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ge locomotivePNR TAPS GE TRANSPORTATION TO UPGRADE - Philippine National Railways (PNR) General Manager  Engr. Joseph Allan Dilay (center, seated), flanked by Miescorrail President Jesus Francisco (right) and Desco Inc. President Sherwin Mendiola (left) sign the contract for the rehabilitation of the three PNR locomotives recently. Standing behind them are (from left): G.E. Philippines President and CEO Jocot de Dios, PNR Assistant General Manager Atty. Diosdado Silva, PNR Manager, Rolling Stock Maintenance Department Manager Engr. Ruben Besmonte, U.S. Embassy Trade Commissioner Jim McCarthy, PNR Chairman of the Board Manuel Torres, G.E. Transportation North and Southeast Asia President and CEO Mohammed Butt, and G.E. ASEAN CEO Stuart Dean.

The long-delayed modernization of the state-owned train system is now in motion.

The Philippine National Railway (PNR) is upgrading its locomotives through a contracted consortium consisting of Meralco's subsidiary Miescorrail and Desco Inc., an energy sector servicing firm.

This will be PNR's first major upgrade to its 26 diesel engine locomotives since its acquisition in 1992. PNR officials and the consortium marked the milestone partnership with a ceremonial contract signing at the Shangri-La Makati Hotel.

PNR operates a dozen and modernizing its fleet allows PNR to provide more reliable and better performing train service to the public with Metro Manila, its suburbs and the Bicol region, according to Dilay.

The signing was attended by other officials from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), PNR, Miescorrail, Desco, and General Electric (GE), PNR's locomotive engine supplier. The United States Embassy Trade Commissioner Jim McCarthy was also present as the event signified the renewal of business ties between the Philippines and the US in rail transportation industry.

Dilay stated during the ceremony, "This GE locomotive modernization and upgrade project is a significant milestone in our journey to become a progressive national railway company."

"The modernization will greatly help in sustaining the Bicol Express," explained Dilay, referring to the famous name of the train service to Southern Luzon. "Currently, we only have two trains for that service, one going from Manila to Bicol and one going from Bicol to Manila. If one of the trains has mechanical difficulties, the service to our customers is disrupted. This deal allows us to add a backup train to avoid a potential service disruption for our customers."

Dilay expressed confidence that Miescorrail and Desco, with GE's support, will provide PNR quality service.

"We're very happy to participate in any effort that will propel rail transportation forward," Francisco said. He followed by stressing that upgrading the railway system is one way to help solve the road traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

The deal involves the disassembly of two of the three locomotives in the first quarter of 2015. The diesel engines will be shipped to a GE facility for a complete upgrade – including the installation of the GE BrightStar computerized engine control system, according to Francisco. Other parts of the locomotives, including brakes and alternators, will be repaired in the Philippines by Miescorrail and Desco engineers.

Af ter these upgrades, the engines will be shipped back to the Philippines, reassembled, and delivered to PNR. The third engine will then follow the same procedure. Modernizing all three engines is expected to be finished by the end of 2015. Jocot de Dios, CEO of GE Philippines, praised the rehabilitation project saying, "It signals the government's commitment to improve the transportation infrastructure – especially at a time when the public needs alternative forms of transportation."