The train service to the southern region (from which the famous spicy dish was named after) is back. Chugging and snaking its heavy metal body through a 10- to 11-hour track ride, the Bicol Express makes a formidable competitor to the lazy boy bus rides and the quick plane trips.
Offering three types of service, commuters to Naga City can choose to ride in a reclining seat (Php548.00), a family sleeper (Php665.00) or an executive sleeper (Php998.00). Seeing that it was cheaper than a bus ticket (for the just-concluded CamSur International Marathon weekend), we tried the reclining coach going to Naga and the regular or family cabin on the way back to Manila.
It did not disappoint.
Although I was expecting a grander albeit newer exterior, the train’s interiors are clean, spacious and well-lit.
The reclining seats are located at the last two coaches with a 50 – 60 passenger capacity. It has overhead baggage cabins and one LCD TV. The leg room is wide (I could stretch my legs!) and the seat’s back reclines to almost 300 degrees.
The sleeper cabins are located at the first two coaches with one cabin good for four people. It has double decked beds sized roughly 2 by 7 (feet). It is long enough for you to place your baggage inside. For privacy, each bed has thick curtains secured by velcro tapes. Once drawn, you can use the bedside light to freely move around inside.
Toilets are located between coaches two and three with one cubicle each for men and women. A wash basin is located outside each cubicle.
Passengers can board the Bicol Express at Tutuban, Espana, Pasay Road and Alabang. Provincial stopovers are Lucena, Hondagua, Tagkawayan, Ragay, Sipocot and Libmanan. For tickets and helpful information, best to call the PNR seat reservation hotline at +632 319 0044 or 319 0041 local 104.