After several days of recriminations and debate in the media and amongst politicians on the Isle of Man it has now been announced that ongoing discussions are looking at the possibility of running a service on the Douglas Horse Tramway in 2016 – although it should be stressed that at this stage discussions are ongoing and there is no guarantee that anything will happen but at least there are serious thoughts to the future of this historic tramway and we are in a far better position than it looked like at the end of last week.
Last time we reported on this saga the Isle of Man Government had practically washed their hands of jumping in to save the line between Strathallan and the Sea Terminal but since then a number of members of the House of Keys – presumably partly as a result of public opinion from both on and off the island and the effect its closure may have on tourism – have come out in support of the Horse Trams with an emergency debate taking place at the start of the week looking at whether it would be possible to save the tramway through which ever means were most sensible. It was revealed during this debate that a working group had already been set-up to look at the future of the tramway but the speed with which they have met and already started serious discussions on the issue has been almost as much a surprise as the original announcement. Because…
This evening a joint statement was released by the Isle of Man Government and Douglas Borough Council following the first meeting of the working group which was said to be “very productive” with a “number of workable options for the possible retention of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway” being discussed. The statement goes on to say: “A working party comprising officers from Government, the Council, Manx National Heritage and Culture Vannin has been established. The working party will gather information and suggest a way forward with a view to operating a horse tram service this season and to consider the long term future of the horse trams.”
Hon Phil Gawne MHK, Minister for Infrastructure, commented: “The working party will wish to speak to interested parties as its work continues. It is important to remember, however, that the reason the decision was taken to stop the horse tram service was a shortage of funding and this remains a significant issue in identifying a future for the horse trams.”
With Cllr David Christian, Council Leader, adding: “The Council is happy to support the working party by its officers ensuring all necessary information is supplied. I recognised the commitment around the table this evening of all the representatives present; there is a clear desire to work together to secure the best outcome for the Isle of Man.”
It is still very early days in the discussions to save this historic tramway but at least there are discussions and the situation is not quite as dire as it seemed at the end of last week. Mind you with these discussions now started it begs the question why the Council didn’t try to talk to interested parties before making their swift and deadly decision?