Train System during Turn-of-the-Century Manila


The construction of the Estacion General de Tutuban became an Industrial Age landmark in Tondo, Manila during the turn of the century. This stone and steel structure served as the general station of the Manila-Dagupan Railroad, the first railway system in the Philippines.   

In 1887, The Manila Railway Company commissioned the Fleming Company to help build its 196 kilometer line that went through the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan and finally Dagupan. The station’s cast iron parts were imported from England. The estimated travel time from Manila to Dagupan took about eight hours at the speed of 33 kilometers per hour.  

National Museum Director Corazon Alvina described the accommodation and types of services available during the train system’s heyday. According to Alvina, “fare for the first six kilometers (Manila to Caloocan) cost 20 centavos on first class, 15 centavos on second class and seven and a quarter on third. One-way Manila-Dagupan fares were 6.47 pesos for first class, 4.73 pesos for second class, and 2.58 pesos for third. Compartments were available for first and second class. Children under the age of three were transported free but to be carried by accompanying adults. Children aged three to nine were charged half the price.


Tickets, which were valid only for the date and train indicated, had to be bought before boarding at the stations; the ticket window closed five minutes before the train departed. Luggage had to be presented, checked and billed when ticket was purchased. Carry-on bags were allowed so long as were small and did not present any physical danger to other passengers. Fees were charged for excess baggage.


A special train could also be arranged, consisting of one-first class coach, a box car for baggage, and a platform car. Travelers paid what the train might have collected on a regular run, but they could not exceed the seating capacity of the coach. Transport of cadavers was possible, at the same tariff as personal property, or 78.40 pesos per wagon.


Merchandise was moved by train at the rate of 29.40 per kilo from Manila to Dagupan. The transport of livestock, also from Manila to Dagupan was reckoned at 5.88 pesos per head, but loading capacity per wagon was very specific. Dogs were transported as factura, accompanied baggage, in the same train as their owners, at 10 centavos per 50 kilometer per dog. The trains also carried conveyances: a carriage with two wheels, for 11.72 pesos; with four wheels at 21.56 pesos.” 



Today, the old train station was restored to its charming semi-Victorian Neoclassical architecture of the1880s. It houses the Tutuban Center Mall. No train runs through its tracks. Historians points to the Tutuban Railroad Station as a guidepost where the Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio was born. His statue was erected at an open plaza in front of the building to mark where Bonifacio first saw the light of day.   



Related Link: The Railways in Philippines History


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hope that the railways in Manila and throughout the country is part of Pres. Noynoy’s priorities.

    Glad to know that railways were already been built in the 1800’s in the Philippines. It’s ridiculous that I knew this info only after my trip to Europe.

  2. to come up with the most prestigeous undertaking is to bring back our old historical landmark, landsacape and historical sites and building. the realization of this is to have a strong and straight political will. the government should start a first step towards PHILIPPINE CULTURAL REVITALIZATION AND TO REVIVE PRIMARILLY THE WHOLE AESTHETIC OF OUR OLD CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING.


  3. The construction of the first railway in the Philippines is one of the significant event in our history Brad. Historical events and places need to be promoted and highlighted.

    Thank you for visiting. Hope to hear from you again.

  4. Hi there,
    Very interesting post, it is always great to see a blog site recognising the importance of the Philippine railways.

    Brad Peadon
    Philippine Railway SIG

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