Bicol Express Rail Line Revival and Modernization Expected Under Marcos Administration
Bicol Saro Party-list Representative Brian Raymund Yamsuan is confident that the reviving and modernization of the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) Bicol Express rail line will take place during the current Marcos administration. This announcement comes following the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) decision to abandon China as a funding source for the project.
Yamsuan emphasized that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s commitment to reviving the Bicol Express is evident in the recent groundbreaking ceremony for resettlement sites accommodating residents of Laguna and Quezon who will be affected by the construction of the rail line. He stated, “President Marcos is not only determined to revive and modernize the Bicol Express as promised to the people of Bicol. He is also ensuring that affected residents are not neglected by guaranteeing their resettlement in livable communities. This is the strongest indicator that the project will push through.”
The rookie solon believes that opting out of the loan agreement with China may be even more advantageous for the Philippine government. Yamsuan explained that this decision allows the government to explore other funding sources that offer more cost-effective financing options.
Last week, the DOTr announced its decision to cancel its partnership with China for three major projects, including the Bicol Express line. Yamsuan recommended that the DOTr consider adopting the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to initiate the Bicol Express project. He suggested tapping into foreign funding institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) or the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to secure financing specifically for the project’s electromechanical system.
Under this proposed PPP mode, the government will solely fund right-of-way acquisition and rolling stock. The private sector will partner with the government for the civil works aspect of the project. Yamsuan emphasized the importance of reconstructing the Bicol Express as a modern, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation system. He stated, “Reviving the Bicol Express will be a game changer that will boost economic growth in South Luzon, create highly skilled jobs in the railways sector, and provide hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities for the people of Bicol.”
The first phase of the 368-kilometer Bicol Express project is scheduled to begin in Banlic village, Calamba, Laguna, and will traverse the provinces of Quezon, Camarines Sur, and Albay. The rail line will terminate in Daraga, Albay, with a potential extension line to Sorsogon.