Port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. and a subsidiary of Manila Electric Co. will invest P10 billion over two years to revive a container rail service from Manila to Calamba, Laguna, an executive said Wednesday.
Ferdinand Inacay, president and chief executive of Meralco’s MRail, told reporters the two companies revived an agreement with the Philippine National Railways to operate a rail cargo between the ports of Manila and an inland container terminal facility in Laguna, which is operated by ICTSI.
“The indications that we’ve got from the new administration is positive. We are just sorting out three minor issues on the project. [But] these are not show stopper,” Inacay said.
The consortium will raise P2.7 billion out of the projected total cost of P10 billion for the initial phases of the project.
“We are optimistic that things will happen in the next 100 days,” Inacay said.
ICSTI operated cargo trains transporting containers from the port of Manila to Laguna using the PNR tracks from 1998 until it was discontinued in 2003.
PNR deferred the signing of non-exclusive track usage agreement with MRail and ICTSI in January 2016, after the Philippine Ports Authority raised issues on right of way.
Under the agreement, MRail will operate a freight train service along the existing PNR tracks or a minimum of eight round trips per day with an average daily container transfer of 600 twenty-equivalent units from the ICTSI-owned Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal and vice versa.
The railway cargo project will involve rehabilitating the existing PNR tracks, restoring the Tutuban to the Port of Manila tracks that traverse through the center of C.M. Recto Ave. and the construction of a stabling yard in Calamba for the container trains. The company will also acquire eight locomotives and 120 trains.
It will take two years to implement the project.
Once operational, the railway cargo project is expected to ease port congestion at the ports of Manila. It will speed up flow of cargoes into a central trans-shipment hub connected from the port and closer to the inland destination.
Inacay also said that MRail planned to connect Manila ports to Clark, Subic ports to Clark and Laguna to Batangas ports via railways.
He said MRail was also seriously looking at submitting an unsolicited proposal to develop a railway project in Mindanao.
“We are talking to potential partners to look at the Mindanao Rail Project,” Inacay said.
President Rodirgo Duterte said during his first State of the Nation Address his government would pursue rail projects in Metro Manila and in major key-points in the country including the Mindanao Rail Project.