Manila: Philippine National Railway’s Old and New

PNR: New Train at Buendia Station

Philippine National Railways new train

I have been fascinated with our Philippine National Railway (PNR) but never really got the chance to jump in on the train and ride it. I got a thing for trains and I was able to ride a few trains on other countries. There’s just this different joy when riding a train for travel. I was really hoping that the PNR would be revived and alas it has recently been re-opened with brand new trains. So one weekend morning we decided to just ride the new PNR and see what has changed.

PNR: Waiting for the Train

Waiting for the Train at Buendia Station

We learned that the PNR only operates early morning and late afternoon. That’s 6:45am til 9:15am and 4:10pm to 5:15pm coming from Bicutan to Tutuban. Trains from Tutuban to Bicutan however leave earlier from 6:00am to 8:30am then 3:30pm and 4:45pm. I guess this schedule is catered more to students and workers commuting.

PNR Handle Bars

The trains are new and in good conditions. It is very similar (or is it the same) trains to the LRT2. It’s clean and the air conditioning works well. There are however no ticket stations like the MRT and LRT. An in-train conductor would approach you for your tickets much like how buses do it. Fare is really cheap from 10 Pesos to 15 Pesos on the whole stretch. The manpower for operating the train comes from a third party agency which gives people livelihood.

PNR Train Passengers

PNR Train Passengers

Travel time from Buendia to Tutuban only took 20-25minutes which is definitely faster than taking a bus and jeep. So this is very convenient. Aside from that you get to see the life of some People living along the rails. Some sights can be depressing but some are interesting. Windows are grilled since before, trains are being thrown rocks. Hopefully when they rehabilitate the runway, they could address these residences along the trackes. The Tutuban station as well is worth a look. There’s a gallery there of the PNR history as well as original train cart displays.

PNR: Passneges coming In

Passengers coming in the train

There’s a lot of plans for the PNR and I’m really hoping it extends its reach. I’m just a little disappointed I wasn’t able to try the old trains which I think has characteristically aged in time. We were still able to check out the old train carts though. And these old trains are still being used for routes going to Binan, Laguna.

PNR: Passngers alighting at Tutuban Station

Passngers alighting at Tutuban Station

Before, the PNR reaches up to far Legaspi Bicol. But the state of the rails has depreciated and some metals are being stolen by locals. Hoefully they fix this problem as for sure, I’ll be one of the first to jump-in when the Bicol route opens.

PNR: Old PNR Train

Old PNR Train

The old trains is really far from being just patched up. Some of the seats already have holes, ripped and torn out covers. Arm rest missing, even the flooring have already thinned out from rust. A few cables dangling from the ceiling. It’s really in a sorry state so I guess it’s about time to replace them.

PNR: Old Train Seats

Old Train Seats

So if you have a spare afternoon or a looking for an alternative quick way to Tutuban or Bicutan during the peak hours, look no further than the Philippine National Railway.

PNR: Exit Doors

PNR: Exit Doors

Route Info: From Tutuban to Bicutan, the PNR Train passing through Blumentritt, Laong Laan in Sampaloc, Espana, Sta. Mesa, Pandacan, Paco, Vito Cruz, Buendia, Pasay Road, Edsa Magallanes, and FTI tenement. soon, the northbound line will extend to solis, 5th avenue, assistio avenue and caloocan.

39 Responses to “Manila: Philippine National Railway’s Old and New”

  1. It’s refreshing to see PNR’s new trains finally. And like you, I also hope PNR will be able to rehabilitate its old routes to Bicol and even open up new ones – the Philippines really lag behind other Southeast Asian countries when it comes to long distance railways.

    Reply
  2. I also look forward to the day when the trains start their longer-route trips. We were given a preview of the trains they intend to use for the Bicol trips and I will surely jump on the first train that will ply the route. For the longest time, the railways were neglected and this practical and fast means of transportation seemed to have been ignored. For the time being, this is a good way to decongest our clogged streets and for the long-term, this will be a good way to travel to the provinces faster than riding buses.

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  3. I’ve been planning to try the new trains since I saw it on TV. Glad to read more about it here. :D How many stations are there?

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  4. who would not love to take this trip! still hoping here to be able to ride it and like oggie, im looking forward to be the first to travel to bicol!

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  5. SO true Nomadic Pinoy! The Philippines has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to the locomotive idustry. I sure hope they rehabilitate the Bicol route real soon.

    Yes Og! I remember seeing those carts that will be used for longer routes. Quite exciting.

    Hi Liz! I updated the article above on the PNR stations/stops. Currently there are 12 stations if I’m not mistaken.

    Yep Dom! That would be an exciting train ride to Bicol. I’d like to see the sights going there from a train perspective.

    Reply
  6. I’d like to think that the Orange stripe was because we named the PNR line “Orange Line” back when I was working at the Office of the President. I am glad they’ve got new trains now. I had the chance to ride the old train with Pres. Arroyo sometime in 2002 or 2003.

