Alvarez files bill creating national railway regulator

By: October 21,2017 - 09:46 PM

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill that will consolidate the regulation of the country’s train systems into a proposed Philippine National Railway Authority (PNRA) and set up government corporations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to operate railways.

The bill will also require all railway operators to secure a legislative franchise from Congress before constructing and operating a system.

This was one of the proposals Alvarez earlier laid out as part of the “great reorganization of the government bureaucracy” that the House of Representatives plans to prioritize in the second year of the 17th Congress.

House Bill No. 6593 seeks to mandate the PNRA to “regulate all aspects of the Railway Corporations” that are presently operating and may be established in the future.

The current rail regulators — the Philippine National Railways (PNR), the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), the Panay Railways, Inc., and the North Luzon Railway Corp. (Northrail) — would be abolished and absorbed into the PNRA under the bill.

The PNRA’s functions will include entering into contracts, acquiring real properties, fixing the schedule frequency and route of railway services, privatizing any part of the system with prior approval by Congress, formulating a master plan for a national system with environmental standards, and ordering the cessation of any related activity.

Construction of railway tracks and changes in structures and methodology will not be allowed “without the prior approval of the Authority.”

Its five-man board of directors will be headed by the Transportation secretary and composed of three general managers of the railway corporations and one private sector appointee.

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