Trainspotting in Manila: How to Ride the PNR

If you’re planning to visit Manila anytime soon, brace yourself: you’re in for a hellish, inconvenient commute. In Manila, getting anywhere can be a piece of work. The travel time from NAIA, the international airport in Pasay City in Luzon, to Quezon City, where I live, usually takes two to three hours. It doesn’t help that we have a poorly organized public transportation system. The routes of the buses and jeepneys (which are smaller buses) can be intimidating and confusing to first-timers in the city.

A Time-Tested Solution

This is why I’ve always liked our trains. It can get crowded, and it breaks down several times in a month, but it will get you to your destination in the city way faster than you would if you take the bus.

Here’s my guide on how to commute via the Philippine National Railway (PNR), one of Asia’s oldest railway systems.

PNR
Inside PNR’s Metro South Commuter train

PNR Train Schedule

The entire PNR stretches from central to southern Luzon. As of writing, the Manila-Bicol services are still suspended and there is still no word when the Bicol Express will resume its operations. Originally slated in December 2016, the resumption of these services was canceled following an inspection in November, in which PNR officials discovered rotting train tracks and informal settlers that obstruct the railroad in Laguna and Bicol.

At present, there are two PNR lines operating in Luzon according to their website:

1. Metro South Commuter Train (Tutuban – Calamba)
As of December 2, 2014, only Tutuban – Calamba is operational.

2. Bicol Commuter Train (Tagkawayan – Legazpi)
As of January 2014, only Naga – Sipocot is operational.

Below are the timetables for the Metro South Commuter Train:

NORTHBOUND

PNR northbound
NORTHBOUND. Source: PNR Website

SOUTHBOUND

PNR southbound
SOUTHBOUND. Source: PNR Website

PNR Fare Matrix

Here’s a handy guide on how much a train ticket costs. Note that this is only for the Metro South Commuter train line, which traverses the cities of Manila, Makati, Pasay, Taguig, Parañaque, and Muntinlupa. (I know this can be confusing to read, so for easy reference, jump to the PNR Fares and Tickets page.)

PNR Fare Matrix
Click to see the image in a larger size. Source: PNR Website

How to Ride the PNR

The PNR website outlined the steps to riding the PNR as follows:

Step 1: Buy your ticket from the Ticket Booth.

Step 2: Show your ticket to the gate inspector/conductor.

Step 3: Ride the train. The first coach is reserved for the elderly, PWDs, and passengers with children, while the second coach is only for females.

Estimated travel time from Tutuban to Calamba is 2 hours, while the Naga to Sipocot route in Bicol takes 45 minutes.

Step 4: Exit train and show your ticket to the inspector at the train station.

Remember to always keep your ticket with you while you’re inside the train and the train stations. Before you can leave the station, an inspector will ask for your ticket. If you’re not able to show a ticket, you will be asked to pay the amount of the fare for the whole route.

PNR anniversary
Visit the PNR Facebook page for more information. (Photo credit: PNR Facebook Page)

Have you tried riding the PNR? What other tips do you have for folks commuting in Manila? Let us know in the comments section!

This post was written in March 2017. Note that the information here may not be up-to-date; for the latest news, please refer to the PNR Website.

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