    I am looking forward for the completion of Northrail and Southrail, the Monumento – North Ave “closing the loop” (another term coined when I was at the Office of the President) project and Baclaran-Cavite line. Mabagal talaga pero sana matapos na ang mga train projects natin.

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  7. Thanks Nina for that additional Info! Wow, you were working pala under the Office of the president. Yup, I heard about the closing the loop. I really do hope they complete the project soon.

    They’re a big improvement on the old one GrumpyUrbanSlacker! Looking forward to its completion.

    Swabe na swabe Pao!

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  8. ramon genato

    i can’t hardly wait for the official opening of the rail lines. Rehabilitating the PNR is a government project that should have been done ages ago. We will surely be riding the trains if only for the ride and the sightseeing fun of it. Congratulations to PNR for the good work!

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  9. I hope they build big malls on the north and southern tip of the railroad trips. Probably a coliseum for concerts or imported product stores in malls. cheaper car dealerships and probably a connecting cable ride to Baguio. I know long shot, but it would be a tourist spot, outside Manila.

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  10. wow…those trains are nice. they will make travel to bicol faster and safer wtih those new trains…keep up the good work PNR…i hope there will be no corruption involved in this very good and timely project. this will bring in more tourist to the bicol region and it will commuting a very relaxing thing….

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  11. ramon genato

    It was reported years ago that the Paco PNR station was bought by a group of developers who actually started some work, but suddenly stopped for some unknown reasons. The stoppage should be seen as a blessing in disguise because the PNR try buy the station back, and rehabilitate it to its old self. The station with its huge columns is art deco, and should be restored not sold off. Singapore converted its old post office to a hotel after refurbishing the building, so why can’t we get back the old station and restore it?

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  12. Nice photography and the stations and the train seemed to be new thus very clean.
    I’m looking forward for the Bicol ride to be had very soon. Just like most of you guys, I’d really love to ride it myself, too.
    Hey, Ferdz. I guess I was just a bit lucky I was able to experience riding in those old coaches before they were replaced with new ones. I’ve got a few shots here shoot in film. I hope you don’t mind if I’ll post the link here: http://travelogue.digitalrebel.ws/2005/12/buhay-riles.html

    Reply
  13. aycon.palaboi

    this article is cool! i remember the 1st time i rode a train fr manila to dagupan at tutuban terminal. it was an unforgetable ride hahaha….i was just 10 yrs old then i asked my dad to try ride that train. My whole body ached!LOL! a bumpy ride…I was able to get a chance to ride the old commuter train out of curious going to La Union. We get off Dagupan and tooked a mini bus going to La Union. I even told my dad not to do it again after the pain i suffered ahahaha…..I told dad LRT is better, than riding the PNR train hihihi…..Is the terminal in Tutuban the old terminal they used before? Ferdz ;-)

    Reply
  14. jeyeykei

    Can’t find the site wherein i can access the train schedule from manila to bicol, and would also like to know the fare price. So eager to hop in that glistening train to wherever.

    Reply
  15. I’ve been dreamin’ for ages to ride the PNR train going to Bicol or Dagupan. I’m an avid passenger of the new PNR trains and I remember myself very excited when I heard the news before that the PNR trains are back on tracks. I used PNR trains when I’m going in my office in Alabang..

    By the way, the new Sucat station is now open and the new PNR trains now have new schedules. Check this out:
    SOUTHBOUND (Tutuban-Sucat)
    5:00AM; 5:30, 6:00; 6:30; 7:00; 7:30; 8:00; 9:00; 10:00; 12:00NN; 1:30PM; 3:00; 4:00; 4:30; 5:00; 5:30; 6:00PM; 6:30PM (ordinary train, Tutuban-Biñan)

    NORTHBOUND (Sucat-Tutuban)
    6:00AM; 6:30; 6:35AM (ordinary, Biñan-Sucat-Tutuban route); 7:00AM; 7:30; 8:00; 8:30; 9:00; 10:00; 11:00; 1:00PM; 2:30; 4:00; 5:00; 5:30; 6:00PM; 6:30; 7:00; 7:30PM (ordinary train, Tutuban-Sucat-Biñan route).

    The ticket costs only P20 (if you’re coming from Tutuban & Blumentritt stations), P15 (if you’re coming from España to Buendia stations), and P10 (for shorter routes).

    PNR is also currently operating in Bicol area only, from Naga City to Ligao, Albay. After finishing the rehabilitation of two rail bridges in Quezon and Laguna, the Tutuban-Calamba route will open in May or June, and the Tutuban-Naga-Ligao Albay route in September. :)

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  16. hindi lang papuntang bicol and pnr. taga la union ako at sana mag open din ulit ang train service up to san fernando la union.

