Salceda hails resumption of PNR Naga-Legazpi train service

LEGAZPI CITY – Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has hailed the resumption of the PNR Naga-Legazpi train service that he had strongly endorsed. He said he expects the rail service resumption last December 27 to usher in a more active commerce, cheaper and convenient mode of transport for passengers and merchandise alike between the two leading business hubs in the Bicol Region.

“We are glad it now has resumed after six long years to serve our Bicolano constituents as we have envisioned and fervently pushed,” said Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means  Committee, and the original proponent of the PNR South Long Haul project that would connect Metro Manila with Bicol, but which took time to launch. 

The twice-a-day 100-kilometer PNR Naga-Legazpi trip takes about 3 hours with fare that costs only P155 per passenger. It leaves Naga City at 5:38 AM and P5:30 PM and Legazpi at 5:45 AM and 5:47 PM. Bus fares on the other hand could cost about P160. UV express vans chare more or less P240 for the distance which it navigates in two or more hours.

In a meeting with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista in February this year, Salceda endorsed the idea of opening a modern railway segment connecting Naga City in Camarines Sur and Legazpi City, Bicol’s regional center, situated in Albay’s second congressional district.

During the meeting, DOTr Railways Undersecretary  Cesar Chavez, also a Bicolano, promised to immediately work on the Naga-Legazpi Rail proposal with funds provided for by the national government. Salceda and the two DOTr officials realized that the P142 billion PNR Long Haul project would take time to materialize and it would be wiser to meanwhile start with the Naga-Legazpi railways stretch.

The lawmaker has stressed that further development and improvements in transport infrastructure will further help promote increased tourism and economic activities in Southern Luzon, particularly Albay, which hosts world-class destinations.

President Marcos has identified the PNR South Long-Haul project as a priority of his administration. The project, Salceda said is a vitally urgent infrastructure not only for Bicol but for the entire Southern Luzon, Vizayas and Mindanao. It was approved and strongly recommended by the Bicol Regional Development Council in 2015, during his term as its chairman.

Salceda describes the project as part of a series of multi-modal big-ticket projects to make Bicol a more convenient gateway to the Visayas and Mindanao. “With air, sea, road, and rails access, Albay reaffirms its role as Bicol’s regional hub and economic radiation center,” he added.

While negotiations are being undertaken for the funding of the PNR South Haul project, Salceda stressed it’s worth the while to launch the Naga-Legazpi Rail segment, with a budget that is well within the national government’s capacity and which would definitely give the best returns on investment.