THE railway subsidiary of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) intends to extend its freight-train project from Calamba, Laguna, to Batangas International Port, ranking company officials said late Friday.
MRail Inc. Chairman Oscar S. Reyes said his group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the local government of Batangas to carry out a feasibility study on the extension of its planned freight- train project to Batangas.
“The proposed MRail freight project, in partnership with the government and the private sector, offers the potential of helping spur economic growth in the province and providing more jobs to the people of Batangas,” he added.
MRail President Ferdinand G. Inacay said the feasibility study will look into the alignment of tracks, as well as the viability of the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) right-of-way.
The company has a proposal with the PNR to operate a freight train from Tutuban to the Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal in Calamba for about P10 billion.
Under its proposal, MRail will make use of the tracks of the PNR to transport containers to and from Calamba, Laguna and Manila. The company will pay track-access fees to the government on a per kilometer basis.
Extending it to Batangas, Inacay said, may be a viable option to further spur economic activities outside the ports of Manila and help decongest traffic in the capital.
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 annually.
“Batangas is an integral part of the country’s port system, as it is one of the most mature ports in the country,” Inacay said.
This is part of the modernization and expansion program of PNR that aims to integrate a cargo-rail system to its service.
“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.
Reyes noted this is “just part of MRail’s vision to interconnect the major ports in Luzon including Manila and Subic.”