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PAPER NO. 1152
RARY OF THE
The Jamaica Railway — A Preliminary Survey
John F. Due
College of Commerce and Business Administration
Bureau of Economic and Business Research
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
FACULTY WORKING PAPER NO. 1152
College of Commerce and Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Jamaican Railway — A Preliminary Survey
John Due, Professor
Department of Economics
This paper provides a survey of the experience of the Jamaica Railway
Corporation, the last common carrier railway in the British Caribbean. One
of the oldest railways in the Western Hemisphere, the portion between
Kingston and Spanish Town has provided freight and passenger service for
145 years. The system was built piece-meal, the main lines not completed
until the late 1890s. The railroad has undergone a major transition over
the last fifty years. Originally it was primarily a carrier of passengers,
bananas for export, sugar cane and sugar, plus inbound general merchandise.
The development of road transport caused a sharp drop in the banana and
merchandise traffic, which was replaced by bauxite and alumina for ALCAN
and ALCOA, as the bauxite industry developed in the 1950s. As of 1985
the bauxite traffic remains the dominant source of revenue, despite decline
in bauxite production. The passenger traffic, while below the peak years,
has held up remarkably well; the traffic fluctuates primarily with the amount
of service the railroad has equipment to provide.
The railroad has consistently operated at a deficit. But it makes
substantial contribution to the bauxite industry, and its passenger
service is much cheaper and satisfactory than the mini-bus type otherwise
available. Externalities in terms of road congestion and costs of road
improvement and encouragement to economic development warrant continuation
of and improvement to the railway.
THE JAMAICA RAILWAY— A PRELIMINARY SURVEY*
John F . Due
Professor of Economics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
The Jamaica Railway is the last common carrier railway in the British
Commonwealth Caribbean, and provides an excellent example of a railway in
a developing country that has undergone drastic transformation in its freight
traffic over three decades.
The railway was initially a product of several forces, the most
important being the belief of local persons in the 1840s that a railway
from Kingston would greatly facilitate the flow of produce into the city and
of manure to the farm areas, thus increasing agricultural production. It
was also believed that the railroad would lead to the building of sugar
factories in the interior. Ironically, as history repeats itself, in the 1840s
the Governor favored the project because of the traffic congestion on tha
road between Kingston and Spanish Town. Specifically the Smith Brothers,
one a local planter, the other a Manchester, England, merchant with land in
Jamaica, were the principal promoters, The firm was incorporated in 1843,
capital raised in England, construction began in 1844, and the line completed
to Spanish Town, 14 miles, in 1845, not much over a decade after the first
commercial railroad was built in Great Britain, and only a decade after the
slaves were freed in the British West Indies. But the decline in sugar fortunes
in the late 'forties made expansion of the line impossible, and for over
20 years, all this time under Smith management, the line remained little
*The author is greatly indebted to Mrs. Betty Ann Jones-Kerr of Peat
Marwick and Mitchell, Kingston, and to Mr. Eric Shirley and Mr. Raymond
Girard, former General Managers of the Jamaica Railway Corporation, for
1. This section is based on material in The Railway in Jamaica , A Short
History, 1845-1970 , Kingston: 1970.
more than a passenger carrier "between the island's two major cities. In
I869 the line was extended to Old Harbour, an additional 12 miles, but the
financial position of the company deteriorated, and finally in 1879 the
government purchased the railroad.
Under government ownership and financial aid, the lines were extended
to Porus and to Ewarton in the 1880s, primarily because of the growing banana
and citrus production, to bring mileage to 64 by 1889. The government
ultimately, however, decided to dispose of the company to an American syndicate,
the West India Improvement Company, in the hope of seeing the lines extended
by private capital, given the financial difficulties of the government.
