2010, the 23 kilometer span of EDSA has a train service, with completion of the 5.4-km North Loop. However, the interface
MRT 3 North and southbound trains of the Metro Rail to connect LRT Line 1 and LRT Line 3 to work as one single loop is still unfinished.
Transit 3 travel along Edsa near Boni Avenue. (Source:
Bacasmas, Edwin. 2015) In 2012, Manila has a 50-km urban rail line which accommodates less than 10% of the daily trips in Manila. There are currently
3 light railways in Metro Manila that operates within the metropolis namely LRT1, LRT2 and MRT3 (Tiglao, et al, 2007). The
Philippine National Railway Commuter Line (PNR), on the other hand, has a 422-km south line to Bicol, with 2 trips/day
between Manila and Naga (Santiago, 2012) which operates in an inter-provincial route (Tiglao, et al, 2007).

Trains' Intersection of Blue Line (MRT 3) and Purple Line

(LRT 2) (Source: lindsaybridge at flickr. 2009). Source: Robert Schwandl (UrbanRail.Net), 2007.

The PNR Southline on the other hand is open for servces between Tutuban, Manila and Legaspii City, Albay, with around
442 railroad crossings to watch out for.

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The Railways of Metro Manila

(Source: Johomaps, 2006)

The Railways of Metro Manila show on a wider view,

where the Orange (PNR) line extends up to Alabang,
Parañaque, though in reality it extends down to Legazpi
City, Albay (Source: Philippinerailways, 2011).

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

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The Philippine Railway System Page 12

1. Accessibility

Though, some have provisions, the stations and cars of the railway system in the Philippines are not properly equipped
to be accessible to walks of life, especially for people with disabilities. Ramps and elevators are not adequately provided
to provide easier access. Floor guides for the blind and colorblind are provided in LRT Line 2 Stations only, which is the
most recent addition to the system.

2. Inefficiency

(Source: Public-Private Partnership Center of the According to the Asian Green City Index (AGCI) released in 2011, Manila ranks below average in providing superior
Philippines 2011) public transport network via trams, light rail, subway and/or Bus Rail Transit (BRT) system. This is due to reasons such
as: Metro Manila only has 0.05 kilometer of railway (data acquired in 2007) for every square kilometer of the its area (the
average is 0.17 km/km2), thus, jeepneys are still the number one mode of transportation used in the city; and an integrated
pricing system for mass transits are partially implemented. Based on the table from the AGCI, shown below, Manila is at
par with its fellow developing cities such as Bangkok, Thailand; Bengaluru and Mumbai, India; and Hanoi, Vietnam.

Though the data shown above was acquired in 2007, we only rose to 0.07 km/km2 of mass transit system to date, and
traffic congestion is still a great problem.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
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3. Poor Operation and Maintenance

This has been an issue since history, which could mean that this practice would really be a major step in being able to
put into realization and actualization. PNR’s cars and tracks were mostly dilapidated before it was replaced with new cars
in 2009. The railway stations, of all railways, are starting to deteriorate due to lack of funding for operations and
maintenance. Not enough toilet facilities are provided in stations, and if there are any that is provided, expect the worst
because more often than not, they are clogged or do not have a water supply available. Comfort for commuters is one of
the necessities that should be maintained by the railway system.

4. Speed

History tells that since it was faster to travel along highways, the slower commuter trains began to loose with the
competition and eventually closed down. The MRT Line 3 currently runs at 40 kph from its usual 60-65 kph, due to the
series of accidents that have occurred in the system in the past years, making it much slower than the speed limit for
automobiles along EDSA, at 60kph. During non-peak hours, it is noticeable that it is much faster to travel on private cars
compared with the mass transit system. It just so happen that traffic in Metro Manila is so severe, thus people would
rather ride on the more reliable option, which is the MRT.

The PNR runs at 40-90 km/h for Metro services and 80-120 km/h for Provincial services. Train ride between Manila and
Naga would take around 10 hours of travel at ideal situations. During heavy rains, the tracks get muddy and trains would
either have to slow down or stop until the tracks are re-aligned if they get dislodged.

