Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Scotts Pass residents want train service

Published:Tuesday | April 26, 2011 | 4:00 AM
Residents of Bog Walk, St Catherine, converge at the local train station for a closer view of the reconditioned five-coach train, on its test run from May Pen, Clarendon to Linstead, St Catherine, on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Passenger rail service is being reintroduced after nearly 20 years by the Ministry of Transport and Works and the Jamaica Railway Corporation. - JIS
Simroy Beckford at the 'Spanish Well' used in the heyday of the railway system.
A tunnel in Scotts Pass, Clarendon. PHOTOs BY NEDBURN THAFFE
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Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer

SCOTTS PASS, Clarendon:

TOOT TOOT! The train is coming and residents of Scotts Pass in Clarendon are waiting with bated breath to get on board.

The passenger train, which halted in 1992, was relaunched recently with a test run from May Pen to Linstead. The service is expected to be available on that route in another three weeks. Transport Minister Mike Henry said there is a long-term plan to revive the railway system.

It has been decades since a train traversed the tracks that stretch through Scotts Pass. Rotten woods lining the surface, and locals sitting idly along railway lines, are testaments that there is nothing beyond the tunnels just yet.

However, freshly trimmed shrubs that run alongside the track tell tales that something is up.

"Mi see some man come through the other day a trim the track and a do other little things, so it look like things a go gwaan," 52-year-old Simroy Beckford told The Gleaner.

From as far back as the days when the cost for a train ride was only 60 cents, Beckford is one of few residents in Scotts Pass who remember vividly when the railways in Jamaica were buzzing with activity.

"Mi remember from way back when dem use to use smith coal and water run train. Mi nuh forget nutten," Beckford emphasised.

And, as the 52-year-old explained, the history of Jamaica's railway system and the community of Scotts Pass, Clarendon are deeply intertwined.

"A right here so dem used to stop and load up the engine with smith coal," he said, pointing to an area adjacent to the tracks now overrun by shrubs.

"When dem done load it up with smith coal, dem used to go over there and catch water a Spanish Well and full it up with water. Dem time deh, as a bwoy when we see train stop inna we community and we see people from all bout, we use to feel good," he said.

Equally embedded in his memory is the 1966 historic visit by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie to Jamaica, who he remembered riding the train from Kingston to Montego Bay, waving to the locals in Scotts Pass as the train rolled by.

Seemingly somewhat overcome by nostalgia, Beckford, who is a Rastafarian, recounted the event with much mirth.

"Mi remember mi was about seven years old dem time there. A right yah suh mi stand up and watch him and Mortimer Planno (Haile Selassie language interpreter) a wave to wi. Things like that can never come out a mi memory."

Like the many residents in Scotts Pass, he believes that, with the railway system set to get up and running in the near future, this could bring new life to the now-sleeping community, as well as make life a little easier for residents.

"We would a love fi see them things there happen again, yeah man. Right now, nothing nah gwaan a Scotts Pass, and the bus fare a kill we around here. We believe things would a little better," Beckford told The Gleaner.

nedburn.thaffe@gleanerjm.com