Bill extending PNR life passes Senate on 2nd reading

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SENATOR Cynthia Villar on Wednesday said Senate Bill 1831 extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) was approved on second reading at the plenary.

"This bill is important to ensure the continuous services of PNR," said Villar, chairperson of the committee on government corporations and public enterprises.

PNR, the state-owned agency that operates the railway system, was given until June 19 this year to operate under Republic Act 4156.

Villar, principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill 1831, remains confident that it will soon be enacted into law since it belongs to the 16 priority bills Congress hopes to pass before it adjourns sine die by June.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said that during a recent meeting of senators and congressmen, they agreed that the extension of the PNR charter would be among the priority measures due to its necessity to the riding public.

Villar said they want to prolong the operation of PNR to provide the public, especially those who belong in the lowest-income bracket, a transport system that they can afford.

Compared to jeepneys and buses that charge P2 per kilometer, she said PNR provides the cheapest mode of transportation by charging only 71 centavos per kilometer.

She also noted that PNR provides a mass commuter service at the cheapest cost to 80,000 to 100,000 commuting public daily. Last year, about 20 million or 55,400 commuters daily were serviced by PNR trains.

However, Villar said PNR should work to develop rail connectivity in the country as practiced in developed countries like United States, Japan, Malaysia, India, and China.

At present, she said PNR operates commuter lines from Tutuban to Sta. Rosa, Laguna covering 23 stations over a stretch of 50 kilometers and from Naga to Sipocot with route length of 35 kilometers.

While the long-distance service to Legaspi City has been suspended in October 2012 after bridges were damaged by typhoons, the PNR said they plan to resume their service by September 2014 with a test run by next month.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) had earlier assured it will push for the extension of PNR life to help ease traffic, which worsened due to the ongoing two major infrastructure projects in Metro Manila – the Skyway Stage 3 Project and the NAIA Expressway. (Camille P Balagtas/Sunnex)

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