With the railroad in private hands and with access to foreign capital,
the system was rapidly extended. The 66 mile extension from Porus to
Montego Bay was opened in 1894, and the 64 mile line from Bog Walk, on the
Ewarton line, to Port Antonio in 1896. But traffic grew much less than the
promoters anticipated; the company defaulted on its bonds in 1898, and in
1900, once more the railroad was back in government hands. From 1900 to
1959 the railroad was operated as a government department. The early years
were plagued by a devastating hurricane, and then by the great earthquake of
1907. Increased banana production led to building of lines from May Pen to
Frankfield in 1925. During World War II, a line was built to the U.S.
military base at Fort Simonds. The rail lines are shown on Fig. 1.
Road Competition and Bauxite
The railroad was operating its maximum mileage in the nineteen thirties
and early forties; the main line Kingston to Montego Bay, the newly completed
branch to Frankfield, and the long line from Spanish Town to Port Antonio,
with the branch from Bog Walk to Ewarton. Outbound bananas, primarily to
Port Antonio, sugar and citrus were key elements in the traffic; imports
and domestic products from the Kingston area moved inbound. The passenger
traffic was substantial.
if H, 03
As of the late twenties, "bananas were the major revenue source, yielding
over 80 percent of freight revenues. While road competition began in the
1920s, it was not serious in the prewar and war years, and the fruit, sugar
cane, and sugar traffic remained important up into the fifties, as shown by
Table 1. Banana traffic was seriously reduced for a time by decline in
production, but this later recovered.
Freight Traffic by Type, 1958-1960, Jamaica Railway
Alumina and Bauxite
ns: not shown separately.
Source: U.K. Colonial Office, Annual Report on Jamaica ,
As shown in Table 2, however, by 1970 the banana traffic had
disappeared, as had a substantial portion of the commercial freight
traffic. Even before the decline in the traditional traffic, the road had
experienced substantial losses, as shown in Table 6. Had it not
been for the development of the bauxite traffic, the railway might well have
gone the route of the railway in Barbados (abandoned in 193? ) and those in other
commonwealth Caribbean islands. The first warning came in 1948, when
the Ewarton line was cut back to Linstead for lack of traffic (only to be
rebuilt in 1957 for the bauxite industry) •
The railroad was essentially saved "by the development of the "bauxite
industry. Bauxite deposits had been known to exist in Jamaica in the latter part
of the last century, but development came only after 1952. Reynolds began
to mine in the Ocho Rios area in 1952, but without access to the railway;
bauxite exported from Ocho Rios was brought to the docks by a conveyor belt.
In the same year, Alumina Jamaica Ltd., a portion of ALGAN , began to produce
bauxite and convert it to alumina at Kirkvine, and a short branch of the
railway was built from Williamsfield to Kirkvine, and from Bodies Jet. to
Port Esquivel, on the south coast, for this traffic. Then in 1957, ALGAN
build a second plant at Ewarton; the railway relaid the track from L instead
to Ewarton, and bauxite and alumina began to move on the Ewarton line to Port
Esquivel. Then in 196l, ALCOA developed mines at Woodside in the Breadnut
valley in Clarendon, and built a railway from Woodside to Rocky Point,
crossing the Jamaica Railway main line at Jacob's Hut. Jamaica Railway
operates the line for ALCOA. In 1968 Revere built an alumina plant near
Maggoty in St. Elizabeth, and used the rail line to and from the port at
Rocky Point, shipments commencing in 1971. Revere closed operations in
October 1975- Jamaica Railway is not involved in the Kaiser or Alpart
operations; Kaiser built and operates its own railway from the mines in
Water Valley to Port Rhoades on Discovery Bay, west of Ocho Rios. Alpart
(Alumina Partners, jointly owned by Kaiser and Reynolds) mines and produces
alumina at Alpart and ships over its own railrad to Port Kaiser on the
T. The bauxite industry is described in the article by Richard A.
Thomas, "Jamaica: Government Partnerships and Recent Declines Shape
Industry's Profile," g a gjnaering and Mining Journal . November 1979, pp. 98-101.
