Academics advising the Jamaican government on plans to reinstate its disused railway network have visited Birmingham on a fact-finding mission.
The team from the University of Technology, Jamaica, are collaborating with Jamaica’s Ministry of Transport and Mining to restore the network, with plans to upgrade Kingston Railway Station and open a three-and-a-half-mile route through the city. The station has been mothballed since services stopped in 1992.
Last year the team formed a transatlantic partnership with the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) to gain expert advice on the latest construction methods and technologies to deliver an efficient zero-carbon rail line. Restoration of this historic station and line in Kingston will help the island capital reduce traffic congestion, improve mobility, and boost tourism.
During a three-day trip to Birmingham, the team were keen to view work to restore parts of our region’s network and take a closer look at the £61 million Camp Hill line project being led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE).
While the Jamaica railway plans are still very much on the drawing board, work is already underway on the construction of three stations on the Camp Hill Line in south Birmingham – restoring passenger rail services to Mosely Village, Kings Heath, and Pineapple Road for the first time in more than 80 years.
The School of Engineering at Utech Jamaica has been at the centre of engineering education in the country for almost six decades. It has provided Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world with high-performance engineers who have gone on to make significant contributions in a variety of sectors.
Oneil Josephs, Head of the School of Engineering of the University of Technology, Jamaica said “This strategic technical rail tour of Birmingham is an opportunity to build on the Government of Jamaica’s intention to rehabilitate rail in the country.
“This partnership with the University of Birmingham is what the country needs to find a rail solution to the broader transport challenges we face and provide the basis for development across the sector. We look forward to the positive outcomes of this UK tour and our continued partnership with the UoB.
“Seeing the development of new stations here in Birmingham and how passenger services are coming back after decades gives us the encouragement to achieve a similar outcome in Jamaica.”
Liam Brooker, project sponsor for the WMRE and TfWM, said: “Restoring railway stations and improving public transport in our towns and cities will better connect our communities, reduce reliance on private cars and cut traffic jams, helping us meet the climate challenge and support economic growth.
“Although Kingston and Birmingham are far apart, we have the common aim of benefitting our citizens by investing in rail. We are making great progress on building our new stations and we were delighted to share our experience with our guests and take the opportunity to learn from their reflections.”
Professor Clive Roberts, BCRRE Director, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the Utech team and to further strengthen the collaboration agreement signed last year. BCRRE’s mission is to deliver world-class research, education, and innovation to the global rail industry. The opportunity to work with colleagues in Jamaica to develop the railway infrastructure in Kingston is a great example of that mission in action.”
The group also visited University Station where the new buildings are currently being fitted out ready to open this autumn. Construction of the Camp Hill Line and University Stations is being carried out by Volkerfitzpatrick on behalf of TfWM.
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