Talks on P10B MICT-Calamba cargo rail project resume

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MRail Inc. said it has resumed talks with state-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) on the proposed P10-billion cargo rail project that will connect the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and Laguna dry port, both owned by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI).

MRail president and chief executive officer Ferdinand Inacay, in a statement, said the freight train project “has always been there.”

“However, it was only prudent that we wait for the appointment of the new set of board of directors as well as the new GM (general manager) before we bring the project back on the table,” he said.

MRail, a wholly owned subsidiary of Manila Electric Company, and PNR postponed in early 2016 the signing of a track usage agreement pending a legal opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).

“However, when the OGCC issued the approval on the submitted draft MRAIL-PNR Track Usage Agreement, the 2016 national election campaign period was already in full swing thus the parties were prohibited from entering into the agreement lest they violate the election prohibited acts,” MRail said.

Inacay said they remain optimistic that the project will push through “as the project provides very tangible value propositions to the government, the business sector particularly the importers and exporters located in the Calabarzon area and to the environment as a whole.”

“The project manifests our support to the administration’s thrust towards building more railways and we believe that this project will [complement] that goal,” Inacay added.

MRail and ICTSI earlier agreed to revive the freight train rail that will connect MICT to the Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal (LGICT), the port operator’s inland container terminal in Calamba, Laguna.

ICTSI in 1997 had operated a freight rail leading to its inland container depot in Calamba, but stopped in 2003 due to losses and competition from trucks. In 2015, ICTSI invested P660 million in developing LGICT.

The project is seen to help alleviate the traffic problem in the greater Metro Manila area and provide an alternative mode of transport for containerized cargoes moving to and from Southern Luzon.

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net