Philippine News Agency : Marcos vows to revive glory days of ‘Bicol Express’

2 March 2022

By Philippine News Agency

MANILA – Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. admitted that there is a need to improve the transportation system in the Bicol Region and it is going to be one of his priority projects when he wins the upcoming May 9 elections.

“Madalas nating marinig noon ang salitang ‘Bicol Express’ patungkol sa mga tren na bumibyahe sa rehiyon. Sa paglipas ng panahon ay naging palasak na lang ang katagang ito na tumutukoy sa pangunahing sistema ng transportasyon na ngayon ay bilang isang masarap na pagkain ng mga Bicolano (We used to hear the word ‘Bicol Express’ in reference to trains traveling in the region. Over time this term has become commonplace referring to the main transportation system that is now as a delicacy of the Bicolanos,” Marcos said in a news release on Tuesday.

Marcos assured that he will bring back “Bicol Express” which is more organized and effective if he emerges victorious in the presidential race.

The Philippine National Railways (PNR), a government-owned company, was established in 1875 as the Ferrocaril de Manila-Dagupan and plied its initial route to Pangasinan.

Seven years later, the railroad linking Dagupan and Legazpi was created and it became popular to travelers because it was cheaper than an airplane but way much faster than a car.

In 1931, the Manila-to-Bicol route, which was popularly known as Bicol Express, started.

The Bicol Express, however, slowly deteriorated in the 70s due to security issues, the proliferation of air-conditioned buses, calamities, and finally the Mayon Volcano explosion in 1993.

In 2006, the railways were badly damaged after the onslaught of Typhoons Milenyo and Reming, which finally led to the suspension of the Bicol-Manila route.

After a massive rehabilitation, the Bicol Express came back to life in 2011, but the endearing title has now become synonymous with the region’s popular dish.

“Hindi naman siguro tayo nakakalimot na ang tren na biyaheng Bicol ay hindi lang nagbigay ng malaking kaginhawaan kundi nagdulot din ito ng malalim na kasiyahan sa ating mga kababayang Bikolano. Ibalik natin ito pero mas pagandahin pa natin at pabilisin upang magsilbing pangunahing transportasyon ng mga Bicolano at mga dayuhang turista na naaakit sa ganda ng bayang ito (We should not forget that the Bicol train trip not only provided great convenience but also brought deep satisfaction to Bicolanos. Let’s bring it back but let’s make even more beautiful and speed it up to serve as the main transportation for Bicolanos and foreign tourists who are attracted to the beauty of the region),” Marcos said.

He added that the improvement of the railway system will be aligned with his continuity of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program but he will also be open to talks with big companies who are willing to finance its rehabilitation via the Public-Private Partnership program.

“Ang kailangan natin ay maging agresibo sa pagsusulong ng mga proyektong makakapaghatid ng maayos na serbisyo sa ating mga mamamayan. Isa lamang ito sa mga layunin natin upang iangat ang Bicolandia matapos ang mapamuksang pandemya (What we need is to be aggressive in advancing projects that will deliver good service to our people. This is just one of our goals to lift Bicolandia after the devastating pandemic),” Marcos said. (PR)