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DOTr endorses Philtrak proposal to convert PNR railway into BRT

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
DOTr endorses Philtrak proposal to convert PNR railway into BRT
Passengers alight from the train at the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Tutuban Station in Manila on March 11, 2024.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has endorsed to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center the proposal of the Philtrak consortium to convert the decommissioned at-grade trackways of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) in Luzon and Panay Railways Inc. (PRI) in the Visayas into a bus rapid transit (BRT) line using hybrid electric road train (HERT) technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Philtrak consortium CEO Francis Yuseco Jr. said the DOTr, as well as the Department of Agriculture, has expressed support to their proposal to make use of the abandoned or decommissioned trackway of the PNR and PRI and put in place a “farm-to-market digital logistics integrated backbone” (FMDLIB) system that will be a cargo and passenger transport line ferrying agricultural produce as well as people in Luzon and in Panay island.

“Once the PPP Center evaluates it accordingly, it endorses it back (to the DOTr),”  Yuseco said in a recent media briefing. “Then, we can proceed with this.” 

“In the Philippines, we only have two railways. The PNR and the Panay Railways. Panay Railways has been decommissioned for over 39 years. The PNR, 90 percent has been decommissioned for over 30 years,”  Yuseco said.

“But these are patrimonial assets. These are the assets of Filipinos that we use for the present. The PNR rehabilitation projects in Metro Manila are  going to be fully elevated. So we’re going to use the ‘underneath’ or at-grade trackways.”

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the FMDLIB is a 1,079-kilometer completely walled-in and fortified at-grade level of the PNR on 30-60 meter width trailway.

“The project will be implemented by Philtrak Inc., sans government equity, sovereign guarantee, and taxpayer subsidies,” Bautista noted.

Philtrak had signed a memorandum of understanding with the DOST in 2018 to adopt the HERT technology developed by the DOST Metals Industry Research and Development Center for an initiative to rehabilitate and convert the long decommissioned Panay Railway line which used to run from Iloilo City in Iloilo to Roxas City in Capiz.

In the original plan, the consortium envisioned to deploy an initial fleet of 40-passenger, 17.8 meters long, fully-airconditioned ERT units at the line.

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