Calamba-Batangas freight train project set for feasibility study

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Meralco subsidiary MRAIL Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the local government of Batangas to carry out a feasibility study on extending the company’s freight train project from Calamba, Laguna to Batangas International Port (BIP).

The extension to Batangas port is part of MRAIL’s vision to interconnect major ports in Luzon, including those in Manila and Subic.

“The proposed MRAIL Freight Project, in partnership with Government and private sector partners, offers the potential of helping spur economic growth in the province and providing more jobs to the people of Batangas,” MRAIL chairman Oscar S. Reyes, who is also Meralco president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The Batangas Container Terminal, operated by Asian Terminals Inc., is a major trading hub in Southern Luzon. Located inside the Batangas International Port, the 15-hectare container terminal handles over 300,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) annually.

“In line with my vision for a ‘Rich Batangas’, I welcome any viable partnership with the private sector especially those that promote people’s welfare and social awareness. This is in line with my H.E.L.P. program that aims to promote livelihood opportunities without sacrificing environmental protection and institutionalizing skills development as part of continuing education,” Batangas governor Hermilando Mandanas said.

The feasibility study will look into the alignment of tracks as well as the viability of Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) right-of-way.

“We are very thankful for the support of the Batangas LGU [local government unit] on this project. Batangas is an integral part of the country’s port system as it is one of the most mature ports in the country,” MRAIL president and CEO Ferdinand G. Inacay said.

MRAIL has a proposal with PNR to operate a freight train from Tutuban in Manila to the Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal in Calamba and eventually to Batangas.

The project aims to provide the seamless transportation of containerized cargoes by moving them via railway instead of over roads. MRAIL said this will help improve traffic flow by reducing the number of cargo trucks by 300 to 600 daily.

This is part of the modernization and expansion program of PNR to integrate a cargo rail system to its service.

MRAIL earlier said it had revived talks with PNR after the new set of officials and board of directors were completed in May.

“We are in close coordination with the PNR and right now we are just ironing out a few details to get the project started within the year,” Inacay said.

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net