One of the great “what if’s” for public transportation in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas pertains to rail transport that were operated in the Cavite and Rizal provinces prior to the Second World War. The present-day developments along what were railway corridors attest to the viability of these areas for development and it can be argued that rail transport services here could have been a game-changer in as far as public transport is concerned and may have significantly influenced travel preferences and behavior in these areas. These would not be light-rail but heavy-rail services and would certainly have had higher passenger capacities.
Close-up for railway lines from the figure in a previous blog
An even better close-up is provided in the following figure that shows three lines that could have shaped developments to the east and southwest of Metro Manila. These are the Cavite Line, the Marikina Line and the Antipolo Line.
Close-up for Cavite, Marikina and Antipolo Lines of the Manila Railroad Company
Following are the breakdown of stations for the three lines:
- The Cavite Line stretched from Manila through Paco, Paranaque, Bacoord, Noveleta until Naic in Cavite Province for a total of 44 km. Completed in 1908, it was abandoned in 1936.
- The Marikina Line started from Rosario (presently in Pasig and along an area still called Tramo) to Montalban via Marikina (where there is still a Daang Bakal) and San Mateo for a total of 31 km. Completed in 1907 (until Marikina in 1906), the entire line was abandoned in 1936.
- The Antipolo Line started from Manila and passed through Sta. Mesa, Pasig (likely somewhere in what is presently Bagong Ilog), Rosario, Taytay (through present day Cainta) and until Antipolo (near Hinulugang Taktak where there is still a Daang Bakal). Completed in 1908, the line was abandoned in 1917. The alignment from Cainta and Taytay crossed what is now Ortigas Ave. Extension at the Valley Golf gate and stretched along an alignment that appears to have the gentlest slope for a climb to Antipolo.
Clearly, if these lines were not abandoned but instead retained and developed even after World War 2, commuting preferences and behavior in Metro Manila could have been quite different. In fact, people could have chosen to travel by train instead of being dependent on cars. For those residing or working in the south (i.e., Paranaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, towns of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas) maybe people would have a viable alternative to the tollways in those areas. Note that the only operating rail transport in the area is the PNR Commuter Line that is currently experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Hopefully, its rehabilitation is completed and more passengers patronize the service.
Rizal is presently not served by any railway until perhaps LRT Line 2 is finally extended towards Antipolo via the Marcos Highway corridor. The Marikina-San Mateo- Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) areas are accessible via national roads that are often congested primarily due to paratransit traffic. The more progressive towns of Rizal (Cainta, Taytay, Binangonan and Angono) as well as its capital city of Antipolo is accessible mainly via either Ortigas Avenue or Marcos Highway. Both highways are already quite congested and road widening options are quite limited especially for the heavily traveled Ortigas Ave. One can only imagine now how a rail system could have addressed the travel demand along these corridors and perhaps enhanced the quality of living in these areas.