Salceda: PNR south rail project to start this year
By Jorge Hallare LEGAZPI CITY --- Finally, the multi-million-peso Philippine National Railway (PNR) South Rail Project would definitely push through and civil works would start anytime this year, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said. In an interview Thursday last week, the lawmaker said the project plan was laid down at the recently held meeting with officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and PNR Management which was also participated in by high ranking local officials from Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Norte, the four mainland provinces of Bicol. Salceda said the South Rail project set to start this year has been allocated a budget of P151.3M to finance the manufacture of new coaches, including the rehabilitation and expansion of the railway track from the PNR Tutuban station to Matnog town in Sorsogon. The South Rail project, once implemented, will also be connected to the North Railway project for a totral project worth P258M. Salceda said that the PNR South Rail project was designed to be implemented in four segments covering a total of 653 kilometers which include: the Manila to Los Banos section with a length of 72 kilometers; Los Banos to Legazpi City with 406 km; Legazpi City-Matnog, 117 km; and Calamba-Batangas City, 58 km. The implementation of the Tutuban to Los Banos segment will be funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency, while the Los Banos to Matnog will be available through notice of loan proceeds from China. Salceda said Barangay Comon in Daraga, Albay will serve as the south rail central station that will pass through the southern barangays beside the Bicol International Airport and Maharlika Highway up to Barangay Villahermosa and proceed to the port town of Matnog in Sorsogon province. He added that there will be a spare line from Daraga to Legazpi City. Salceda said that during his talk with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Cesar Chavez, they have discussed the possibility of converting the railroad from Daraga town to this city as an alternate road to ease the traffic congestion problems in these areas. Salceda said he would be sourcing funds to buy out the PNR railway property from Daraga to Legazpi measuring 15 meters wide with more or less 4-km length and at the price of P30,000 per square meter.