Creation of the Jamaica Railway Corporation
In I960, following a policy common in other parts of the world, the
Jamaica Railway Corporation Act was enacted, forming the Jamaica Railway
Corporation, to take over the railway. The Act read, in part:
(a) to manage and operate in accordance with this Law
the Railway hereby transferred to the Corporation and any
expansion or extension there of and any New Railway and to
provide all reasonable facilities for carriage by the Corpora-
tion of passengers and goods.
Provided that the Corporation shall not be under an obli-
gation to continue or introduce any particular service or facility
which is uneconomic, or which appears to the Corporation unlikely
to provide within a reasonable time adequate revenue to meet the
cost to the Corporation
Thus the organization was changed from a government department to a
separate semi-autonomous but government-owned statutory corporation, with
a distinct corporate structure; a government appointed chairman, a Board
of Directors; and typical railway management structure. The railway has
substantial financial and operational autonomy. This period also saw
completion of dieselization, which began in the late 19^-Os.
The fortunes of the railway since 1959 have fluctuated with the output
of bauxite and alumina, and the adequacy of equipment to meet traffic
potential. Freight traffic other than that of the bauxite industry continued
to decline; comparison of the revenues from the various types of traffic for
the 1968-70 period with those of the 1981-83 period, shown in Table 2, provide
Sources of Revenues, Jamaica Railway, 1968-70; 1981-83. Jamaica $s
1968 1969 1970 1981 1982 1983
Bauxite* 1,388,200 1,583,607 1,778,613 12,100,000 10,270,000 12,440,000
Bananas 10,750 6,533 377
freight 132,148 134,809 139, 413 210,000 200,000 230,000
Mail 6,800 6,864 7,184
Passengers 499,042 563,808 561,698 1,680,000 1,740,000 1,280,000
Total 2,120,004 2,395,692 2,575,209 13,990,000 12,210,000 13,950,000
Source: Jamaica Statistical Yearbook , 1971, 1982: Jamaica Railway Corporation ,
Percentage Distribution of Revenue, Major Sources,
Jamaica Railway, 1 968- 70, 1981 -83
* including inbound traffic for the industry.
Thus nearly 90 percent of the revenue comes from the bauxite and alumina industr
traffic; commercial freight is a very minor element, and the percentage of
passenger revenue fell roughly in half between the two periods. The banana
traffic was ending in the late sixties, before the sharp decline in commercial
freight traffic occurred in the decade of the seventies.
A Closer Look at the Passenger Traffic
Table 3 provides information on passenger traffic and passenger revenue
since 1950. Passenger miles are available for only a few years.
. K. Colonial
Report on Jamaica, various years;
, various; Planning Ins
Jamaica, 1983; Jamaica
;titute of Js
The total volume of passenger traffic has remained remarkably stable
over much of the period, close to 1 million in the entire period 1954-1976,
and rose sharply in the mid seventies with greatly improved and additional
service. Then it fell in the early eighties as the shortage of diesels made
it necessary to cut service back sharply, and the line to Port Antonio was
discontinued. Traffic rose again in 1984 close to the million mark as service
was increased again despite elimination of service from Bog Walk to Buff Bay.
The railroad has used diesel rail cars in several periods, first in the late
forties to replace 45 year old passenger cars. Then in 1962, the .railway
purchased 20 Metro Gammell rail cars, equipped with six cylinder Rolls
Royce engines. But the equipment did not stand up well under the steep
grades and sharp curves of the lines, and the cooling systems were inadequate.
Thus the wear and tear on the engines and undercarriages was excessive, and
parts proved difficult to obtain. Thus failures became common, and ultimately
the engines were removed and the cars used as passenger coaches. The quality
of the equipment was simply not adequate for the conditions.
As of 1985, two trains are operated each way daily on the main line
Kingston-Mont ego Bay. Two trains are operated each way on the Ewarton line,
and one additional train from Porus and May Pen on the main line to Kingston.
