Freight Rail

Manila operator turns to ‘inland port’

Manila container terminal. Photo: Creative Commons / Theurbanhistorian

The operator of a Manila shipping terminal will utilise rail to operate an ‘inland port’, in an effort to deal with congestion.

International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) has started development of its inland dry port as it seeks to alleviate the congestion that has reduced throughput at its flagship Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

The logistics terminal, 56km inland from MICT, will be linked by an existing rail connection that is being revived to transport containers.

ICTSI first introduced intermodal transport in the Philippines when it offered container transport service by rail in the late 1990s.

It divested the business in 2003 due to a slowdown in the container market in southern Luzon.

But the improving Philippine economy in recent years has resulted in increased container traffic, prompting ICTSI to re-open the Laguna dry port to support the growing volumes.

“Once everybody starts using [the inland port], we can expect even better productivity levels at MICT,” ICTSI vice-president Christian Gonzalez said.

“Most importantly, the whole economy will benefit from this project.”

The dry port’s current annual capacity of 250,000 TEU* in effect increases MICT’s capacity by 10%.

ICTSI said the new facility would help lower MICT’s import inventory, average import dwell time and laden yard utilisation by offering storage services to clients in southern Luzon.

The port of Manila recorded a decrease in container volumes last year as congestion at the port took its toll on operations.

The congestion, which caused major disruption to terminals in Manila for much of the year, caused container volumes to slide by 2.6% year on year in 2014 to 3.7m teu.

The congestion has largely been attributed to a truck ban that restricted vehicles from entering the city during peak working hours, following complaints from the business community.

The ban was lifted in September last year but terminals were left with a backlog of cargo that still needed to be cleared.

ICTSI estimated that it could take half a year to clear the backlog.


*TEU refers to Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, a standardised unit for shipping container volumes.

This article originally appeared in Rail Express sister publication Lloyd’s List.