MRail Inc, a subsidiary of Meralco, said on Wednesday it has resumed talks with the Philippine National Railways (PNR) to pursue its proposed Manila-Laguna Freight Train Project.
“The Freight Project has always been there. However, it was only prudent for us to wait for the appointment of the new set of Board of Directors, as well as the new GM, before we bring the project back on the table,” Ferdinand Inacay, MRail president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The project, which will revive freight service operations from the Port of Manila to the Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal, will provide an alternative mode of transport for cargoes moving to and from Southern Luzon.
“We remain optimistic that the Freight 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,” Inacay said.
The freight service is expected as well to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis by utilizing the train in moving 300 to 600 shipping containers from the port of Manila to Calamba and vice versa.
MRail and PNR were supposed to sign a Track Usage Agreement in 2016 but deferred it pending a legal opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
However, when the OGCC issued its approval on the submitted draft MRAIL-PNR Track Usage Agreement, the 2016 National election campaign period was in full-swing and the parties were prohibited from entering into the agreement lest they violated the election prohibited acts.
Under the agreement, PNR is estimated to earn P5 billion from track usage fees alone. Once approved, MRAIL will procure new locomotives and flat wagons, construct a maintenance facility, stabling yard, and refueling facility at no cost to the government.