|Major operators||Government: DoTr (PNR, LRTA)|
Private: LRMC (LRT Line 1, O&M), MRTC (MRT Line 3), MRT7I (MRT Line 7)
|Total||212.4 km (132.0 mi)[a][b]|
|Double track||78.3 km (48.7 mi)[a][b]|
|1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)||161.8 km (100.5 mi)|
|1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in)||50.3 km (31.3 mi)[a][b][c]|
|750 V DC||36.55 km (22.71 mi)|
|1,500 V||16.75 km (10.41 mi)[a]|
Rail transportation in the Philippines is currently used mostly to transport passengers within Metro Manila and the nearby province of Laguna, as well as a commuter service in the Bicol Region. Freight transport services once operated in the country, but these services were halted. However, there are plans to restore old freight services and build new lines.
From a peak of 1,100 kilometers (680 mi), the country currently has a railway footprint of only 77 kilometers (48 mi). World War II, natural calamities, underspending, and neglect have all contributed to the decline of the Philippine railway network.
The Philippine railway network consists of two commuter lines provided by the Philippine National Railways (PNR) and three mass transit lines operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority and Metro Rail Transit Corporation, all of which are located in Luzon. Within the last century, there were operating intercity rail lines extending from Manila both north and south operated by PNR. There were also lines on the Panay and Cebu islands, operated by Panay Railways, which currently does not own rolling stock or rail, only property.
There has been rail transport in the Philippines for over 120 years. On June 25, 1875, King Alfonso XII of Spain promulgated a Royal Decree directing the Office of the Inspector of Public Works of the Philippines to submit a general plan for railroads on Luzon. The plan, which was submitted five months later by Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro, was entitled Memoria Sobre el Plan General de Ferrocarriles en la Isla de Luzón, and was promptly approved. A concession for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan City was granted to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan on June 1, 1887. The construction and running of the railway was done by Manila Railway Company Ltd that was a British owned company. The first rail tracks were laid in 1891 and its first commercial run was in 1892.
With the American takeover of the Philippines, the Philippine Commission allowed the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company (Meralco) to take over the properties of the Compañia de los Tranvias de Filipinas, with the first of twelve mandated electric tranvia (tram) lines operated by Meralco opening in Manila in 1905. At the end of the first year around 63 kilometers (39 mi) of track had been laid. A five-year reconstruction program was initiated in 1920, and by 1924, 170 cars serviced many parts of the city and its outskirts. Although it was an efficient system for the city's 220,000 inhabitants, by the 1930s the streetcar network had stopped expanding.
At the Tutuban Central Terminal in a bustling district of old Manila was the terminal of the Philippine National Railways for two lines, to the north and to the south. From the center of Manila towards Baguio in the north, the line ended in San Fernando, La Union while the south line stopped in Legazpi in the Bicol region. To and from these points it carried people and their goods, their trade and livelihood.
Most of the improvements on the rail network were destroyed during Japanese invasion of the Philippines during the World War II. Of the more than a thousand route-kilometers before the war, only 452 were operational after it. For several years after the war, work was undertaken on what could be salvaged of the railroad system. By the war's end, the tram network was also damaged beyond repair amid a city that lay in ruins. It was dismantled and jeepneys became the city's primary form of transportation, plying the routes once served by the tram lines. With the return of buses and cars to the streets, traffic congestion became a problem.
In 1966, the Philippine government granted a franchise to Philippine Monorail Transport Systems (PMTS) for the operation of an inner-city monorail. The monorail's feasibility was still being evaluated when the government asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to conduct a separate transport study. Prepared between 1971 and 1973, the JICA study proposed a series of circumferential and radial roads, an inner-city rapid transit system, a commuter railway, and an expressway with three branches. After further examination, many recommendations were adopted; however, none of them involved rapid transit and the monorail was never built. PMTS' franchise subsequently expired in 1974. Another study was performed between 1976 and 1977, this time by Freeman Fox and Associates and funded by the World Bank. It originally suggested a street-level railway, but its recommendations were revised by the newly formed Ministry of Transportation and Communications (now the DOTr). The ministry instead called for an elevated system because of the city's many intersections.
