During the field in 2003, we also visited the PNR yard in Tutuban. The original central station/terminal of the PNR was already lost to what is now the Tutuban Mall. Perhaps in the near future, the PNR would again have a central terminal with architecture evoking its glory days. I’ve always imagined something that looks like what is Tokyo Station today. After all, stations of what was the PNR Main Line North featured red bricks.
At the PNR yard in Tutuban, one could see what were operational and abandoned rolling stock and other equipment. Notice the roofs of the passengers cars? The roofs were modified because informal settlers were throwing their garbage and other wastes on top of the cars. The reasoning for the modification was that the wastes would just slide down. There’s some anecdotal evidence that the settlers also did their own adjustments by tying two plastic bags of garbage and hurling the two in such a way that the two bags would be on either side of the roof.
A turnout at the PNR yard – turnouts allow for the diversion of trains from one set of tracks to another. It has three basic components: switches, acute angle or vee crossings (also known as “frogs”), and obtuse angle crossings. Visible in this photo is the frog at the middle of the picture and the check rails across from either side of the frog.
Every wonder how the switches are activated so trains can transfer from one set of tracks to another? The contraption on the left is a lever that moves the rails for the trains to switch tracks. Of course the LRT and MRT lines use a more modern version of these devices so trains can transfer tracks once reaching the end of the lines.
PNR staff working to secure the rails to the railroad ties (sleepers or traviesa) – it may look pathetic but the PNR was really so ill-equipped that they had to use manual drills to make holes on the wooden sleepers and then hammer the spikes (shown in the foreground) to the ties. Note the man with the big hammer on the left waiting for his turn to work. Since then, the PNR has changed many of these sleepers so we see mostly concrete ties in their places. Many sleepers were stolen not just along abandoned tracks in the north and central Luzon but those along active tracks as well. These were sold as construction material, garden accessories or even accents for houses, offices or restaurants.