This post was last updated on September 13, 2020. For the latest news, please refer to the PNR Website.
The Philippine National Railway (PNR) is one of the most underrated modes of public transportation in Metro Manila. Believe it or not, it’s one of the best public transport systems in terms of customer service and efficiency, although of course, their trains can be late sometimes. I mean often. But their customer service is admirable.
We’re lucky to have one of Asia’s oldest railway systems. If you’re planning to ride this line as part of your daily commute, here’s a handy guide that will help you get to your destination.
PNR Route Map
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 back in 2018, in which PNR officials discovered rotting train tracks and informal settlers obstructing the railroad in the provinces of Laguna and Bicol.
At present, there are three PNR lines operating in Luzon according to their website.
Below are the most updated timetables I was able to find on their Facebook page:
PNR Fare Matrix
Use this guide to find out 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.)
Note: Don’t throw out your ticket while inside the train! Passengers caught without tickets or short ticketed will be charged the farthest distance fare Manila-Alabang Php 30/ Manila-Calamba Php 60.
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, pregnant women, 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 the train and show your ticket to the inspector at the train station.
Again, always keep your ticket with you while you’re on the train and at the train station. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s still a pandemic out there. What precautions are being taken by the PNR administration?
Metro Manila is still under General Community Quarantine, so the PNR is still following the same health protocols that have been in place since June.
The use of face masks AND face shields are mandatory in all PNR premises. Aside from these, passengers are asked to log their contact information for contact tracing.
Do they allow bikes on the train?
As far as I know, folding bikes are allowed inside the PNR train car, but you will be charged a fare equivalent to one person. I haven’t tried this yet, though.
I’m a senior citizen. Am I allowed to board the PNR?
You won’t unless you have a valid reason for traveling. Secure a travel certificate from your barangay or show any proof of employment, if you are commuting to work.
How should I behave inside the train and other PNR premises?
The following are prohibited according to their website:
- Eating, drinking, smoking
- Being drunk or under the influence of drugs
- Bearing firearms or any pointed objects
- Balloons, balls, or firecrackers of any kind
- Paint, thinner, varnish, and similar chemicals
- Bottled wine, patis (fish sauce), and similar articles, unless properly packed or wrapped
- Smelly food like fresh meat, fish, bagoong, and daing unless properly packed or wrapped
- Bicycles (I assume non-foldies), skateboards, and other similar objects that may harm other passengers
- Playing the radio or musical instruments
- Live animals
- Big luggage exceeding 12″x18″x18″ in volume
Any other tips?
Be early. As in super early. And have a backup plan in case the waiting time gets too long.
There’s a limit to the number of passengers allowed per station. Back in June, I tried to take the northbound train from San Pedro Station, but apparently you have to sign up the night before your trip to be counted among the passengers. It’s crazy but it’s probably the best they can do to follow the guidelines set by the government. Please get in touch with your local train station a day before your scheduled trip.
Have you tried riding the PNR recently? What other tips do you have for folks commuting in Manila?
Let us know in the comments section!