Creation of the Light Rail Transit Authority
President Marcos created the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) in 1980. The first lady Imelda Marcos, then governor of Metro Manila and minister of human settlements, became its first chairman. Construction of LRT Line 1 started in September 1981, test-run in March 1984, and the first half of the line from Baclaran to Central Terminal opened on December 1, 1984. The second half, from Central Terminal to Monumento, opened on May 12, 1985. Overcrowding and poor maintenance took its toll a few years after opening. With Japan's ODA amounting to 75 billion yen in total, the construction of LRT Line 2 began in the 1990s, and the first section of the line, from Santolan to Araneta Center-Cubao, was opened on April 5, 2003. The second section, from Araneta Center-Cubao to Legarda, was opened exactly a year later, with the entire line being fully operational by October 2004. During that time Line 1 was modernized. Automated fare collection systems using magnetic stripe plastic tickets were installed; air-conditioned trains added; pedestrian walkways between Lines 1, 2, and the privately operated 3 were completed. In 2005, the LRTA made a profit of ₱68 million, the first time the agency made a profit since the Line 1 became operational in 1984.
Attempts at rehabilitation
Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration (2001–2010) worked to rehabilitate rail transportation in the country, including the Philippine National Railways, through various investments and projects. Total reconstruction of rail bridges and tracks, including replacement of the current 35-kilogram (77-pound) track with newer 50-kilogram (110-pound) tracks and the refurbishing of stations, were part of the rehabilitation and expansion process. Much of those plans such as the Northrail Project were controversial and were never completed, due to allegations of being overpriced and anomalous.
The Duterte administration is seeking to expand and rehabilitate the current rail system in Luzon. Projects include the North–South Commuter Railway, a 180 kilometres (110 mi) line from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna, the Metro Manila Subway, a 36-kilometer (22 mi) underground rapid transit line from Quezon City to Taguig and NAIA Terminal 3, the LRT Line 1 South Extension, which would extend LRT Line 1 from Baclaran to Niog, the Subic–Clark Railway, a freight line from Subic to Clark, the PNR Batangas Railway, a new branch line serving commuters to and from Batangas, and the PNR South Long Haul, a total reconstruction and expansion of South Main Line from Manila to Matnog.
The current PNR service is also being expanded, with the PNR Metro Commuter now servicing Caloocan and Malabon. PNR is also planning to reintroduce services to the Carmona branch line sometime in the 2020s. New rolling stock was also acquired from PT INKA in Indonesia.
From the beginning of the American colonial period of the Philippines, the new American colonial Insular Government was committed to building new railways. The Philippine Railway Company, predecessor of the current Panay Railways, was incorporated in Connecticut on March 5, 1906. It was part of a "Manila syndicate", a collection of Philippine infrastructure companies including the Manila Electric Railway and Light Company, incorporated in New Jersey, the Manila Construction Company, and the Manila Suburban Railways Company. Later the Philippines Railways Construction Company was added. Cornelius Vanderbilt and William Salomon, among other leading American railwaymen sat on the board.
Construction began on a railroad from Iloilo City to Roxas City in Capiz with crews working from both cities and meeting in the middle in 1907. Operations began immediately upon completion. In 1985, passenger operations ceased while in 1989 freight operations ceased.
The Philippine Railway Company, along with operating the Panay line, operated a line in Cebu from 1911 to 1942, when operations ceased because of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. The line ran from Danao south through Cebu City to Argao. The line was built by the related Philippine Railways Construction Company.
The Philippines currently has two operational commuter lines: the PNR Metro Commuter Line, located in Metro Manila, and the PNR Bicol Commuter Line, located in the Bicol Region. Both of these lines are operated by Philippine National Railways.
PNR Metro Commuter Line
The PNR Metro Commuter line stretches from Tondo, Manila to the southern and northern edge of Metro Manila. It links the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, Makati, Taguig, Parañaque and Muntinlupa and the province of Laguna. Currently, there are 31 railway stations, with more stations planned to be reopened in the future. The current line is colored orange on most maps.
