Letters to the Editor

Water and wind can resurrect passenger trains in Jamaica

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I've seen people rejoicing because of the setbacks of passenger trains in Jamaica. The folks who are rejoicing or beating down Mike Henry's vision should come with solutions. If Jamaica is really serious about economic growth and productivity passenger trains must be a part of those plans.

The use of petroleum oil to run our trains in Jamaica is just not viable due to its expensiveness. The use of coal, even though cheap, is also not viable due to environmental concerns. The use of liquefied natural gas for trains is not a bad option, but for the long term it is not viable due to the future expense associated with that form of energy. The solution for our railroad service here in Jamaica is either hydro-powered or wind-powered passenger trains.

In September 2016 French transit company Alstom announced that Germany, at the end of 2017, would be the first country to have hydrogen-powered passenger trains. Hydo-powered trains are already used in countries like Japan, India and China, but for production, and not passenger travel purposes. From what I've gathered, a hydrogen fuel tank is placed on the roof of the train, which gives energy to it to produce electricity to run the trains. This ought to be investigated as the cheapest form of energy is water, which we are not short of — do not say a word, National Water Commission.

Wind-powered passenger trains remain a viable option due to our situation, even though this form of energy is considered expensive. As of today, 100 per cent of trains in the Netherlands are powered by wind. This was made possible by the national railway company, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, and a Dutch electricity campany, Eneco.

I strongly believe the Jamaica Railway Authority and the transport ministry should have dialogue with the Jamaica Public Service, Jamaica Private Power Company, Jamalco, and Wigton Wind Farm, or even try to seek the services of Alstom and Eneco.

People may argue that these advanced train models are too expensive. Some may even say that our railroad network will have to be upgraded to accommodate these advanced train models. No contest here. However, this route, in the long run, will be cheaper than the petroleum route we are trying to resurrect.

Teddylee Gray

Ocho Rios, St Ann


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