Travel time between San Pablo, Laguna, and Lucena, Quezon, is now down to just 30 minutes with the reopening of the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) San Pablo–Lucena Commuter Line.
The 44km line, which was officially inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 25, began public operations on June 26, 2022. According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), it has a daily passenger capacity of 3,683.
“We know that with effective transport system, we make places more accessible and easier to manage thereby strengthening trade within rural and urban areas,” Duterte said.
“In the previous years, we have championed programs that fill in the gaps in the transportation sector. Now, I urge the [Department of Transportation], especially those who will be left behind and those who will take over the mantle of leadership to continue leading the improvement of our railways system.”
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The commuter line ceased operations in October 2013. Prior to its reopening, the distance between San Pablo and Lucena usually took one hour to cover by land.
“When I was appointed general manager, [the President has] given me the marching order to move people, not cars. Move cargo, not trucks,” said Junn Magno of the PNR. “And all developments must be inclusive, including the people in the rail community along the tracks. All our actions have been directed towards achieving that order, and I’m happy to report, sir, we have accomplished that.”
The revived train line is part of what was then known as the ‘Bicol Express.’ In January, the DOTr signed a contract for the initial funding of construction and electromechanical works for a new 565km line stretching from Metro Manila to Sorsogon already. This South Long Haul Project or PNR Bicol will cut the 12-hour journey to just four hours by train.
The San Pablo–Lucena Commuter Line falls under PNR Bicol’s Package 1, which has a budget of P142 billion. It will stretch from Banlic in Cabuyao, Laguna, to Daraga, Albay, and will include 23 stations, 230 bridges, 10 tunnels, and a 70-hectare depot in San Pablo.