MANILA, Philippines � The test-run for trains that will be plying the Manila-Bicol route was successful, an official of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) announced today.
Conducted last weekend, the test-run covered more than 400 kilometers through a newly refurbished locomotive train with several tourist class coaches donated by the Japanese government.
�In my assessment, the Bicol test-run we conducted was 95 percent successful and we are nearing our objective to put back in operation the commercial PNR trips to Bicol region,� said PNR General Manger Junio Ragragio Jr.
The Manila-Naga trip took only nine hours, shorter than the usual 10-hour travel time through bus, Ragragio said.
�This makes trip to certain parts of Southern Luzon via train a highly viable travel alternative,� he said, adding that all train coaches for the "Bicol Express" will be air-conditioned.
Also included in the test run was a locally refurbished passenger coach with several reclining chairs with a fit and finish comparable to imported train cars. It has better amenities to compete against imported first-class air-conditioned bus.
�We have the tourist class where we have reclining chairs with more leg room compared to commercial buses. This includes a wide screen LCD with state-of-the-art sound system to comfortably watch movies during the long trip,� Ragrario said.
�We also have two types of sleeper coaches. One is a family suite that is good for a family or barkada of 4 to 6 persons. And we also have the executive class for passengers who would like extra privacy during the lengthy tour and the inclusion of a dining car with an ambiance of first class restaurant,� he added.
He added that several projects are at hand for the Bicol Express route that includes the renovation of several train stations traversing along the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay.
�These train stations used to be teeming with commercial activities. However, after a long absence of train operations they are now in a state of neglect,� he cited.
The PNR is mulling at putting up railway connections to Batangas, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon.
�It is a very difficult and laborious undertaking but we are up to the challenge�, he said. - By Jun Pasaylo (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)
Reposted From Jun Pasaylo of Philstar.com