5. Safety and Security

Safety and security is a main issue especially for the PNR lines which are on-grade. Since, the line is on-ground, there
are more encounters with road networks and people. According to PNR, there are 42 railroad crossings between Tutuban
and Alabang in Metro Manila and more than 400 between Manila and Legazpi City, so great caution is highly monitored.
Many accidents have occurred, when automobiles tries to outrun trains along crossings.

The growing number of informal settlers has a high impact in the railway security. These informal settlers have built their
communities linearly along the railway tracks, thus the name “Home Along the Riles (train tracks)”. The cars of the PNR
have installed security screens on their windows to eliminate people from either throwing something, usually trash, inside
or people sneaking to get a free ride. More than the safety of the riders, the safety of the people living along the tracks is
more perilous.

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Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 14

6. Affordability of Advanced Systems

The start of a transit-based development is eminent with the sheer number of condominium projects being built close to
railway stations, as observed by Lamudi, a property portal in the Philippines. In a city that is known for heavy traffic, the
developers took this opportunity to provide residential units near transit hubs to increase mobility. Although they are not
yet as sophisticated as those found in Hong Kong and Singapore, Metro Manila’s TODs are proving to be quite popular
and successful among traffic-weary commuters (Lamudi, 2014).

Many of Metro Manila’s TODs are located in close approximation to EDSA’s MRT stations (some are shown below),
making them extremely convenient for residents to access which has already partially resolved some of the city’s
congestion problems. However, these residential properties only cater to the middle to high income levels of the society.

In addition, due to the high poverty rate and rise of informal settlers along the on-ground railway systems, there are
already more sustainable (and illegal) approaches to utilize the tracks of the existing railway lines. Carts are either pushed,
pedaled or levered along the railway tracks servicing the same people who lives in these low-income community.

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7. Sense of Heritage

Ever since, the Manila-Dagupan Northline closed down, its tracks and stations were mostly forgotten and disregarded. In
the documentary “Daang Bakal” by Kara David for i-Witness, GMA Network, the tracks and each stations from Bulacan
to Dagupan was found and identified. However, the majority of the steel components and traviesas of the tracks were
already scavenged and sold, leaving no trace of the previous railroad. Some have houses already built on top of the old
tracks. For the stations, all are found and still distinguishable, however, most are already ruins and have dilapidated
conditions, except for some notable ones, like the San Fernando Station and Capaz Station which were reused and
converetd to museums and/or offices.

The Meycauayan Station of the Manila-Dagupan Northline before (construction in 1888) and after (2014). Photos by
PNR and Cesar C. Cambay respectively.
8. Policy and Governance

There are problems with regards to the (Santiago, 2012):

Acceleration in project implementations, as the best pace of the government on this matter, even with the Public-
Private Partnership (PPP) Projects is as slow as glacier; Absence of a coherent and sustained rail policy, as LRTA
and PNR are financially bankrupt thus infrastructure funding is a necessity and financial re-structuring plans should be
acted upon, which has been delayed for about 10 years; and High interests on rail from Official Development
Assistance (ODA) and Private Sector, as the lending portfolio of ADB in their Strategy 2020, for urban transport will
scale up by five times in five years; plus, the big players in the country, e.g. SM Development Corp, Ayala Corp., Metro
Pacific Investment Corp., etc, are on-the-prowl for more capitalist opportunities.

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Upgrading, Rehabilitation and Extension Projects of Existing Rail Networks
The operators of Philippine National Railways (PNR), Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) systems have
future plans for the upgrading, rehabilitation and extension of the rail lines. The extension projects include the following:

 Grand Central Terminal or Common Station (LRT-Line 1)

