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Why can't we keep the trains running?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dear Editor,

Every time my hope is lifted up that Jamaica is making tangible progress as a country, by the stroke of a powerful pen those hopes are dashed.

I was so elated when the trains started running again. We inherited a rail service as an independent country, possibly the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. As a boy growing up in Kingston, I did not get the chance to ride the trains, and by the time I returned to Jamaica from living overseas the service was on its last leg before being shut down - a very vital industry in any advanced-thinking country.

So when the trains started to run again, my imagination started to run wild. I saw myself being able to drive my vehicle one day to the Kendal station in Mandeville, hopping on to a coach to Kingston to do business, linking at the train station in Kingston with a taxi, bus or a rented car, then returning on a stress-free train ride back to Mandeville.

It seems we can find money to do things with less social impact. Yet no one seems to be considering the welfare of the people most affected by the closure of the rail service, a reliable, economic mode of transportation, the reduction of traffic congestion, the savings on fuel, the lowering of the country's carbon footprint.

It is not progress to be riding on the backs of our athletes every four years whom we should emulate for their hard work and dedication to achieve excellence instead of this "eat a food" mentality. Oh, for some Robert Lightbourne bullishness in driving our industries forward. He must now be turning in his grave.

It is hoped that the Minister of Transport Dr Omar Daves and former PNP finance minister will draw on his financial wizardry and keep the trains rolling. A people lacking in vision is doomed to fail.

F Spence

Mandeville, Manchester


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