LEGAZPI CITY -- The construction for the “total transformation” of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) service from Manila to Legazpi is scheduled to start next year, a PNR top official has said.

PNR General Manager Junn Magno, in an interview on Thursday in Manila, said the project is not just a rehabilitation nor modernization but transformation with PHP 175.32-billion budget. 

"The transformation program is under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the Duterte's administration and is expected to finish within span of seven years, nowadays the government is under the process of hiring consultants for the project called ‘South Long haul’," Magno said.

He said many informal settlers will be affected by the project because not one but two PNR tracks would be constructed to allow the two-way route from Manila to Legazpi and vice versa.

The problem of relocating hundreds of informal settlers lies in the hand of the National Housing Authority especially in the Bicol Area.

"All the old railway and travesa will be totally removed and replaced with new one to match with the new PNR coaches. The new PNR coaches will run at the speed of 120 km per hour and the travel time from Legazpi City to Manila will be only six hours." he added.

Under the project, the PNR railway will be secured by fence just like the MRT.

For the intersections and highway crossings, the railway will be elevated like the skyway. (PNA)