This LRT-Line 1 extension project is an interchange station that will link the rail line to MRT-Line 3, MRT-Line 7, and
MRT-Line 9. The initial plans for this project include a multi-level station with concourse in front of SM City North
EDSA. It aims to provide seamless transition between four (4) major rail transit lines (with MRT-Line 7 and MRT-Line
9 still to be built).
 North Rail Project (PNR)
It is the north commuter line that would once again connect Metro Manila to the provinces in the North. The rail line
passing through Clark, Pampanga and terminates at Dagupan City in Pangasinan will be revived under this project.
 South Extension Project (LRT-Line 1)
The 11.7-kilometer LRT-Line 1 Cavite Extension Project will be implemented by the Department of Transportation
and Communications (DOTC). This project will connect Baclaran Station to the future Nyog Station in Bacoor, Cavite.
The entire project is worth P44.65 billion under the Build-Transfer-and-Operate (BTO) scheme.
 East Extension Project (LRT-Line 2)
From the existing Santolan Station of LRT-Line 2, two more additional stations connected by 4.19-kilometer rail line
will be constructed eastward along Marcos Highway. These additional stations are Emerald Station (in between
Robinson’s Metro East Mall and Sta. Lucia Mall in Cainta) and Masinag Station (near the junction of Marcos and
Sumulong Highways in Antipolo City). The project cost amounts to P9.51 billion and is expected to be built by 2016.
 Mass Rapid Transit Extension Line (MRT-Line 3)
Although the plan for this project is not that clear as compared with other projects mentioned above, an extension of
the existing rail line from Taft Avenue to SM Mall of Asia is a possibility.
Artist’s sketch perspective and location map for the proposed Aside from the realization of these extension projects, proper operation and maintenance on a daily basis of existing rail lines
Grand Central Terminal or Common Station. and their components are of utmost importance to ensure the efficient and smooth travel of people, as well as the safety and
Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p= security of not only the passengers but of the employees as well. With millions of passengers using these mass rail transits
114773583&postcount=3735 every day, they are usually subjected to deterioration and/or damage. Also, the mass rail transit system plays a crucial role in
the socio-economic development and growth of an area, most especially in the cities and other urban areas.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

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Future Rail Lines in the Philippines

One major mass rapid transit project waiting in line for implementation is the MRT-Line 7, which will run from North Avenue to
San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan. This 22.8-kilometer railway system will have 14 stations, with majority of the line traversing
the Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. The construction of this railway system, through the Public-Private Partnership
(PPP) scheme, is estimated at P62.7 billion ($1.44 billion). The project’s major stakeholders include the San Miguel
Corporation (SMC) and businessman Salvador Zamora II under the Universal LRT Corporation Ltd (ULC BVI). DMCI Holdings,
Inc. and a local counterpart of Japan’s Marubeni Corporation will take care of the construction, engineering and procurement
of MRT-Line 7 and its Intermodal Transportation Terminal for three and a half years at the very least. After many years of
delay (contract between the government and ULC BVI was signed in 2008), the construction is expected to start soon after
SMC finally secured a performance undertaking from the Department of Finance (DOF) in 2014 as a requirement for official
development assistance (ODA) from the Japanese government, particularly the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
The new line, with 108 rail cars in a three-car train setup, is expected to initially accommodate 448,000 passengers daily.

The line will be connected to a proposed 22-kilometer road network from San Jose Del Monte to Balagtas in Bulacan as part
of a larger Integrated Rail and Road Project. The envisioned Metro Manila Integrated Rail Terminal will link MRT-Line 7 with
existing LRT-Line 1 and MRT-Line 3 as well as the proposed MRT-Line 4/Line 9. However, the issue regarding the final
location of the Grand Central Station is not yet settled as SM Prime Holdings opposed the DOTC’s approval of the new location
of the terminal near TriNoma Mall from its original proposed location in front of SM City North EDSA.

Map showing the line of MRT-Line 7.