The latter are essentially commuter trains. As one illustration of traffic
potential, since passenger service was restored on the Ewarton line, it has
been carrying about 1500 passengers a day, including school children. In
the fall of 1983 service was discontinued from Bog Walk to Buff Bay.
Fares for many years were 3 J$ per mile (second class), a very low
figure. Increases require cabinet approval, which has often been slow in
forthcoming, because of the importance to the users of low fares. The basic
second class fare is (mid 1985) J0 10.6 (about two U.S. cents). The first
class fare is double the second class fare. These fares are typically much
lower than mini-bus fares; for example, in mid 1984, the rail second class
fare from Kingston to Montego Bay was $9 ($12.50 as of mid 1985), compared
to a mini-bus fare of $17.
Views differ on the profitability of the passenger service. The only
clearly profitable passenger service consists of two special elements:
1. The well-advertised "Governor's Coach" service, between Montego Bay
and Appleton station, the trains operated by the railway but the tours managed
by Jamaica Tours Ltd., a public corporation.
2. Special trains, typically operated on weekends and holidays, for
benevolent societies, social clubs, trade unions, etc.
Passenger cars are relatively modern, most acquired in the last decade.
The railway plans to improve and increase passenger service over the next
several years, and believes that the volume can be restored to the 1978 level,
which was twice that of the long period volume.
There has been substantial complaint about the decline in service and
closure of the service to Buff Bay; a feature article in the Daily Gleaner ,
July 1, 1984, was devoted to this question. Many letters have been written
to the editor, and to the railway and the Ministry, complaining about the
inadequacy and cost of the road transport, particularly in the area served
by the line to Port Antonio. ,
The Volume of Freight Traffic
It is not possible to provide a consistent picture of the freight traffic
statistics over the 30 year period 1950-1984, because the base of the series
in available form changes. However, some trends and comparisons can be noted,
as shown in Table 4. The trend in tons carried was upward, with minor
deviations from the trend, from 1950 to 1966, and the series for ton miles
4. Kingston Daily Gleaner , July 1, 1984.
continued the same trend up to 197^, the all time high in total ton miles.
This constituted about 60,000 net ton miles per mile of line, taking the
system as a whole. For the lines on which most of the traffic moved, the figure
was about 155,000 ton miles per mile of line. On the oasis of standards of
other countries, this is great enough to allow many of the economies of
scale. The 60,000 figure is relatively low, and thus suggests higher cost
per ton mile— but is substantially more than many light traffic lines in
the United States and Canada, and is not necessarily uneconomically low.
From 1979 on, the total traffic has run Somewhat lower as bauxite produc-
tion fell, except for a good year in 1977, and has become somewhat irregular.
The 1983 figure, in tons, however, is about 25% greater than the 1965 figure.
In general, therefore, the trends in total traffic are dominated almost entirely
by trends in the bauxite industry, which has not been in good financial
shape in the last decade. At times, strikes and accidents reduced the
production below expected levels. The 1984 predictions of ALCOA and ALCAN
were for increased production over the next five years. ALCOA, however, closed
its Clarendon works on February 20, 1985- In April, plans to reopen were
announced, ALCOA operating the plant, the government taking over the
marketing. ALCOA owns a 9^-percent interest, the government, 6 percent.
In addition to the outbound traffic in bauxite and alumina, the
railway carries substantial inbound traffic for the bauxite industry,
primarily oil, caustic soda, and lime.
Other Potential Freight Traffic
The extreme reliance of the railroad upon the bauxite industry places
it in a vulnerable position if production falls significantly. Accordingly
the railroad has been seeking to rebuild the general freight traffic that
it had lost over the years. There are several possibilities, in general
involving bulk commodities:
J". Based on information supplied by the railway.
Table 4. Freight Traffic, Jamaica Railway, 1950-1984
Source: U.K. Colonial Office, Annual Report on Jamaica , 1947-1961;
Jamaica Statistical Yearbook , various years; Jamaica Railway Corporation.
