On a Sunday afternoon not too many months ago, I was a witness to an argument that was being carried on by the patrons of a popular foreign restaurant on the island of Guanaja. The argument was about the proposed highway on this island. There were those that argued that the very last thing we needed on this island are cars and there were those that believed that it would promote tourism and in so doing would help the economy of the island.
As the argument was going no where, someone in an attempt to distract the arguers jokingly said: “if you people don’t want cars then get a train!” everybody laughed and the argument was over.
I did not give the argument much thought after that, but later, when I was alone, the idea of getting a train came back to mind. The more I thought about the idea the less absurd it sounded and a notion was born.
A highway for cars would cause a lot of damage to the land, hills would have to be leveled, hollows filled in and rivers dammed up and there is a great possibility that with our seasonal rains and our vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes the proposed road could be washed in the sea, creating even more damage by destroying our only claim to fame, our reefs.
On the other hand, train tracks are easier to build and would not cause too much damage to our beloved island. A train track would require less than half width of that needed by a road for automobiles. It would need less leveling and no asphalt pavement, the rails and the ties would help prevent the erosion of the land because vegetation would soon fill in the spaces between the ties. When the railroad construction reaches to where there would be a river, a simple bridge or trestle would be built and the river would continue to flow. The shoulders required by a railroad are less that those required for a highway and this would prevent people from squatting by the side of the road.
A train could pull two or three cars and the railroad could have stops along the way including picnic areas in the mountains, there could be restaurant stops, rest stops, picture taking stops and any other kind of stops that tourist might like. To start, the tourist would come from the island of Roatan; we could fly them in the morning, take their money and fly them out in the afternoon. Just in time to get back on their cruise ship.
One day we may have our own cruise ships coming into the harbor and the railroad would be the main attraction. I don’t know of anyplace in the world that attracts tourist with highways and cars, but now a narrow gauge railroad that would be a terrific attraction, because there are millions of people that have never ever been on a real train.
With a single train operation, accidents would be very few and far apart; the same thing cannot be said for automobiles. In Honduras, every six hours a person is killed in or by a car. We could have stations in the main settlements and in areas with population that live outside of the settlements, we could actually build cabins in the mountains and the transportation would be provided by the Bonnaco Express. We will have to build 15 or 20 miles of track, depending on how far down the south coast we plan to come; we would have to purchase an engine and at least two cars with observation canopies. The engine would be diesel driven but with a façade of old steam engines of years gone by.
The cost of laying a railroad without the cost of the land is around a hundred dollars a foot, so it will take from ten to 15 million dollars. [/private]