State-run Philippine National Railways said Monday it expects before the end of March to sign an agreement with a subsidiary of Manila Electric Co. and International Container Terminal Services Inc. to revive the Manila-Calamba cargo train.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said PNR was awaiting a legal opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel on the non-exclusive track usage agreement with MRail Inc. and ICTSI.
PRN general manager Joseph Allan Dilay said the agency expects to sign the agreement before the end of March.
The agreement with MRail and ICTSI was earlier set for signing in January, but was deferred due to the right-of-way issue raised by Philippine Ports Authority.
MRail, whose primary business focus is rail investments, operations and maintenance and technical services, has formed a strategic alliance with ICTSI, a leading international port operator, to revive and run the cargo freight service in the country.
ICTSI, which used to operate the rail line for cargo from 1998 to 2002 from Manila to Calamba, operates Manila International Containers Services.
Under the agreement, MRail will operate a freight train service in the existing PNR tracks or a minimum of eight round trips per day with an average daily container transfer of 600 TEUs from the to the ICTSI-owned Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal and vice versa.
MRail assured no interference in the PNR commuter service plying the Tutuban-to-Alabang route. It will be running the freight train 24-hours a day.
MRail president and chief executive Ferdinand Inacay MRAIL earlier said the project would help the economy and resolve the congestion at the Manila ports.
“It’s a good project, we voluntarily propose it to bring some relief on the congestions that we are all experiencing in the road. It’s going to be a game-changer, but just like what they said, maybe good things will have to wait a little bit longer,” Inacay said.
He said the company would build tracks inside the MICT to connect to Tutuban Station in the existing PNR line.
“It will be the same model. It will be a joint undertaking between MRail and ICTSI,” he said.
Inacay sees no issues about the project, saying ICTSI has the obligation on developing the port under the concession area.
“ICTSI owned the property and we are developing it,” he added.
Inacay said MRail planned to spend about P900 million to acquire three cargo trains and P300 million to construct tracks to connect MICT to Tutuban station of PNR.
PNR, meanwhile, allotted over P300 million to build new tracks exclusive for the cargo train.
The existing PNR system provides an attractive and alternative mode to transport containerized cargoes. The system can effectively alleviate traffic in the major Manila arteries while at the same time give truckers a shorter turnaround time, thus, creating more trips per truck per day.