We suggested earlier this month we doubted this story has run its course and sure enough the ongoing saga of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway looks like it is here to stay once more! As you recall earlier this week panic set in when the regular updates from the Douglas Promenade project team said that the line would be terminated at the War Memorial and although the Department of Infrastructure later said this was an error and incorrect there was confirmation would still be a delay to the remainder of the tramway being laid, possibly until the 2023 season.
As things stand at the moment – and it could have changed by the time you read this as it appears that the Department of Infrastructure are also making it up as they go along! – the plan is that during this prolonged period of construction over this summer the tramway will be laid through to Broadway. This would then be followed in winter 2021/22 with a short extension to the War Memorial which should be the start of the single-line section to the Sea Terminal. But suggestions are that this would not be completed until the winter of 2022/23 with this year’s work seeing a soft landscaped corridor put in place which could be replaced by tram tracks when required.
Whilst the Isle of Man Government are saying publicly they remain committed to retaining the entire length of the Horse Tramway there are still concerns that if the work is not completed as part of the main construction phase it may never happen and as such Douglas Bay Horse Tramway Online have launched another “Save our Tramway” campaign.
In a statement Douglas Bay Horse Tramway Online say: “The Department of Infrastructure is proposing to ‘delay’ re-installing the horse tramway track along Loch Promenade for an undetermined period. Instead, by Easter 2021, the tramway space will now be soft-landscaped as a ‘linear park’! If you are concerned about the potential loss of one-third of the horse tramway, it no longer starting or finishing at the Sea Terminal or serving Loch Promenade, PLEASE, now is the time to make your views known directly to the Infrastructure Minister Mr Ray Harmer (email email@example.com) with a copy to the newsdesk at Isle of Man Newspapers (email firstname.lastname@example.org).”
“The Department will consult with local businesses and other stakeholders about the timing and convenience of the future installation. Those same businesses previously campaigned against retention of the horse tramway due to its perceived negative impact on traffic flow and the loss of free on-street parking. The Department itself recommended abandonment of the Loch Promenade section in late 2016, but was overruled democratically by a majority in Tynwald.”
“The cost of installing the tramway separately at a future date must surely be far greater than if the work were to be completed as part of the current much larger project, with a workforce and equipment already on site, and some of the tramway formation already excavated and fully prepared.”
“Instead of simply postponing elements of the scheme, the Department should be maximising the opportunity presented by long summer days and a ‘quiet’ next 12 months to engage as many construction employees and sub-contractors as possible on site to complete its signature ‘Gateway-to-the-Island’ project in full, even at the expense of delaying other non-critical infrastructure works around the Island.”
“The Infrastructure Minister must ask his officers to again reconsider their revised phasing schedule to enable the tramway section along Loch Promenade to continue to be installed this year alongside the remaining highway refurbishment works being undertaken, and to complete all of the works by Easter 2021.”
“The historic horse tramway has served the full length of the Douglas Promenades for 143 years from the Sea Terminal to Derby Castle. It should continue to do so. Thank you for your support.”
It looks as if it could be another interesting period for the Horse Tramway and we will keep you up-to-date as the situation continues to develop.