Source: http://www.csjdm.gov.ph/mrt7-project.html

Cross section of the original design for the Metro Manila

Integrated Rail Terminal in front of SM City North EDSA.
Source: https://ryanericsongcanlas.wordpress.com/2009/
Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems
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The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is planning to build a 12-kilometer underground Mass Transit
System Loop (MTSL) running along Taguig, Makati and Pasay in the near future, pending the approval of the Investment
Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Once built through the PPP scheme,
this will be the first subway system in the country. The proposed rail network will link the fast-developing Bonifacio Global City
(BGC) in Taguig City, the Makati Central Business District (CBD), and the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City. The total cost
(financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance) of the project is estimated to reach P370 billion ($8.39 billion) –
making it the most expensive PPP project to date. The project aims to address the high demand for transport in the said areas,
as well as reducing on-ground traffic especially during the peak hours. MTSL will be seamlessly linked with other existing rail
networks in the metro – through interchange stations with PNR (Buendia Station), LRT Line-1 (Gil Puyat Station), and MRT
Line-3 (Taft Avenue and Buendia Stations) – as well as with other mass transit developments and public transport terminals.
In comparison with a possible Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the rail-based mass transit technology is deemed to be more
capable of meeting the projected demand since the proposed MTSL will be completely underground, thus avoiding the busiest
roads on-ground.

Demand forecast for MTSL traveling from individual stations.

Source: MTSL Investment Profile

Map showing the Mass Transit System Loop. Source: PPP Center.
Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems
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A study was made regarding the possible alignments of the rail line. Based on the demand study, the rail alignment along
Ayala Avenue would have the most patronage. Two (2) options on alignment within BGC have emerged in the study. However,
legal issues are needed to be settled first with all alignments requiring acquisition of land or right-of-way from private properties.
The construction of MTSL faces more challenges as the line will pass through existing utility lines, under major roads and
several built-up areas, as well as onto reclaimed land. Flooding is also a major concern for the project.

The University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman constructed a prototype of the envisioned zero-carbon and zero-greenhouse
gas emission monorail or mass transit system to be built and developed in the country by local engineers. Named UP Diliman
Automated Guideway Transit (AGT), the first phase of the project that will serve as test track was funded by the Department
of Science and Technology (DOST) and was built on an open area in the UPD Campus. The designs of the rubber-wheeled
train and elevated concrete rail track were developed by DOST’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC).

AGT prototypes in UPD (above) and Taguig City (below).

Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/

UP Campus plan showing the proposed Automated

Guideway Transit (AGT) System.
Source: Office of Design and Planning Initiatives

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 20

AGT is considered as the first Filipino-developed train in the country. The elevated concrete tracks was constructed by Miescor
Builders while the coaches were built by Fil-Asia Automotive – both are Filipino companies. UP’s National Center for
Transportation Studies (NCTS) and National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) joined forces to test the train and fine-
Diagram showing the existing and proposed rail lines in tune the speed, power, controls, and stress systems. This light version of intended mass transport system is aimed at
Metro Manila. supplementing existing mass transport systems and addressing vehicular traffic problems by providing alternative access to
Source: https://njytolentino.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/the- areas with smaller roads. The proposed completed line in UP Diliman is a 6.9-kilometer intracampus loop with 13 stations
metro-manila-transit-of-the-future/ serving the university’s main campus. Another monorail line is also planned to be built at the southern part of the metro, with
a bigger and regular prototype version recently constructed in Bicutan, Taguig City. The proposed monorail of the Bases
Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) shall connect Guadalupe area in Makati City to Manila International Airport
(MIA) in Pasay City.

The following are proposed mass rapid transit systems that are either defunct or still require further studies:

 MRT-Line 4 was planned to have a 22.6-kilometer line connecting Recto in Manila and Quirino Highway in Novaliches,
traversing España Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue; the project has been renamed MRT-Line 9 after the proposed
line had been modified down to 11 kilometers from West Avenue in QC to Rizal Park in Manila (other portion of the
original plan is the MRT-Line 7, may be linked with the Grand Central Terminal);
 MRT-Line 5 would supposedly connect Manila to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City;
 LRT-Line 6 is somehow related to the South Extension Project (SEP) of LRT-Line 1 from Baclaran (last station of existing
line) towards Cavite;
 MRT-Line 8 or the East Line is a 48-kilometer rail line that would connect Manila to Taytay, Rizal while traversing along
Shaw and Ortigas Boulevards; and
 Mega Manila Subway System is a 75-kilometer underground railway that would traverse the metro form North (San Jose
Del Monte) to South (Dasmariñas)

