Reconstruction of the railway has started. This is, however, met at some locations with resistance alleging rather strange reasons. Residents along the line have requested indemnization from one of the contractors employed by the railway company, citing ownership of property. In some cases, this went to a stage where the railway had to seek help from police and the judicial system in order to defend its rights. A press campaign was launched to convey the message that never had any railway property been legally transferred to private owners and that any intent to make money from the rail reconstruction would be futile. This incurred some expenditure which led the railway company into a struggle to pay all wages in May 2017, which in its turn triggered strikes. Reassurances have been issued that construction work will progress, but commencement of services on the first section Montego Bay – Appleton has been pushed back to mid-2018, about 6 months later than originally planned.
(Source: Loop Jamaica)
Hope for re-introduction of passenger traffic
There is hope for re-introduction of passenger traffic on this railway. The firm Herzog International from the USA have started rehabilitation and rebuilding of the Kingston to Spanish Town line. The continuation from Spanish Town to Linstead is already in operational condition; it had been used by passenger trains in 2011 and 2012. Current negotiations between Herzog International and the government envisage reaching an agreement according to which Herzog would rebuild the line and, in exchange, would be authorised to operate freight trains free of charge. They would also be paid a minor subsidy (a few 100k US$ per year) by the government for operating passenger trains. On top of this, Herzog International will rehabilitate a further 180 km of railway lines which means they could run freight trains on some 2/3 of the country's railway network.
Authorities have begun to remove squatter settlements on railway premises in the area of the capital city, Kingston. Some 2000 persons need relocated.
(Source: Jamaica Gleaner)
Spanish Town - Linstead
After a bit over a year, Jamaica Railway Corporation ceased operation of the passenger train between Spanish Town and Linstead in August 2012. Until December it was hoped to continue that service, however, this didn't materialise.
The reasons for this negative development are various:
The closed highway through the gorge near Bog Walk has reopened, leading to increased competition from the bus sector. On the other hand the government didn't keep their promise to rebuild and reopen the line from Spanish Town to the capital Kingston, the cause being the disastrous financial situation of the state. This makes it impossible to further subsidise rail operations. The limited train service, despite very high demand, produced a loss of JM$ 24 Mio (about € 187'000) per year. The state is forced to close or to get rid of all operations which run at a deficit. A rail service from Linstead through to Kingston could have covered its costs.
The government offers the possibility to the private sector to take over the railway and to operate it without state subsidies.
(Source: Jamaica Gleaner)