JAM | May 9, 2023

Plans underway to expand Jamaica’s railway system to adults

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

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Jamaica Railway Corporation

Discussions are currently underway to expand the commuter railway service to transport over 5,000 workers daily from Old Harbour to Spanish Town, then on to Angels, and Linstead to Angels.

The Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) commenced the operations of a student-passenger rail service in January last year for students from Old Harbour and Linstead who travel to Spanish Town. More than 78,000 students are said to have benefitted from its operations.

The announcement to expand the system was made by Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw during his contributions to the 2023-2024 Sectoral Debate today (May 9).

Minister Shaw said the discussions are being held to expand the system to support the Business Processing Outsourcing investment which is expected to come on stream shortly in Angels St Catherine.

Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw (Photo: JIS)

“The JRC is actively in dialogue with the investors and is quite optimistic that work will begin before the end of this fiscal year. The JRC is also in discussions with the World Bank to utilize grant funding to undertake feasibility studies to build out the project and revitalize a Rail Service from Kingston to Spanish Town,” said the minister.

“It is important to note that there are several studies underway to assess the demand for a commuter
service which will inform the development of a full-scale project, which will also include adult passengers. This will include a spur line interconnection for passenger and freight rail service between Spanish Town, Downtown Kingston, and Portmore, in particular, the expected Greater Bernard Lodge Development,” he added.

JRC financial standings to improve

Shaw also sought to dispel recent reports from Opposition Spokesperson Mikael Phillips that the JRC was operating at a loss and had lost $80 million for the fiscal year 2022/2023.

The transport minister said that the figures quoted by Phillips were a projected loss and not an actual loss.

“The actual loss suffered by the JRC amounted to approximately $20.09 million, which was primarily due to the initial expenditure required to undertake the execution and operations of a Pilot student-passenger rail service programme. Notwithstanding this, the JRC is strategically positioned to improve its financial performance given the number of exciting plans for the Railway over the coming months,” he said.


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