Sugar cane . With the closing of the sugar mill at Grey's Inn, near
Annoto Bay, there is potential for hauling substantial volumes of sugar cane
from Grey's Inn to the factory at Bernard Lodge, 2 miles southeast of Spanish
Town station, and from Innswood to Bernard Lodge. This in total could con-
stitute 320,000 tons a year.
Cement . The road has sought, so far without success, to obtain the
contract to move cement from. Kingston to Montego Bay, a potential revenue of
J $1.8 million per year.
Bottled Drinks , from Kingston to Montego Bay and other depot points.
Use of containers has been considered.
Goal . The alumina plants have been considering replacing oil by coal
for processing; this would result in a net increase in the total volume of
Containers. There is considerable potential for moving containers from
Kingston to Montego Bay and other points on the main line. The railroad
is willing to quote lower rates than the present road rates. But it cannot
handle containers without new equipment for container handling.
There are other possibilities as well, including lumber from Portland
to Spanish Town, if the Port Antonio line were rebuilt, and milk products
from Bog Walk to Montpelier, near Montego Bay (traffic the railroad retained
until 1981 when inadequate service caused the shipper to shift to road
transport) . Movement of aggregate and sand to Montego Bay is another
It is difficult to assess the likelihood of gaining this type of traffic.
Despite the usual road transport advantages on short hauls , the special
circumstances in Jamaica render use of rail a possibility. The high cost of
petroleum products, the importance of conserving foreign exchange, the very
congested condition of many roads, suggest the potential advantages of the
railway in handling "bulk traffic. But such traffic can be obtained and retaine
only with high quality service, which the railroad is now seeking to provide.
The only planned extension of track consists of lines to reach dock areas
in Kingston and Montego Bay to facilitate handling of general freight traffic.
Financing is not yet available for these.
The Railroad as of Early 1985
As of early 1985 » the railroad operates two lines and a short branch of
Kingston-Montego Bay, 113 miles
Spanish Town-Ewarton, 15 miles
Port Esquivel branch, 3 miles
In addition, it operates the 20 mile line owned by ALCOA. Classified in
a different way,' the road is operating two relatively distinct parts:
The Bauxite Triangle, Williamsfield, on the main line, to Port Esquivel,
and Ewarton to Port Esquivel via Spanish Town. This is the heavy density
portion of the system, which generates most of the freight revenue. In
addition the triangle includes the line owned by ALCOA in Clarendon from the m:
Breadnut Valley to the alumina plant in Hulse Hall and the shipping point at
The remainder of the main line, Kingston to Spanish Town and Williamsfield
to Montego Bay, operated for passenger and general freight service.
The line from Bog Walk to Buff Bay, ^3 miles, is intact but not operated,
and the portion from Buff Bay to Port Antonio, 15 miles, has been out of servic
for five years because of a two mile washout from the 1980 hurricane. The
23 mile line from May Pen to Frankfield was abandoned in 1975 • Most of the
track is in place, but the ties and ballast have disintegrated.
The line is standard guage. The maximum grade is 3-3%» Porus to Williamsf
The maximum elevation is reached at Greenvale on the main line, 1705 fee~.
There are 90 miles of level line and 112 on grade (for the whole system,
including the Port Antonio line) and very substantial curvature. There are
232 "bridges and the phenominal number of 4l tunnels; 13 on the main line,
28 on the Port Antonio line.
Equipment . As of 1985. the line has 16 MLW diesels, not all in service
because of parts shortages, and 6 Alsthom-Atlantique French built engines,
delivered in 1984, with an additional six on order. Dieselization began in
1946, but lack of funds and gre-atrr traffic required partial use of steam
locomotives well into the 1970s. The original diesels were 750 hp. English Elec-
trics. With the delivery of the last six French locomotives, the road will
have 28, with 20 available at all times for operations.