The line will be superseded by the North–South Commuter Railway upon its completion.
PNR Bicol Commuter
There are two rapid transit systems operating in the country: the Manila Light Rail Transit System, and the Manila Metro Rail System, both serving passengers in Metro Manila. Many passengers who ride the systems also take various forms of road-based public transport, such as buses, to and from a station to reach their intended destination. Beep, a contactless smart card, is used to pay fares for the lines.
Manila Light Rail Transit System
The Manila Light Rail Transit System is one of the two rapid transit systems serving the Metro Manila area of the Philippines. There are two lines to the system: Line 1 and Line 2 The system is under the jurisdiction of the Light Rail Transit Authority, although the Light Rail Manila Corporation is responsible for the operations and maintenance of Line 1.
Although the system is referred to as a "light rail" system, arguably because the network is mostly elevated, the system is more akin to a rapid transit (metro) system in European-North American terms. The Manila LRT system is the first metro system in Southeast Asia, earlier than the Singapore MRT by three years.
Its 31 stations along over 31 kilometers (19 mi) of mostly elevated track form two lines. LRT Line 1, opened in 1984, travels a north–south route. LRT Line 2, opened in 2003, travels along an east–west route. All of the stations of LRT lines 1 and 2 are elevated, except for the Katipunan station (which is underground).
The system is not related to the MRT, or the Yellow Line, which forms a completely different but linked system.
Manila Metro Rail Transit System
The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is the second rapid transit system serving Metro Manila in the Philippines. It originally began as a single line (MRT Line 3) that was first opened in 1999 and became fully operational by the year 2000. The MRT branding is currently associated with rapid transit lines in Metro Manila not under the jurisdiction of the LRTA, including lines 7 and 9, although the three lines will have different operators.
The system currently has 13 stations along 16.9 kilometers (10.5 mi) of mostly elevated track in an orbital north-south route. MRT Line 3, the first line in the system, opened in 1999.
Philippine National Railways
The Philippine National Railways (PNR) is a state-owned railway company. As of 2016, it operates one commuter rail service in Metro Manila and local services between Sipocot, Naga City and Legazpi City in the Bicol Region. PNR began operations on November 24, 1892 as the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan, during the Spanish colonial period, and later becoming the Manila Railroad Company (MRR) during the American colonial period. It became the Philippine National Railways on June 20, 1964 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4156. The PNR is an agency of the Department of Transportation.
Light Rail Transit Authority
Light Rail Manila Corporation
Metro Rail Transit Corporation
A private consortium of seven companies, Metro Rail Transit Corporation is owner and operator of Line 3 under a Build–operate–transfer agreement with the Department of Transportation. It was formed in 1995.
- Panay Railways: a government owned and controlled corporation of the Philippines, the company previously operated services on the Panay and Cebu islands. Panay Railways currently does not own rail and rolling stock, only properties.
- SMC-Mass Rail Transit 7: previously known as the Universal LRT Corporation, the company will be the owner and operator of Line 7 upon completion, under a build–operate–transfer agreement with the Department of Transportation. It is a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation.
Railways under construction
North–South Commuter Railway
The North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR), is a 148 km (92 mi) railway being constructed in Luzon. Partial operations will begin by 2021, and full operations is expected to begin by 2025.
- LRT Line 1 south extension: LRT Line 1 will be extended further south, from its terminus in Baclaran station in Pasay to Niog station in Bacoor. Construction started in 2019, and is expected to be partially finished by 2021.
- LRT Line 2 east and west extension: LRT Line 2 will be extended by 4 kilometers eastward and 3 kilometers westward. While the east extension is currently under construction, the west extension is projected to start by 2021.
MRT Line 7 (MRT-7)
Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT Line 7 or MRT-7) is a rapid transit line under construction. When completed, the line will be 22.8 kilometers long serviced by 14 stations. The line runs in a northeast-southwest direction, beginning at San Jose del Monte, Bulacan up to the under construction North Avenue Grand Central station located in North Avenue, Quezon City.
