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What if Manila retained its railway lines of old?

November 2012


It is possible to trace the old railway lines of Manila to the towns to its east in what is now Rizal Province. I had seen it in one railway blog that one of my students showed me after we took up the history of railways in the Philippines where I showed them old maps of the railways in the Philippines. And so based on the descriptions found in those maps and texts combined with familiarity with the places mentioned there and the availability of a tool like Google Earth, it is possible to produce the following images showing two particular lines that could have been “game-changers” for a lot of people taking public transportation between Metro Manila and the areas to its east (i.e., towns in Rizal Province).

Traces of railway lines of old from Tutuban in Manila to Antipolo (blue) and San Mateo (green)

The blue line extending to Antipolo City passes through an area that is part of Valley Golf and ends up near the Antipolo Church (Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage). This line could have been a major mode for commuters residing in Antipolo, Taytay, Cainta and Pasig City.

The line extending to San Mateo, Rizal passes through densely populated parts of Pasig and Marikina Cities. The line could have served people residing in these towns all the way to Rodriguez (Montalban).

The outcomes of the exercise of tracing old railway lines as shown in the previous photos allow us to appreciate and maybe contemplate on the “what ifs” and “what could have beens” if the Philippines did more efforts in retaining its railway system after the Second World War. I do not think planners at the time were able to anticipate the rapid development of the area that was to formally become Metro Manila in the 1970’s. While the road network plans were in place, thanks to the design by Daniel Burnham, what Manila and its environs needed was a transit network that did not depend on roads and something that would have been able to carry much more people (and maybe even freight) than the jeepneys and buses that emerged postwar. Perhaps we were not doomed to the current choices that we have and commuting would have been much simpler than the terrible experience many people from these eastern towns have every weekday. I leave it up to the reader to imagine how comfortable and convenient travel would have been along these lines.


  1. Jun Y. Viray says:

    Given the present state of our metropolis and its suburbs, the nearest thing that can approximate the post-war conditions is the LRT-MRT system. We only need to design, for a long haul, say 50-100 years. Political will and a down-to-earth objective for the common good. And begin the job today!

  2. […] “All roads lead to Antipolo” is a saying that is especially true for devotees to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for whom the shrine in Antipolo is dedicated. Indeed, major transport routes lead to Antipolo City and signboards on jeepneys (and buses of old) state “Antipolo Simbahan” as their destination. In much older days, the Manila Railroad Company used to have trains directly serving this route. The remnants of its right-of-way is still there but in the form of roads. These are the Daang Bakal, which stretches from Valley Golf in Cainta, Rizal until its junction with Taktak Road and Ninoy Aquino Blvd., where it becomes the Lorenzo Sumulong Memorial Circle, Antipolo’s circumferential road. A trace of this old railway line may be found in this previous post. […]

  3. Ian Absalom Letada y Cabuena says:

    There is still hope for these extinct railway lines to be resurrected once again 🙂 Since many of these extinct tracks were converted into neighborhood streets or highways, The Government can actually revive them; lay new rails on these old abandoned routes and bring them back into operation once again (if only the Government willingly prioritizes the reconstruction of these historical railway lines; and also the relocation for squatter families who’d took residence beside those routes).

    • d0ctrine says:

      That should be true for ROW under the PNR (i.e., those whose titles are still with the PNR). These include the MLN and MLS alignments as well as the spur line to Batangas. Sadly, government has allocated little resources for the recovery and/or security of these lands much less the upgrading of tracks and acquisition and maintenance of rolling stock. Perhaps the newly minted study out of the PPP Center will eventually help resurrect regional and long-haul railways in the country but that too will take time to realize.

  4. Meow says:

    The Antipolo Station building and its bullet riddled ticket booth still exists today, at the corner of Sumulong Circle and San Jose St. near Suva’s Resort.

  5. Meow says:

    Aside from Antipolo and Hinulugang Taktak, the Marikina station still exists, located at Shoe Avenue near H. Roxas st.

  6. meow says:

    More remnants and the right of way of the Guadalupe-Antipolo Line photos here.

  7. meow says:

    The front of the Antipolo station building, taken last May 2016.

  8. […] What if Manila retained its old railway lines? […]

  9. […] what is now still called Daang Bakal. Those comments and links to photos may be found under the post on old railway lines […]

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