The company has a limited number of freight cars, since the cars for the
bauxite and alumina service are provided by the shippers (covered hoppers
for alumina, open hoppers for bauxite). The line has (1984) 30 usable box
cars, with 65 that could be made serviceable if necessary, 8 tanker wagons
for oil, and 6 flat cars. Attempts have been made in recent years to upgrade
maintenance of equipment.
Track . The track design has recently been reviewed with the assistance
of consultants from France. The rail is primarily 80 pound; this weight will
be retained, though some heavier rail may be used in the future. The track
will tolerate weights of 17 tons per axle. The first several miles out of
Kingston to Gregory Park (which does not have heavy freight traffic) will
use welded rail on wooden sleepers. From Gregory Park to Porus on the main
line and to Ewarton, continuous welded rail with concrete sleepers will be
used, and wood sleepers from Porus to Williamsfield. The portion from
Williamsfield to Montego Bay will be improved, particularly adzing tie
replacement, and reestablishment of cant on the rails. The line has the
necessary equipment for this work. Rail removed from the bauxite lines will
be used on this portion. Much of the reballasting and tie renewal has been
done on the bauxite lines.
Employees , Data on the number of employees are not complete for the three
decades, but those for available years give a good indication of trends, shown
in Table 5.
Number of Employees, Jamaica Railways, Selected Years
The number stayed between 1400 and 1500 for a long period of time, and
then declined with the elimination of service to Frankfield, Port Antonio,
and Bog Walk- -Buff Bay. The number of employees relative to traffic is high
compared to railroads of comparable size in the United States, but it is not
necessarily uneconomic, given wage levels, and is desirable from the stand-
point of the unemployment problem in Jamaica.
Rates . The rates for ALCOA and ALCAN traffic, which are negotiated,
are considered satisfactory by the railway. The general freight rates have
been retained at low levels. Some idea of the railway's views about potential
rate levels are indicated by 1984 proposals on bulk freight, a suggested rate
per ton mile of J 40 cents (8 US cents at present exchange rates) on sugar cane,
35 cents on bananas, 30 cents on fertilizer, 25 cents on cement, and 35 cents
The Financial Picture
Complete series are not available on the railway earnings picture, but
in most years of the last three decades, losses have been incurred. Sample
years are shown in Table 6.
Earnings of Jamaica Railways, 1946-1984
3s as Percent
Annual Report on
Institute of Jamaica,
The losses as a percentage of revenues are substantial, but no more so
in recent years than in the late 1960s and much less than in the late
'forties and 'fifties. The losses reflect failure of the revenues from the
bauxite traffic and of the passenger service (over and above passenger train
operating costs) to cover the cost of maintenance of all track and overhead
expenses of the system. The bauxite industry traffic is profitable as is
some passenger service, but together they do not cover all remaining costs.
Projections by the railway in 1984 indicate hope that the deficit can be
eliminated by 198 7.
The losses have been made up in part by outright government subsidy,
but in large measure by borrowing from the government- -though not always
called this. The accumulated loss is about J$ 35 million.
The General Picture
For several years following the peak year of 1978, the fortunes of the
railway declined. Passenger traffic fell as service was reduced and became
less reliable, and general freight declined further. Since 1983
major improvements have been made in track and through acquisition of new
equipment, and traffic has risen. But the railway is heavily dependent upon
the bauxite industry.
Out of the preliminary review in this paper come several major tentative
First, the railway is vital to the bauxite industry. Despite recent
problems of the industry, there is prospect for increased bauxite traffic.
Retention of the railway and improvements are imperative for the industry.
Secondly, the passenger service serves important functions to the persons
using it, in providing low cost transport and in lessening congestion on the
overcrowded roads. The railway has been highly successful in retaining
passenger traffic when it is able to supply adequate service.
Thirdly, the railway offers potential for shifting some of the bulk
traffic off of the roads, lessening the congestion and the hazards to
In general, the railway plays an important role in the transport field,
and in conserving foreign exchange through lessening total demand for
imported fuel. The railway is a valuable asset to Jamaica, one that is under-
utilized while roads are overutilized.
