THE PHILIPPINE National Railways used to operate in 479 kilometers of route from La Union up to the Bicol region. However due to neglect and mismanagement, PNR’s coverage was greatly reduced. On the north and south mainlines it served Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, La Union, and Batangas.
Due to its decline, buses became the most favorable mode of transport. It was reported many times before that the north main line will be partly replaced under the current Northrail Project but due to numerous problems – legal, technical and administrative – as well as unresolved funding controversies and anomalies hounding the project we could not expect any swift resolution of these complexities and an effective start of this project in the years to come.
Rep. Micaela S. Violago, 2D Nueva Ecija, has filed House Bill No. 1236 “Creating the Central Luzon Railways Corporation (CLRC)” which is now pending with the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization. This corporation will serve as the instrumentality of the national government in providing a railroad and transportation system for Central Luzon that shall exist for a term of 50 years from the date of the approval of this proposed bill.
It shall have its main office in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija and shall have branches in Tarlac City and Angeles City. The construction of the railway network shall consist of two phases within a period of 10 years. Phase 1 shall include all the necessary construction works in San Jose City, Munoz, Guimba, all in the province of Nueva Ecija and Victoria and Tarlac City, all in the province of Tarlac.
Phase 2 shall cover all needed works from Tarlac City to Capas leading to its last station in Clark, Angeles City, Pampanga. The CLRC shall have purposes and specific powers such as to own or operate railroads, tramways and other kinds of transportation, vessels and pipelines for the purpose of transporting passengers, mails and property, and as an auxiliary to its main purpose to own and/or manufacture rolling stocks, equipment, tools and other appliances and to construct and operate in connection with its railroad lines, toll viaducts, and toll tunnels.
It will have an authorized capital stock of one billion pesos into ten million pesos shares at par value shares of Php 100,000 which shall be subscribed by the national government. It is provided further that five percent (5%) from the proceeds of VAT shall be allocated for 10 years starting from the passage of this bill to start the needed groundwork for its expansion to cover the provinces of Bataan, Zambales and Bulacan and which allocation shall be administered by the DOTr.
On his part, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Pogi Lazatin Jr. signified his all-out support to all landmark projects of the national government which are beneficial to the economic development of Region 3 in general and to the city in particular.
The first-termer mayor added that the railway system will benefit the region’s populace in terms of faster and safer transport services, but will also accelerate trade and commercial activities, and enhance the productivity of our people to propel progress to the entire country.
Executive Assistant IV Reina Manuel, One Town One Product (OTOP) advocate, said the railway project has long been overdue and should be implemented efficiently to ensure its spillover effect to the city’s local economy especially small businesses, tourism and traffic decongestion.
Furthermore, Clark International Airport VP for operations IC Calaguas pointed out that once this mass transit system is realized it would trigger the influx of tourism arrivals within and outside Metro Clark area, maximize productivity of industries, speed-up transactions, and ease the movement of people and cargoes as well not only in Region 3 but also adjacent provinces in northern Luzon.
Calaguas said she is confident this railway project is one of the “major sparkplugs” in order to normalize the economy which has been derailed by the COVID crisis for the past six months.
Just imagine its potential when connecting trains from Pangasinan leading to La Union in the years ahead will link up with this proposed railways system of Central Luzon could complete an ideal rail transport network that would certainly usher in a booming agricultural development and industrialization.
With a simultaneous rehabilitation and revitalization of the Bicol railway network, the country would have achieved an integrated modern and efficient railway network leading to all of Luzon’s airports and seaports, carrying thousands of people and goods everyday, with Central Luzon serving as the primary dynamo and model.
One-stop central depots for grains and other agricultural products could also be developed in Tarlac City, San Jose City and Clark, Angeles City which will reduce considerably the cost of transporting goods to Manila and which will help ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.