Full length Douglas Bay Horse thrown into doubt again

If this article was in a tabloid newspaper the word again in the headline would probably in capitals as it’s a story which keeps coming around time after time – it appears that the future of the full length Douglas Bay Horse Tramway has again been thrown into doubt. It now seems that permission for funding for the section of tramway between Broadway and the Sea Terminal will have to be sought again as Treasury politicians have decided that before the Department of Infrastructure use part of their pre-agreed heritage railway budget for the purpose it will have to be approved in Tynwald (again).

As we’ve reported previously (many, many times) the current work on Douglas Promenade is seeing the tram tracks put down as far as Broadway with the remaining single track section from there to the Sea Terminal due to follow at a later date. With the whole Douglas Promenade reconstruction project behind schedule (and its not just Covid restrictions to blame for that as it was behind schedule even before we had heard of it) the decision had been taken last year that the section to the Sea Terminal wouldn’t be able to be completed along with the remainder of the work (which it is/was hoped would be finished by this spring). After much confusion, claim and counter claim it was revealed that it was planned this remaining section of tramway would be finished next winter (although how accurate that timeline is will always be debatable when you look at the history of the project).

To fund the last section of the line – which you may remember is due to be a single track with passing loop on the sea side of the Promenade instead of in the centre of the road – the Department of Infrastructure were planning to use part of their pre-agreed heritage railway budget. But the latest repairs coming out from the Isle of Man are now saying that if this cash is to be used it will have to be agreed by Tynwald once more. To add to the complexities there is due to be a general election for Tynwald in September this year and there is no indication whether the department will apply for the funding before this date. The problem if it doesn’t is contracts won’t be able to be let in time for the work to be completed in time for the start of the operating season in 2022.

All in all it is once again a mess and it does appear that there are some on the Isle of Man who feel there are better things to spend money on than complete the Horse Tramway all the way to the Sea Terminal. What this means for the future is one of “watch this space”.

And to add to the relaying of the tracks story – a section of recently laid rail has had to be lifted following the failure of quality control tests. 100 metres of track will be replaced at the expense of the contractors opposite Clarence Terrace on Central Promenade with a further 20 metres due to be replaced in May.

A spokesperson for MyProm said: “A 100m section of tram rail has been removed following a failure of quality control testing. A further 20m of track is scheduled to be removed in May once the traffic management has changed and this track can be safely accessed. This is not rail that was bought and supplied by the department for use along most of the Promenade. It is a different type of rail that is used for areas such as switches and crossings. Responsibility for replacing this rail lies with Auldyn Construction Ltd and, as such, no cost will be borne by the department for its replacement.’

No dates of when some sort of service may resume on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway have yet been announced but it was previously hoped the horse would be able to run from Derby Castle to Broadway by the summer. As things stand the trams have moved back into the shiny rebuilt Strathallan Depot but where they will go from there remains to be seen.

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1 Response to Full length Douglas Bay Horse thrown into doubt again

  1. David M says:

    You couldn’t really make this up!

    I think that Tynwald are starting to regret embarking on the Promenade redevelopment. I remember visits to the island in the 1990’s when much more of the traditional facade along the promenade survived. Arriving on the ferry was a magical experience – the white painted buildings reflected in the glow from the illuminations that spanned the full length of the bay, and the Horse Trams running late into the evenings. On more than one occasion I used the Horse Tram as a means of transport from the ferry to the hotel. Now all of that is gone in the name of progress as the island seems hell bent on turning Douglas into just another bland seaside resort. Very sad.

    Personally I feel the whole basis of the redevelopment was flawed. They should have looked at ways of removing through traffic from the promenade and making it a much nicer shared space for pedestrians and the Horse Trams. They could have produced something unique, but they blew it. If the Horse Trams terminate at the War Memorial they become just a joy ride not a form of transport and their usage will surely fall.

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