On the basis of these conclusions, several recommendations are offered:
1. The railway should most certainly be maintained, including the
entire line to Montego Bay.
2. Serious consideration should be given to restoring service from Bor
Walk to Buff Bay, and ultimately to restoring the washed out portion of the
line to allow resumption of service to Port Antonio.
3. Not only should the railway seek to develop general freight traffic,
but the government should encourage the government corporations to shift to
the railway for bulk traffic when the rates ar§ reasonable.
4. The government should take measures to ensure that foreign exchange
is available for spare parts, and for additional equipment as needed.
The basic difficulty in the way of an effective railway program is the
deficit the railroad encounters. There is great merit in seeking to reduce
this through increased traffic and through further economies in operation,
but not through significant increases in charges to the bauxite industry or
to passengers, because it is desirable to preserve as much traffic for the
railway as is economic, to hold down cost per ton mile, lessen deficits, and
maximize externality benefits. The government is of course under pressure,
internally, and by the World Bank and the IMF, to reduce expenditures
and the deficits of public corporations. But this should not be done at the
expense of services that, if eliminated, would result in increased foreign
exchange drain, increased road congestion and demands for widening the
roads--a very difficult and expensive task in much of Jamaica, and ultimately
higher overall government spending. This was recognized in the 1978-1982
Economic Plan, as shown by the statement: "the energy crisis has necessitated
a more detailed examination of its (the railroad's) potential contribution
to the transport system." (p. II; 96). The worldwide energy crisis may be
less acute in 1985 than it was a few years ago — -but this may be temporary — and
Jamaica's foreign exchange problem is no less severe.
When the railway operates justifiable services that are unprofitable, the go
ment should provide a direct grant, to lessen the reported deficit. The railway
indicated its own goals to include rebuilding of confidence in the railroad,
including general freight and passenger traffic, eliminating the operating
deficit, and improving employee relations. It is recommended that the govern-
ment facilitate attainment of these goals. At the same time the government
should for the time being recognize the deficit, and advance funds to cover
it each ^ear so long as it exists, rather than lending- -which simply builds
up the railway's debt to the government. The government should recognize
that the deficit is warranted by the contributions the system makes to the
economy and the foreign exchange situation.
The experience in Jamaica has significance for other developing
countries as well. One is the contribution that a railway can make for
passenger travel, providing more satisfactory and cheaper service than the
typical minibus service in developing countries, and, of great importance,
in lessening congestion on the roads and demand for road improvements, a
very expensive undertaking in countries such as Jamaica. But the railroad
also, despite its short hauls, demonstrates the importance of rail transport
for bulk traffic, and as a means of lessening congestion on the roads for
bulk .freight. Acceptance of deficit on a railway may in the end be far
cheaper, in terms of government spending and foreign exchange, than abandon-
ment. A deficit is not evidence of inefficiency or lack of economic
In evaluating the economic justification of continuation of a railway
line, a line is justifiable if the costs for which the line is responsible,
including a return on salvage value and on new investment in the line and
equipment as it is made, are covered by the sum of:
1. Revenues from the line.
2. The additional revenue that could be obtained if:
a. fares were raised to optimal profit levels, but
are held below these figures for equity reasons.
b. freight revenues were raised to optimal profit levels,
but are not for reasons of economic development and
encouragement of exports.
3. The externality gains from lessening of road congestion,
in the form of savings in time and frustration, and fewer
accidents, and lessened expenditures on road maintenance
k. The gains to the economy from additional employment generated.
5. The foreign exchange savings, from lessened importation of
petroleum and motor vehicles and parts, adjusted for the
foreign exchange required for the railway.
It has not been possible in this preliminary survey to quantify these elements,
but they are obviously of substantial magnitude.
. N MANCHESTER,!
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