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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Local group offers to turn rail assets into logistics hub

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A local consortium led by Philtrak Inc. chairman and chief executive Francis Yuseco offers to transform the idle rail tracks of the Philippine National Railways into a new mass transit and logistics hub to resolve the traffic congestion and high prices of commodities in the country.

Yuseco, 78, said in a presentation at the Grand Hyatt Residences in Taguig City Wednesday the proposed mass transit system and farm-to-market digital logistics integrated backbone would maximize the country’s patrimonial assets, particularly the 1,079 kilometers of PNR railways in Luzon and the Panay Railways and convert them into “powerful daily cash machines”.

Yuseco, a former investment banker and inventor, said his group is in talks with local and international banks to fund the project that would initially involve 85 kilometers of railways between Tutuban, Manila and San Pablo City in Laguna and the decommissioned Panay railways in the Visayas.  He said the project would not require massive and continuing taxpayer subsidies.

He said the proposal involves redeveloping the unused at-grade level of the elevated North–South Commuter Railway spanning at least 30 meters in width into a new transit system using European Road Trains and the hybrid electric road transit designed by the Department of Science and Technology.  The proposed articulated bus train will occupy five meters on each side of the railway, while the remaining open spaces will be utilized for housing, logistics, public markets and post-harvest facilities with transit stations along the way.

The group also proposed that the reengineered and fortified at grade level patrimonial wall of the PNR be renamed as Fort Bagong Pilipinas.

Philtrak teamed up with local companies such as AirSpeed International Freight Forwarders, the logistics arm of the SM Group, Filipino innovators and the DOST for the project that would also have warehousing, tourism, waste-to-energy and commercial components.

“This would liberate our farmers and fisher folks from centuries of dehumanizing poverty,” said Yuseco.

The unsolicited public-private-partnership project will use Philippine patented software, hardware, industrial design and technology, he said.

Yuseco describes the project as a Filipino concept that could be replicated globally, especially in countries with large network of decommissioned railways such as the United States.


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