THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) has signed an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the establishment of the Philippine Railway Institute (PRI).

The DoTr said that the PRI will oversee the efficient operation and maintenance of train systems in the coming years. Training of students will start this year.

“The PRI is envisioned to become the certification and licensing body for individuals and training institutions, so that all persons that will drive trains, maintain them, up to those that will sell the tickets in our stations, have the qualifications and service-oriented mind-set that our people are entitled to expect from a fully functioning railway system,” the DoTr said in a statement.

“This is a result of our building of the subway and the Tutuban-Malolos railway. I saw that one lack in the rail system is training regarding rails,” DoTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters. He added that training in equipment maintenance will be conducted.

Mr. Tugade also signed yesterday during the Transportation Summit 2018 (Transmit) a partnership agreement between the DoTr’s railways office and the first batch of partner academic institutions: Mapua University, National University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Technological Institute of the Philippines, and University of Sto. Tomas.

The partnership aims to ensure that DoTr gains the needed technical, human and knowledge resources for the construction, operations and maintenance of the railways pipeline under the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build Program.

Track length of rail lines in the Philippines is expected to expand to 1,900 kilometers by 2022 from 77 km. currently. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo