Susan Smith, Staff Reporter
Alberto Fabrini, location manager for Jamalco. - IAN ALLEN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
PASSENGER COACHES from the Jamaica Railway Corporation are now being being renovated to be used on the Clarendon Express, and the new attraction is expected to become operational later this year.
The excursion train ride under development by Jamalco offers a major boost for tourism in central Jamaica and is unusual in initially targeting the domestic travel market. This is a somewhat different concept from the Appleton Express train ride in St. Elizabeth, where the attraction is the rum distillery and the Ipswich Caves.
"From my experience, we will probably be ready by August to September," location manager for Jamalco, Alberto Fabrini, told Wednesday Business. He said the company is using June and July to complete safety and security tests.
The new attraction aims to showcase the Jamaica's bauxite and alumina industries, along with Clarendon's cultural and natural attractions to locals, as well as visitors. The first phase of the investment is projected to cost US$2.5 million ($155 million), with most coming from other investors.
Jamalco is investing $31 million over a three-year period into the project. It is now using a quarter of this sum to renovate the coaches.
"There are a lot of technical repairs to be done," said Mr. Fabrini. The renovation process included both engineering work for the train and the refurbishing of three 50-seater passenger coaches.
The bauxite and alumina-producing company last month proposed the introduction the Clarendon Express as a means of developing domestic tourism in Jamaica's south. The Clarendon Express will cover the distance from Rocky Point to Breadnut Valley in Clarendon.
It will encompass a 20-mile ride along Jamalco's railway system, showcasing the company's Whitney Estate and Halse Hall great house along with its bauxite and alumina operations.
The success of the proposals depends on collaboration with other private investors. Mr. Fabrini said there has been some "expression of interest from business leaders and we are working on how the funds will be allocated."
Jamalco does not expect to make a profit from the venture. The company has stated that it is part of its effort to create social and economic stability for the communities around Jamalco and the parish of Clarendon.