My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Mike Henry's Railway Revival means Wi-Fi and Bamboo Train Carriage seats by September 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How Mike Henry's Railway Revival means Wi-Fi and Bamboo Train Carriage seats by September 2016

“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. 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”

Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry on his plan to restart the JRC (Jamaica Railway Corporation)

The JRC (Jamaica Railway Corporation) may soon be in private hands, possibly Chinese.

This as Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry has plans for a public-private partnership to restart the JRC as reported in the article “Public-Private Partnership being Explored for Rail Service”, published March 16, 2016 by Peta-Gay Hodges, The Jamaica Information Service.

This is obvious huge news as it came in both the Jamaica Observer as well as the Jamaica Gleaner.

This would be a part of his multi-modal approach for transportation in Jamaica. This would involve Trains, Aeroplanes and buses merged with the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation) in one complete islandwide transportation system making 15 minutes the minimum travel time to anywhere in Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “JUTC and the Downtown Municipal Transport Centre - Planes, Trains & Automobiles”.

It would also involved the established of an airport at Vernamfield in Clarendon as well as in St. Thomas, the main reason why this caught my eye as noted in the article “Minister to Pursue Multi-Modal Transport System”, published March 15, 2016 by O. Rodger Hutchinson, The Jamaica Information Service.

It would also present an opportunity to provide transportation to the housing developments in the Old Harbour who aren't near to the Highway 2000.

So if he's planning to revive the railways, what form will it take?

Henry's Multi-Modal Plan - How Omar Davies Killed The JRC before it left the Station

Railways are clearly necessary for the trans-shipment of heavy cargo that cannot travel on Highway 2000, as there are limited to what the Highway can handle. His plan is for the revival of his multi-modal transport system, which involves all modes of transport in Jamaica being organized under a single umbrella is not a new idea.

Back when the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) was still in power he'd actually relaunched the JRC in April 2011 as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaican Transport Sector and Railways - The Money Train is Coming with Senator Mike Henry”.

Their plan was for the refurbished JRC trains painted in Jamaica Colours to service the following routes:

1.      Kingston to Spanish Town
2.      Spanish Town to Linstead
3.      Linstead to May Pen
4.      May Pen to Scott’s Pass

It would have travel for Clarendonians, particularly market sellers and Farmers from Clarendon as well as School Children travelling Kingston easier as envisioned in my blog article entitled “JRC, Scotts Pass and Senator Mike Henry – Molly Wood Keeping up with the Kardashians”.

Freight would make up the bulk of traffic back into the island’s interior, thereby making the Railway profitable. The plan was to use LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) to fuel the trains instead of Diesel or Bunker C Oil, thus making it cheaper to run as predicted in my blog article entitled “JRC Trains and JUTC Buses coming in Fourth Quarter of 2011AD - Fifth Dimension's Up, Up and Away”.

However, his idea got shot down when the JLP lost the election in December 2011 and the PNP (People's National Party) came into power as noted in the article “BLOWOUT: PNP 41 - JLP 22”, Published Friday December 30, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The then Minister of Transport and Mining Omar Davies killed the Railway along with the multi-modal approach a chronicled in my blog article entitled “Why Minister Omar Davies killed the JRC Passenger Train Service and Islandwide JUTC Bus Service”.

He instead focused on making the JUTC profitable in the KMTR Region alone, with the JRC Chairman Joseph A. Matalon at a PAAC (Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee) in December 2013 recommending that the JRC be divested as noted in my blog article entitled “JRC Chairman Joseph A. Matalon recommends divestment of the Jamaica Railway Corporation”. 

JRC Train Revival - Why Wi-Fi and Train Carriages and seats made of Bamboo by September

Interestingly, it's the same JRC Chairman Joseph A Matalon that floated a proposal since December 2015 to revive the Railway services, a move that the Bauxite Mining companies support as noted in the article “The train is coming… again”, published Sunday, December 13, 2015 by Gorgette Beckford, The Jamaica Observer

This would consist of three (3) phases:

1.      The Rum Train
2.      Bauxite area to Spanish Town
3.      Spanish Town to Kingston

Matalon's idea is to include an Appleton Estate to Montego Bay route lasting a little over two-and-a-half hours, 4 hours if the train stops, for tourists to enjoy the scenery. The Bauxite companies would handle the Bauxite area to Spanish Town facilitating their transportation of Bauxite.

The Spanish Town to Kingston leg, originally a part of Mike Henry's Multi-Modal plan back in April 2011, would see the return of passenger service. Good to note that Mr. Matalon proposes the coaches, specifically those on the Rum Train route, be made of Bamboo, not metal, base on advice of a consultant quote:  “An English consultant informed us that the undercarriages are in excellent condition. A smart investor could take those undercarriages, remove the super structure… replace them with bamboo coaches to attract tourists”.

Once the Ministry of Tourism is on board with this plan, with freight as part of the mix with Private sector support, it'll work. Hopefully they'll make all the trains use Bamboo seating, not just the Rum Trains, as the Bamboo farmers of Peckham, Clarendon would be immensely pleased as noted in my blog article entitled “Bamboo Farming in Peckham, Clarendon – How Bamboo Farming boosts Clarendon Farming via Export of VAP”. 

I just hope that this time around, the Multi-Modal Transport concept inclusive of Trains, buses and Aeroplanes will really be coming and with Wi-Fi and fares paid using Digicel Mobile money by September 20-16 as noted in my blog article entitled “Why JUTC Wi-Fi by September 2016 means Digicel Mobile Money launch imminent”.

So is this the plan Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry is alluding to when he says, quote: “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”.

It would be great to see the JRC Restored to its former glory, fulfilling Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry dream and connecting all of Jamaica in one unified Transport system made up of Trains, buses and Aeroplanes.

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