Jamaica News: Plans by the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) to revive the railway passenger service are advanced.
“We are in the last phase of completing an arrangement with a private consortium, which will take over 34 kilometres of our right of way and rails, improve and relay the tracks, buy their own engine and coaches, and maintain the equipment and tracks,” Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, announced.
Additionally, he said the consortium will pay a royalty per passenger for the permit they will be provided by the JRC to undertake the operation.
Minister Montague was making his contribution in the 2019/20 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 4.
He noted that the service is expected to commence on the Montpelier to Catadupa leg in St. James as a tourist attraction, and eventually extended to Appleton in St. Elizabeth.
“In addition, the stops along the route will have Jamaican businesses, hairdressers, vendors and craft people, all from the immediate community… no big chain stores,” Mr. Montague said.
He added that these stakeholders are being facilitated because “we want to put life back into these communities”, while advising that “we are in the process of also identifying and training these people”.
The Minister said repairs on buildings along the targeted routes to be utilised for various engagements will commence shortly, with a maintenance facility slated to be established in Montpelier.
“They are now looking at starting a railway museum, food court, Kiddies Park, and other attractions, so that while we wait on the final approval from the agency, the people can benefit,” Mr. Montague further informed the House.
Meanwhile, the Minister advised of plans by the Government to introduce a school train service from Old Harbour to Spanish Town and Spanish Town to Linstead in St. Catherine.
“The technical requirements are here and the expertise is in-house. What we need is some funds and I am confident that when our discussions with the Ministry of Finance are complete, we will know if we will start one leg, then the next, or both at once,” Mr. Montague said.
He added that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) will provide buses on a special route, to sync with the trains.
“The service will get our children off the streets of Spanish Town early, and it is safe and reliable. As we improve the roadways, people will buy more cars and, eventually, the gridlock on our roads will continue. That is why we are encouraging a proposal to provide an elevated light rail service in Kingston and Portmore,” he stated.
Source: JIS News