Thomas Kautzor has been to several Caribbean islands to check out what is left
of their railways and industrial heritage.
For the full general index, see Railway Relics (and more) in the Caribbean, Other
report for the eastern islands in this series comprise:
For other St. Kitts reports please see above.
St. Kitts Scenic Railway (SKSR, http://www.stkittsscenicrailway.com/):
In December 2002 this company started operating tourist trains over the tracks of the SSMC, in conjunction with the cruise-ship lines calling at Basseterre. At first the ride went around the whole island, but it was later deemed too long (4 hours) and more profitable to only operate from Needsmust Station (mp 0.˝), the first siding east of the factory and right next to the international airport, along the Atlantic coast of the island, to La Vallee Siding (mp 18) in the northwest. In this way the train is able to make two daily round-trips, with the passengers traveling along the Caribbean side of the island by bus from/to Basseterre. During cruising when several ships call daily at Basseterre, this amounts to 560 passengers daily (4x140/train). During the low season (April-September), operations shut down in the past, but this year they started one round-trip operations on Fridays only, as the Carnival Victory calls that day. The SKSR has also started clearing the not-used 12 miles of track on the Caribbean side of the island as they plan to again start service around the whole island. This will be some hard work, as everything is very overgrown and some road crossings have been tarred over. The branch to the Factory Pier has been abandoned since 2005 and is heavily overgrown, but the track is still in place, except at the pier itself, where it has been lifted and the molasses tanks scrapped. The sugar store is still there and some warehouses have been taken over by the RSKNDF Coast Guard.
The SKSR’s operational centre is at Needsmust Station, with a ticket booth, the administrative offices, a two-road workshop, an outside inspection pit and a loop to turn the train. All points have been removed at the seven intermediate crossing points and sidings between Needsmust and La Vallee, except for one at Bellevue, which was used to get the tamper going back to Needsmust out of the way on the day we rode the train. At La Vallee a loop has also been laid to turn the train.
Locomotives & Rolling Stock:
To operate its tourist trains, the SKSR bought the following three diesels from Interlok in Poland, were they had been regauged from 750mm to 762mm gauge and repowered with Henschel 16H12A 450 hp engines:
- 0-6-0DH No. 01 (FAUR L30H 23396/77, 25 tons, ex Cukrownia Dobre CO-01, 1989 ex Cukrownia Ostrowy) operational;
- 0-6-0DH No. 02 (FAUR L30H 24062/80, 25 tons, ex Cukrownia Dobre CD-01) operational;
- 0-6-0DH No. 03 (FAUR L30H 24067/80, 25 tons, ex Cukrownia Dobre CO-02, 1989 ex Cukrownia Ostrowy) dumped without engine.
A new bogie diesel-electric locomotive is being built by Global Locomotive in Washington State (the company that repowered the White Pass & Yukon class 90 diesels) and expected for delivery in September 2012.
The single trainset is made up of a power generation van and five ‘Island Series’ double-decker luxury passenger coaches (No. 1-5). Both the coaches lower-level air-conditioned parlor interior and top-level observation deck have 28 seats each, allowing passengers to choose where to sit. Complementary drinks are served by attendants and there are bathrooms at the lower level of each coach. The coaches were designed by the Tom Rader of the Colorado Railcar Manufacturing in Fort Lupton, Colorado, and built by Hamilton Manufacturing Company of Burlington, WA (who also built narrow gauge coaches for the White Pass & Yukon and the Edaville Railroad).
The SKSR also brought some track maintenance equipment with it from North America, including two Fairmont motor trolleys (one precedes the passenger train), a tamper (No. 1126) and a Kershaw spreader.
While the SKSR advertises itself as the “Last Railway in the West Indies”, this certainly fails to take into account the bauxite mining railways in Jamaica or the two short tourist lines in Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is however certainly the most beautiful and entertaining train ride for passengers in the Caribbean.
Saint Kitts Scenic Railway pictures:
#1 at Needsmust
#2 at Needsmust
Rolling stock for the passenger train including the power car:
The Railway's workshops:
The train journey:
On the move
Fairmont Track Car
Fairmont Track Car at La Vallee