Metro Manila Subway
The Metro Manila Subway (MMS), also called the Metro Rail Transit Line 9 (MRT Line 9/MRT-9) is an underground rapid transit line currently under construction in Metro Manila, Philippines. The 36-kilometer (22 mi) line, which will run north–south between Valenzuela City, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, and Pasay, consists of 15 stations between the Quirino Highway and FTI stations.
Makati Intra-city Subway
The Makati Intra-city Subway is an 11-kilometer (6.8 mi) under-construction underground rapid transit line to be located in Makati, Metro Manila, that will link establishments across the city's business district. It will be built under a public-private partnership program between the Makati city government and a private consortium, led by Philippine Infradev Holdings. The subway was expected to begin construction by December 2020, and Makati Mayor Abigail Binay projects completion by the year 2025. On June 20, 2018, IRC Properties Inc. and its Chinese partners secured an ‘original proponent status’ from the city government of Makati for the proposed $3.7-billion Makati intra-city rail transport system. The subway will cost $3.7 billion (or ₱192 billion) and is expected to accommodate 700,000 passengers daily. It will also have ten stations, with connections to the existing Line 3, the Pasig River Ferry Service, and the approved Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway).
Planned or proposed
Automated Guideway Transit System
The Department of Science and Technology has commenced a project to develop a locally-designed and manufactured Automated Guideway Transit System.
- Bicutan AGT — Originally one of the two proposed AGT lines, the other being the cancelled UP Diliman AGT. It will follow the alignment of General Santos Avenue and C-6 road in southern Taguig, connecting the offices of DOST and nearby areas.
- Baguio Monorail — To be built in Baguio City.
- Davao People Mover — A 28-kilometer monorail project has been endorsed by the City Government of Davao to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Philippine National Railways (PNR).
- Iloilo Monorail — BYD, a Shenzhen-based company is conducting a two-month feasibility study to construct a monorail in Iloilo. The first phase of the 20-kilometer (12-mile) system was expected to start operations by 2019.
- MRT Line 4 — Targeted to be operational by 2025, MRT Line 4 will be a monorail line that will serve Metro Manila and Rizal.
- SkyTrain (Metro Manila) — The construction of the SkyTrain is projected to cost ₱3.5 billion and is yet to commence. Infracorp will construct the monorail line for two years and planned to make the SkyTrain operational by the end of 2021. Infracorp aimed to commence Groundbreaking in Late 2020, but not update has been given as of December 7, 2020. The Monorail is also set to connect to the Makati Intra-city Subway, MRT 3 Guadalupe, and the Pasig River Ferry Service.
- LRT Line 6 — A proposed rapid transit line in Cavite that will connect with LRT Line 1 in Bacoor and end at Dasmariñas. The project is indefinitely shelved by the national government due to space constraints along Aguinaldo Highway where it will be routed, but a private firm has presented an unsolicited proposal that modifies the alignment so to follow Bacoor Boulevard and Molino-Paliparan Road, and include 4 branches serving southern Metro Manila.
- MRT 10 — The project will be approximately 22.5 kilometers and a mostly elevated Light Railway Transit (LRT) System consisting of sixteen (16) stations along circumferential road C-5 connecting the Ninoy Aquino Terminal Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 to Quezon City, terminating at Commonwealth Avenue with possible interchange with MRT7 at Tandang Sora Station and LRT Line 2 at Aurora Station. Trains will be stabled at the depot to be built at the UP property in Diliman, Quezon City.
- Cebu Light Rail Transit System — As part of the Metro Cebu Integrated Intermodal Transport System, Cebu LRT will address the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Cebu. It will be partially operational by 2020, and will have a BRT feeder line. It will connect Carcar City and Danao City.
- MRT 8 — The Metro Rail Transit Line 8, or MRT-8 (formerly designated as MRT-9, now designated to Metro Manila Subway ), also known as PNR East-West Line, is a proposed rapid transit line in the Philippines. It would be a 9-kilometer (5.6 mi) railway system connecting Sampaloc, Manila and Diliman, Quezon City via Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon Avenue, and España Boulevard. The unsolicited proposal for the project was submitted to the Philippine government by Malaysia-based construction engineering company AlloyMTD group in 2016, and is awaiting approval by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). According to MTD Philippines, Inc. President Patrick Nicholas David, the project would cost ₱60 billion.
