AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca
I remember when I was young, probably twelve or thirteen years old and my little brother was four or five, we rolled on to Manila via the train that travelled from San Fernando, the capital town of La Union, to Tutuban in Manila in about seven hours.
It was an uneventful trip graced only by dozens of hawkers who sell anything from snacks to religious artifacts. Some of them even boarded the train to do a little more selling then got off at the next station.
To my recollection, the next time I took a train was when I was in my early twenties. I was told to get in touch with a cousin who asked me to contact Clarence de Guzman who was then a director of the Philippine National Railways (PNR). Mr. de Guzman was a very accommodating boss and gave me a memo pad with each page signed. His instruction was that whoever comes and asks for recommendation, I would give him (or her) one right away using the signed memo pad.
It was a neat arrangement including some recommendations for myself and my pals. I could travel practically free and so I went to the south where Mayon volcano is. I also travelled north to Baguio but there I had to take the Benguet Auto Line bus because the train could not climb up to that summer capital.
That was the last of my exposure to the PNR. I couldn’t recall when the PNR bade goodbye to the northern line.
Anyway, another set of trains is going to run on the tracks of PNR soon. Official announcements say that the first batch will arrive sometime in December. It will be a set of new trains with new gadgets, new equipment and new look. The training simulator for the Clark Phase 1 of the project will be delivered this or early next month, according to Department of Transportation Arturo Tugade.
Currently, the project is moving at a 45.82 percent overall progress rate. Funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency, the PNR Clark Phase 1 Project is a 38-kilometer railway that runs from the Tutuban Station in Manila to Malolos City in Bulacan.
There is another one being built outside of Luzon. This one is being built in Davao. Whatever the outcome is, people certainly await the outcome of these gargantuan projects.