The Assembly of Jamaica approves a 12 mile track between Kingston and Spanish Town and a 2½ mile branch line to a sugar estate in Angels. An equity issue for the Western Jamaica Connecting Railway is floated in the amount of £150,000.

Nov. 1845

The track to Spanish Town is completed. The Governor of Jamaica along with guests and investors partake in an inagural ride. The event is covered in the Jan. 31, 1846 issue of The Illustrated London News.


Even before the first section of track is completed, a £1 million equity issue is floated to build a line to Montego Bay. Click here and here to see share certificates of this issue. This project was never started, and it is not known how much was raised or what the funds were used for.


England passes the Sugar Duties Act which equalizes imported duties for sugar from the colonies. This Act, along with the recent abolition of slavery, makes Jamaican commodities less competitive and creates a compelling reason to lower transportation costs by expanding the Railway to various plantations.


The plantation economy declines more than anticipated, affecting rail revenue and expansion capital. An eleven mile extension from Spanish Town to Old Harbour is completed.


Sir Anthony Musgrave becomes Governor of Jamaica and proposes a government takeover of the privately owned railway company.


The Government purchases the railway for £93,932 and undertakes a modernization program costing some £100,000.

1880 1885

The improving market for sugar and the establishment of several new banana and sugar plantations leads to the construction of railway extensions from Old Harbour to Porus and from Spanish Town to Ewarton and Bog Walk.

1885 1887

Cost analyses and surveys are undertaken to determine the feasibility of extending the railroad from Porus to Montego Bay and from Bog Walk to Port Antonio. The estimated cost to build both extensions is £1.5 million. The Government does not have the means to finance the expansion and the plans are shelved.

Nov. 1888

An American syndicate offers to buy the Railroad and build the Montego Bay and Port Antonio extensions.

Jan. 1890

The Railway is sold to the West India Improvement Co. for £100,000 cash and a £700,000 4% second mortgage. The acquirer is authorized to issue bonds as sections of the Montego Bay and Port Antonio extensions are completed.


The Montego Bay line is completed.


The Port Antonio line is completed. Over the next few years, bananas become Jamaica's major export crop. The United Fruit Co. soon becomes the dominant corporate entity in Port Antonio.


Cash flow does not cover all the interest payments to bondholders. The West India Improvement Co. falls into receivership.


The Jamaica Government again assumes responsibility of the railroad.


A 13 mile extension from May Pen to Chapelton is completed in order to service the growing citrus industry.


A 9¼ mile extension from Chapelton to Frankfield is completed.

1940 1950

Bauxite deposits are discovered in the interior. The railroad plays a key role in the development of bauxite mines. By 1975, bauxite accounts for over 99% of railroad cargo.

1952 1955

Following the 1951 hurricane, a rehabilitation program is undertaken. Steam engines are replaced with diesel locomotives.


Jamaica is granted independence. Nationalization of unprofitable industries results in a diversion of railway maintenance funds to keep these industries afloat.


The May Pen to Frankfield line is closed due to lack of maintenance.


The Bog Walk to Port Antonio line is closed due to lack of maintenance.


Hurricane Gilbert destroys much of the remaining railroad infrastructure.

Oct. 1992

The Jamaica Government Railway ceases to operate with the exception of the bauxite lines which are privately funded.

2011 2012

In April 2011, a section of the railway between Spanish Town and Linstead was reopened to the public. This operation was not financially viable and closed in Aug. 2012.