The island of Luzon has been endowed with nature’s blessings but
only slightly stirred by trade and commercial activity. The galleons
that plowed the seas to and from Mexico offered some awesome
sights to the Filipinos at that time. Under these prevailing conditions,
the railroad was introduced as means of exploiting the untapped
riches of the virgin island of Luzon.
On June 25, 1875, by virtue of royal decree of King Alfonso XII of
Spain, required Inspector of Public Works of the Philippine Island to
submit a general plan for the establishment of a railroad line in the
island of Luzon.
After five months of conscientious study, Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro,
head of the Public Works Office submitted the plan called “Memoria
Sobre el Plan General de Ferrocarilles en la Isla de Luzon.” The plan
was granted for its implementation. On June 1, 1887, a concession
for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan,
Pangasinan was awarded to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocaril de
Manila-Dagupan, the original corporate name of Manila Railway Company
Ltd. of London.
On July 31, 1887, the cornerstore was laid at the present site of its
main terminal building at Tutuban, Manila. Five years later, on
November 24, 1892, the first 195 kilometer railway line from Manila
to Dagupan in Northern Luzon was opened for operation.
On February 4, 1916, the Philippine Legislaturer passed Act. No. 2547
acquiring the then Manila Railroad Company (MRR). Construction of lines
continued such that by 1940, the railway had been extended up to Legaspi,
Albay in the South and to San Fernando, La Union in he north. Branch lines
were constructed from Paniqui, Tarlac to San Quintin, Pangasinan; from
Tarlac, Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija; from Bigaa, Bulacan to
Cabanatuan City; from San Fernando, Pampanga to Carmen, Pangasinan;
from College to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and from Sta. Mesa to Hulo in
The Second World War brought considerable damages to the system.
The United States Army, which had temporarily gained control of the
Company, after the war in 1945, was able to restore 40% of the pre-war lines.
On February 1, 1946, the control of the railway system was turned over
to the Philippine Government. Of the 1,140 route-kilometers before
the war, only 452 route-kilometers were made operational. Since then,
the activities were concentrated on the rehabilitation and/or reconstruction
of damaged railway facilities. The period 1954-1957 marked the dieselization
program of the Company. Steam engines were retired and replaced by
diesel electric engines.
On June 20, 1946, Republic Act No. 4156, the new Charter was passed,
renaming the Company to what it is today – Philippine National Railways (PNR).
This law had been amended twice: first Republic Act No. 6366 enacted
on August 20, 1971 which provided for the rehabilitation and selective
modernization program of the Philippine National Railways; and the second
by Presidential Decree No. 741 issued on July 3, 1975 which raised the
capital stock to P1.5 billion.
Source: Philippine National Railways