DOTr studies freight train service linking Manila and Northern Luzon dry port

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DOTr studies freight train service linking Manila and Northern Luzon dry port
Map from SYSTRA Philippines.
  • A freight train service that will connect the Port of Manila to a dry port in Northern Luzon is on the sights of the Department of Transportation
  • The 27-kilometer freight rail service connects the Port of Manila to Balagtas, Bulacan, according to a feasibility study dated December 2019
  • Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said the North Philippine Dry Port Container Rail Transport Service is “another important rail project” that will carry containerized cargoes and farm products to and from Northern Luzon
  • The service will complement a plan by International Container Terminal Services, Inc to build a dry port in Northern Philippines to service the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, and Tarlac, among other areas
  • There are plans to eventually connect the dry port container railway to the Subic-Clark Railway

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is studying a freight train service that will link the Port of Manila to a dry port in Northern Luzon, according to Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista.

The North Philippine Dry Port Container Rail Transport Service, which Bautista considers as “another important rail project”, will carry containerized cargoes and agricultural shipments going to and from Northern Luzon.

In a keynote speech at the recent Clark International Airport: Emerging PH Gateway to Trade and Logistics conference and exhibit, co-organized by PortCalls and Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Bautista said a feasibility study commissioned by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for the project is ongoing.

Consulting and engineering firm SYSTRA Philippines in April 2019 bagged from NEDA the contract to carry out a feasibility study for the proposed cargo railway system. SYSTRA said the project, signed with joint-venture partner MRail Inc., aims to determine the most suitable location for an inland port within Central/Northern Luzon, and its link to Manila port.

According to a feasibility study dated December 2019 by SYSTRA, the 27-kilometer service will connect the Port of Manila to Balagtas, Bulacan.

The terms of reference for the bidding also cited International Container Terminal Services, Inc. eyeing to build a dry port in Northern Philippines to service the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, and Tarlac, among other areas.

To complement such an initiative, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) would establish a container rail transport service to move containerized cargo to and from Manila port and the dry port.

In the December 2019 project sheet, SYSTRA said the North Philippine Dry Port Container Rail Transport Service corridor is divided into two major sections: the Port of Manila Branch Line, connecting the Port of Manila to the PNR mainline; and the PNR Mainline North Segment 1 from Manila to Balagtas, Bulacan, which will become part of the PNR North Luzon railway network.

Freight terminals will be built on each side of the corridor, including the proposed Balagtas Dry Port, which will provide services for containerized cargo and agribulk going to and from Northern Luzon.

The initial facilities to be built at the Balagtas Dry Port will include a shunting yard, railhead, rail maintenance workshop, and customs inspection yard. In the future, the area may be further developed to include private empty depots, expanded customs area and distribution centers.

PNR general manager Junn Magno in February 2021 said the project was on the proposal stage with its feasibility study still being undertaken. Magno said there was a plan to eventually connect the dry port container railway to the Subic-Clark Railway. –  Roumina Pablo

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