In what is expected to be a fillip for Jamaica’s tourism industry, trains could soon start rolling again in the western end of the island. The popular Appleton Estate will be among the stops.
“They want to be able to carry tourists from Montego Bay, get into Montpelier, Ipswich and Appleton and then take the tourists on a tour of Appleton Estate,” said Transport Minister Audley Shaw.
One of the options being considered is a shared-use arrangement that would see an operator of the Montego Bay to Appleton train pay a rental fee for the use of the lines to provide the service within Jamaica’s tourism industry.
A potential investor has made a formal application to the Government of Jamaica to operate that first leg of the project, with the second phase — from Montego Bay to Montpelier — to come on stream later.
Shaw said the reactivation of the Montego Bay to Appleton Estate service is part of the Government’s thrust to resurrect the railway service across the island. The trains stopped rolling across the country 30 years ago.
The minister said that the initial thinking was to lease the line to the interested company. However, a shared-use system is favoured, similar to the arrangement that now obtains with the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) and the bauxite companies that utilise the railway lines to transport bauxite.
This shared-use arrangement, Shaw noted, has been in place for many years.