JAMAICA’S government in 1992 suspended all rail services on its 147 year old network. At the time only 206 of the 330 route-km was in use, and that was suffering badly from neglect and lack of maintenance. Inevitably, this was the cue for vandals to damage or destroy many of the assets of Jamaica Railway Corp.
We are delighted to learn that the government has now acknowledged the error of its ways by electing to leave the tiny group of uncivilised states who have abandoned their rail services.
The Land Transport Unit informs us that ’the Government has recognised the potential benefits of a self-sustaining railway to national growth and development. It has consequently taken the decision to resume operations of the system.’
The National Investment Bank of Jamaica has been charged with the noble task of revitalising the railway and ’co-ordinating privatisation efforts’. Rail India Technical & Economic Services has been enlisted to conduct a feasibility study.
The LTU says that early indications suggest the railway will be profitable if efforts are concentrated on freight, and ’viability is anticipated with the system realising a profit after three years. The government has committed itself to the revitalisation of the Railway and anticipates initiation of the process before the end of the year. With appropriate technical expertise and management, the Railway will be transformed into a rewarding investment for the prudent investor.’ We wish them every success. o