Jamaica moves to restart rail service

Jamaica RailKINGSTON, Jamaica – The government is moving to revive its railway service.

Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry says he’s exploring a public-private partnership.

The minister said that Jamaica, in adopting a modern day integrated multi-modal transport system, of which the railway is a key component, would be embracing the reality of the changing and fast-paced world.

“The railway is the most important element of transport anywhere in the world and Jamaica has the second oldest railway in the world, connecting every port in Jamaica.

“We exist in a just-in-time world where you need to deliver goods and services as early as possible, in order to be on top of the niche markets and be able to grow your economy,” he said in an interview with the Jamaica Information Service.

“This means that if the economy must grow, it must get its goods and services right there. We are therefore going to connect rail, sea and air.”

The existing railway runs from Pechon Street in downtown Kingston, to Vernamfield in Clarendon in the south of the island but not into any of the island’s two international airports.

Henry pointed out that a distinguishing feature of many modern countries is the building of underground railways to facilitate the necessary elements of connectivity.

“You must move from rail to sea to air, so the railway must be re-established,” he stressed, adding that the numerous housing developments in the southern town of Old Harbour that are not linked to the highway also present an opportunity for passenger trains.

“We should not be afraid of integrating these services to the economic development of the people and the country, so I am now exploring a railway development very urgently,” the transport minister added.