Mike Henry Says Railway Still Feasible


The Government is closer to resuming service provided by the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) after over a decade of dormancy, according to Transport and Works Minister, Hon. Michael Henry.
In his contribution to the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday July 27, Mr. Henry said the Administration has embarked on a new policy to identify, pursue and implement bankable sub-projects which will, over time, generate sufficient income to bring financial stability to the rail company.
He alluded to a JRC-commissioned Economic Impact Assessment study undertaken by United Kingdom-based engineering consultancy firm, Halcrow Group Limited, in 2009. The study concluded that rehabilitation of Jamaica’s rail service is feasible. This conclusion, he said, supports previous JRC-commissioned studies, undertaken by entities such as China CAMC Engineering Company in 2006, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers in 2008.
The studies placed emphasis on cargo movement between Kingston and Montego Bay, and Spanish Town and Ewarton in St. Catherine, as well as tourism-related activities between Montego Bay and Appleton, St. Elizabeth.
He noted the Administration’s recognition of the challenges arising from efforts to fund a total railway rehabilitation project in the current environment, hence the decision to pursue implementation of “bankable” sub-projects.
“The rationale behind the initiative is the high net book value of the railway. It is in the nation’s interest to utilise this asset, by making incremental inputs of capital in these sub-projects,” he said.
Mr. Henry pointed out that the Ministry (of Transport) was now increasing the capacity of the JRC to effectively manage the revitalisation process, to ensure that the country benefits fully from the overall initiative. This includes generating alternative revenue sources from the railway’s rich heritage, its vast intellectual base and its uninterrupted right-of-way corridor.
He said the Administration continued to pursue avenues for privatisation or partnership of the railway and remained committed to its infrastructural rehabilitation. He said the Administration also remained receptive to proposals for restoring the system.
“It is recognised that the rail offers unique opportunities to open up new horizons, as proven in the past. Countries are now building new railways and re-opening old ones, even in the CARICOM region, because rail have always played a major long-term role in rural and urban development,” he posited.

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