Trains of thought



Title Trains of thought: railways as island antitheses
Author(s) Godfrey Baldacchino
Journal Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures
Date 2008
Volume 2
Issue 1
Start page 29
End page 40
Abstract This article discusses the impacts of railways on islands, and of islands on railways. It
argues that railways constitute a development logic that may work well on sprawling
mainlands with industrialised economies and large enough populations residing in highdensity
clusters but they are hard pressed to achieve viability in service-driven island
jurisdictions where there are critical mass constrains in terms of both potential
passengers and freight, at times even in spite of relative affluence or high population
densities. Thus, the mere existence, or even the improvement, of transport infrastructure
does not guarantee economic and social progress. Many railways and their histories have
now been somewhat accommodated within the service industry of various islands.
However, the ‘fatal attraction’ they have provided to investors, elites and politicians in the
past may recur in relation to other, mesmerising technologies, with their promise of
serving as development panaceas.

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