There are also other so-called “zombie” railway projects that were initially planned and are currently being revived for possible
implementation. These include the Panay Railways in the Visayas and the Mindanao Railway. While the Panay Railways was
initially conceptualized during the Marcos era, the Mindanao Railway was planned during the Estrada administration but was
not prioritized during the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The present government is now looking for options to implement
the P66.5-billion (approximately $1.33 billion) railway system in Mindanao that would link urban centers in the South such as
Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Pagadian, Dipolog, Marawi, Cotabato and Davao cities. The completion of the entire
system would take around 5-7 years. In Davao City, the local government is still waiting for years for the approval by the
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the proposed light rail transit that will connect the northern district
to the southernmost part of the city.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 21

A new railroad project in Negros Island is also being spearheaded by a sugar miller company, Victorias Milling Co. Inc. (VMC).
The project aims to transport not only sugarcanes but also passengers within the island. Through a possible PPP infrastructure
project, this can be developed in consortium with other sugar millers in Negros. The biggest stakeholder of VMC, Lucio Tan
Group of Companies, looks to improve milling volume through partnership agreement with large-scale sugar farm operators.
With 40% of operating costs of the company being allotted for transportation of sugarcanes, the idea of reviving the 130-
kilometer railroad that they previously operated has surfaced. Those firms under consideration for possible joint venture
include Hawaiian Philippines, Lopez Sugar, and First Farmers.


As of today, the railway system in the Philippines – particularly in Metro Manila – is not yet unified as compared with other
countries. There is a need to make the different rail lines connected in terms of operations to provide efficient mass transport
services for the public. Here are some suggestions to improve the railway transport system in the Philippines:

 Unified Ticketing System, Smart Transport Card and Transport Dispensing Machines
It would be better if a passenger won’t have to buy separate tickets for each line. To lessen the queue lines within
train stations, there must be a unified ticketing system for all rail lines (which will be tested and implemented in the
next few months) as well as smart cards that can be loaded anywhere and anytime with ease. It would also lessen
the travel cost as minimum fares upon transfer of lines will be eliminated. Also, transport dispensing machines may
help in avoiding blockage of passageways caused by long queue lines at ticketing booths.
 Seamless Connections Between Rail Lines
Effective connections of rail lines – through the interchange stations – can be achieved through adequate
passageways and vertical circulation features, accessibility for persons with disability and special needs, proper
location of ticketing (and food, if applicable) booths within stations to avoid huge concentration of people in an area,
and availability of other modes of transport adjacent or near these stations. The lesser time it is required for a person
to transfer from one rail line to another (or to other mode of transport), the better for the well-being of that individual
Map of Metropolitan Manila showing the existing and
as he/she is not exposed much to the heat, pollution and other environmental hazards.
proposed rail lines.
Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?
 Easy Access to Travel Information
Proper signages and warning devices are effective tools in informing the public of the activities happening in the
operations of the rail lines. Real-time transport information is also important to smoothen travels and transfers.
 Address the Issues on Informal Activities
The presence of informal communities and activities along the rail lines compromises not only the safety and security
of the people using the rail lines but also the operations of these railway systems.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 22

 Introduction of Clean and Green Technology

With the transport sector contributing to most of the air pollutants in the metro, it is of utmost importance to shift the
technology of rail infrastructure towards clean and green technology. The safety and security of the people using the
rail lines are not only related to the physical characteristics and attributes of the rail infrastructure but also to the
intangibles that may affect the health of the passengers and riders throughout the course of their travels.
 Request for Assistance from Other Countries
Developed countries with efficient railway systems may offer their expertise to resolve certain issues and problems
that we have with our rail lines. Financial aid from other countries for implementation of huge rail infrastructure
projects can be of great help also.

The Philippines may not be comparable with other developed countries such as Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul and London in terms
of having efficient railway system in the country, but there is still hope to correct the failures and improve the system through
proper implementation of adequate policies and strategies in the infrastructure and operations of these rail lines. Just like
Vietnam, which is still finding its way in providing rail networks to its people, the issues and problems of the Philippine Railway
System can still be solved to provide better transport services for the Filipino people.

Joana Lisa R. Dungca Arch 236: Movement Systems

Glenn T. Orbon Maria Lisa V. Santos (Adviser)
The Philippine Railway System Page 23

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