Did you know Cebu used to have a train? The sudden limelight on its non-existence arose from the recent issue of heavy traffic congestion that have people angry, frustrated and worried that it might get worse. This resulted into looking for alternative means of public transportation which got people thinking about Cebu’s old railway. People are asking, “Where is it?” “What happened to it?”
Let’s start with “What was it like?”
The 57-mile railway ran all the way from up north in Danao, when it was still a town, to Argao, one of the province’s municipalities in the south. You can still see a rotunda there where the train used to go around and head southbound. The Central Station once stood where you can now find the Development Bank of the Philippines to the Cebu City Medical Center. There were 2 other train stations, one in Carcar and another in Sibonga, both in the south.
The main purpose of the train was for distribution to different parts of the province and trade of goods such as coal, abaca and sugar.
“Why did operations stop?”
What stopped it was the one thing that stopped all forms of progress - war. Some trains in the south were destroyed in guerilla warfare against the Japanese. Damage from the bombings were also reportedly so severe that the railway was beyond restoration. When the war ended, bus companies pressured the government to refrain from rebuilding the railroad to since the trains were competition.
“What did they do with what was left of it?”
The railway was abandoned and the tracks were sold to sugar companies of Iloilo and Negros. The train station in Danao wasn’t cared for and no longer exists. The one in Carcar has become a restaurant; the station in Sibonga is now the library of a public elementary school; the one in Argao is now the fire station. The Central Station, again, ceased to exist as well.
Fast forward to 2015, people are now feeling the effects of a lack of proper urban planning and vision. The difficulties experienced with the severely heavy traffic have produced the “Hybrid Electric Road Train for Cebu in 2016” and “Hopes [are] Up for Cebu BRT” (Bus Rapid Transit). This hopefully is a signal of lessons learned and the start of, not just a more attentive Cebu, but a more forward-looking one.
Photo credits: From slideshow on Youtube by karaangsugbo