    Reply
    • Ask ko lang po kung saan pwdeng mag send ng mail para makapags-suggest or mag-ask ng question sa PNR…

      Reply
  17. Tignan nyo bagong sched ng PNR…http://www.pnr.gov.ph/ (click on services)
    Nakakaabot na daw up sila up to Alabang and Legaspi…eto na ba ung latest? Or eto lang yung aim nila? Kaso may sched na talaga nakalagay eh.
    Waaah! Kelangan ko na talaga ng cheaper way to go back and forth to Laguna.

    Reply
  18. Medyo galit ako sa mga corruption scandals ni GMA, pero pag nakakakita ako ng mga ganitong balita (New Roads, Trains, etc…) medyo nababawasan ang galit ko.

    Reply
  19. Philip C. Young

    Will you be travelling / stopping at San Pablo City? When?

    How about the Calamba route – when it shall commence operation?

    Reply
  20. chris

    If I were you I wont ride on this train because it’s one hell of a ride and i mean that literally its like hell inside and outside the train. The train stations are not properly guarded, I remembered one lady is entering the train her cellphone got snagged by someone outside the train and the lady herself noticed it but couldnt get out anymore to chase for the snatcher because the train is already crowded and people are still getting in. You wont feel the air conditioning because the train is too crowded, i could barely breath. Everyday i travel from alabang to blumenttrit from 6am to 7am via bus and lrt line 1, but when tried the pnr it took me 3hours to reach my destination.

    To all reading this blog or whatever you call it, im telling you this is a false advertisement, i have experienced riding this train myself so i know.

    Reply
  21. Hi Chris! Thanks for your opinion but this is NOT and advertisement and is based on my experience. I’m sad to hear about your unfortunate incident but I don’t it happens to all people and judging the service with one event like that seems unfair.

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  22. Thanks for this Ferdz. I believe you, this is indeed true. PNR had its share of dark and not-so-pleasant past, but we should be happy that the state-run railway is improving. The new trains are serving well running from Tutuban to Alabang, soon it will reach Calamba.

    The line to Bicol is already passable but the PNR is still assuring the safety of traveling long distance to Bicol.

    Last week, a special pilgrim train from Manila reached Naga City safely. Soon, we Bicolanos, hope that we will once again ride the trains that helped this region develop into what it is now.

    The PNR is already being served by the new trains since mid-2010, people from Ligao City in Albay to Sipocot, Camarines Sur are now enjoying daily commuter services with aircon, clean and properly maintained trains. Bicol run using the Japan Railways trains serves up to Tagkawayan, Quezon.

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  23. Thank you very much for the update Vic! Am looking forward to try out that train to Bicol once it’s operational :)

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  24. The very first time I saw a PNR I feel I’m in the other countries, especially Europe (I’d been to Germany and The Netherlands). Also, the clean railways is very commendable. I hope this will be expanded and maintained by the present government. My father used to work with the PNR way back in the 60’s kaya medyo nostalgic ako….. Sana naman wag ma-politika at nang di mahinto ang programa….

    Reply
  25. Will there be a Manila Lucena route? and when will be operational? I’m currently studying in pasay and I travel weekly from pasay to lucena. Thanks.

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  26. nikko Roger

    I took the train last October, 2010 from San Andres to Tutuban and I found it to be effective and cheap. No hassles and fast. Only needs to have additional runs. Thanks to the people working at PNR and to the government….

    Reply
  27. brady paguibitan

    During the time of GMA napaalis lahat ng squatters sa tabing riles. nalipat sa bulacan laguna etc. Subalit ng pumalit si Pangulong NoyNoy unti unting nagbabalikan ang mga squatters sa tabing riles. Dumarami na muli ang mga squatters sa tabing riles. Bumabalik muli ang mga magnanakaw, agaw-cellphone, akyat bahay at marami pa. Kaya mga taga PNR, muli kayong magtrabaho? Huwag ninyong hayaang muling dumami at magbalikan ang mga squatters sa tabing riles. MAGTRAHAHO KAYO MGA TAGA PNR.

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  28. tuks mendoza

    id like to ask what are the pnr plans in the future? i heard for so many years now that squatters along the pnr areas will be relocated, when in particular for the old pnr station in tarlac city? when i was a child those were glorious and happy days of hearing the train whistle but after 2 decades esp in the late 90’s or early 2000 were the mushrooming of squatters erecting even concrete structures as if the land they occupy is theirs. Worst is, which is agree with brady paguitan, is the rampant incidence of akyat bahay and theft for which we are victims.

    sana man lng the govt will do something about it. we are legitimate dwellers and lot owners and yet kami ang nvivictimize – no respect for property, naninira na other than ngnanakaw pa. It’s hard to pinpoint fingers as to who the culprits are but i must admit ng wala p cla there never was an incidence of theft and i miss that, kaya tuloy d mdeve-develop ang area. Mgbanat nman sna sla ng buto rather mmerwisyo ng tao tulad nmin

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  29. Dear Sir,
    I stayed in Osaka for 3 years and riding their train quite an experience
    compared to PNR old Indian coaches. I wonder if the current coaches
    and the train itself that now used by PNR are the same as that in Japan.
    How old is these Japanese trains?

    Reply

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