- MRT 11 — The project involves the construction of an approximately 18 kilometers Metro Railway Transit System (MRTS) of elevated structure starting from Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), Balintawak in Quezon City traversing along Quirino Highway, Novaliches and Zabarte Road in north Caloocan up to Barangay Gaya-gaya in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. A passenger transfer facility shall be provided proximate to the EDSA-Balintawak station of LRT Line 1 and the MRT 11 Balintawak station.
- The PNR Northeast Commuter Line or Cabanatuan–Makati line is a proposed reconstruction of the Balagtas–Cabanatuan branch of the North Main Line. It will branch off the northern half of the North–South Commuter Railway at Balagtas station in Bulacan. Once completed, it will become one of the three major commuter rail corridors in the Greater Capital Region, which consists of the NSCR and the intercity section of the South Main Line. It will connect Nueva Ecija and eastern Bulacan with Makati City in southern Metro Manila. There is also a proposed extension to San Jose, sealing a loop with the NSCR North Phase 4 between Tarlac City in Tarlac and San Jose.
- The PNR South Long Haul project will involve the reconstruction of the old South Main Line and its branch to Batangas City, both as unelectrified standard-gauge lines initially to operate on single-track configuration. It will be funded by the Chinese government. The line is set to be partially operational by 2022.
- Considered to be one of the primary infrastructure projects of the Build! Build! Build! Infrastructure Plan, the Mindanao Railway will consist of about 2,000 kilometers of trackage, with construction of the system divided into phases. The first phase, which is 105 km, is expected to be completed by 2022. The second phase will commence its feasibility study by 2021. The initial railway will connect the cities of Tagum, Davao City and Digos in Davao Region, and the cities of General Santos and Koronadal (Marbel) in Soccsksargen Region with planned phases to connect other major cities in Mindanao, such as Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City, Cotabato City and Butuan.
- The PNR North Long Haul is a series of projects to revitalize the intercity section of the North Main Line north of New Clark City station in Capas, Tarlac. Currently, only the section between New Clark City and San Jose is planned to be electrified with accordance to the NSCR standards.
- The Tarlac–San Fernando line will be a reconstruction of the 175 km (109 mi) intercity section of the North Main Line between Tarlac City and San Fernando, La Union after the NSCR Phase 3 between Capas and Tarlac City has been built.
- The Tarlac–San Jose–Tuguegarao line will be the latest realization of the plan to connect Cagayan Valley to the rest of Luzon by rail, a project in its planning stages since 1875. The most notable feature is a 10 km (6.2 mi) railway tunnel, the longest of its kind in the country and would be the highest point in the entire PNR system. There is also a planned extension to Aparri, as well as connecting the two main lines through a series of rail lines passing the Cordillera Administrative Region.
- The Philippine National Railways is interested in constructing a train network in the Visayas, to be known as the Visayas Railway, although no formal proposals have been made. On its vision statement, the PNR aims to become a transnational railroad operator covering all three major island groups in the country including the Visayas. Since 2016, two House Bills were sponsored for the reorganization of the PNR into three government-owned and controlled corporations, one of them being the Visayas Railway Corporation (VRC). Other than these, no mentions of a rail system in the Visayas Region have been made.
- The Subic–Clark Railway will be part of the PNR Luzon system development. Initially a freight railway, the line will connect Clark and New Clark City to Subic, forming a connected logistics hub in Central Luzon.
- Manila–Laguna freight revival – The Department of Transportation said it plans to revive the operation of a container cargo rail from Port Area in Manila to Laguna province. The tracks towards the berths of Manila International Container Terminal and Manila North Harbor to Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal in Calamba, Laguna will be revived to restart the container cargo service.
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- Operational length. With the completion of the NSCR, another 147 km (91 mi) of electrified double-track will be added.
- Does not include MRT and LRT lines under construction.
- Around 2,860 km (1,780 mi) of standard-gauge tracks will be built for the North–South Commuter Railway, PNR South Main Line, Mindanao Railway and Clark–Subic freight line.
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