Flag of Jamaica

Railways in

Jamaica

Jamalco train
An EMD GP38-3 Bo-Bo diesel electric locomotive of Jamalco
with a train of tank wagons tranporting caustic soda, used in the bauxite refining process

The first railway in Jamaica opened in 1845 between Kingston and Spanish Town, a distance of 21km. It was built to standard (1435mm) gauge. This was gradually expanded to a network of around 220 miles (350km) serving most populated parts of the island. In addition, there were a few short, privately owned lines serving the sugar cane industry, but these had all closed by the 1980s.

The bulk of the network ceased operation in 1992. A 79km section remained in operation for the transport of alumina (processed bauxite) from works at Ewarton to Port Esquivel for shipping overseas. Trains were operated by the works owners under a lease arrangement with Jamaica Railways Corporation. A further 42km connected with works at Kirkvine. All operations ceased in 2019 with the shutdown of the Ewarton plant.

Apart from the national network, there were several independent lines related to the bauxite industry. One of these, an 18km line from Nain to Port Kaiser, closed in 2008, reopened in 2017 under new ownership, but closed again in 2019. Another line, from mines in St Jago and North Manchester to Rocky Point, a total of about 50 route km, remains open.

In April 2011, Jamaica Railway Corporation trialled a revived passenger train service from May Pen via Spanish Town to Linstead, a distance of about 64km. Regular services commenced in July, but were discontinued in August 2012.

Several proposals have since been made for the reactivation of rail services on the national network, but to date none have come to fruition.

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Photo image from the website of Jamalco

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