Still no sign of a case for re-extending Douglas Bay Horse Tramway

The new season on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway will be starting on 6th April 2023 but when it does it will once again be only running part of its former route as the section between Broadway and the Sea Terminal is still to be constructed. A recent debate at Tynwald again mentioned the prospect of returning the trams to the Sea Terminal but it seems there are currently no definite plans of when funding may be sought for this to be built.

At the risk of covering old ground, a little bit of recent history for you. As part of the redevelopment of Douglas Promenade there were many proposals for the Horse Tramway and much debate over what would happen. Eventually Tynwald agreed to a single track tramway – with passing loop – on the section between Broadway and the Sea Terminal and this was even funded. In fact it went through Tynwald more than once and was approved on each occasion. However, the Prom redevelopment ran into problems and went over budget which led to the single track section of the tramway to be put on the back burner, although with the promise it would be a decision that was returned to in the future.

Indeed, last year current Infrastructure Minister, Chris Thomas, said that they he would bring the proposals to Tynwald but in this latest debate he was unable to say just when this would be.

Mr Thomas said: “The single line section of tram track to sea terminal was removed from the Douglas promenade project in April 2020. A separate project business case has been developed with options, I’ve seen it. Funding through the budget process would be required but Tynwald’s fiscal position is tight at present. I am unable to advise when that scheme may be brought forward.’

As you were then and for the foreseeable future the tramway will remain a double track line between Derby Castle and Broadway.

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7 Responses to Still no sign of a case for re-extending Douglas Bay Horse Tramway

  1. Geoff Currie says:

    This year there are more cruise liners visiting Douglas than ever before. Does someone in The Dept. of (for) Infrastructure, and the Tourism Department not have the Intelligence to realise that rebuilding the tramway back to Sea terminal is vital. Part of the reason for the Edinburgh extension through to Leith is due to the increase over the next few years of cruise ships calling in, and being able to move a large number of passengers up into the city. Remember todays ships are for six thousand to ten thousand passengers.

  2. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    My impression is that those who go on cruises either have excursions laid on for when they reach land (often by tender) or have the money to hire taxis or other private transport facilities. Therefore, although there might be an increased demand for the Horse Trams, this is by no means guaranteed. I expect Tynwald need to be convinced 100 percent that there woud be sufficient returns on any investment to extend the line to the Sea Terminal. Maybe they wish to monitor the patronage of the truncated line before they can make a decision – this would be a sensible approach to allow them to determine how viable a reinstated line would prove to be.

  3. Geoff Currie says:

    I stand corrected, the AVERAGE number of passengers on modern cruise ships is 3,000
    to 4,000 Sorry!

  4. Geoff Currie says:

    In reply to to Nostalgicyetprogressive. If you had the choice between a tram to Manx Electric Railway or a taxi, would you really choose a taxi? Come on!

  5. Nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Naturally, from a tram enthusiast’s viewpoint a horse tram to Derby Castle would be far preferable to a taxi or bus. On the other hand, it cannot be supposed that cruise passengers would have a specific interest in transport – a few may, but I would expect interest in the Island to be of a more general nature. They could very likely wish to visit places like Grove House, Cregneash, the Curraghs Wildlife Park and the summit of Snaefell (the Mountain Railway would provide the transport interest). Cruise passengers are often transported by coach from where they land and this is usually seen as the most efficient way of organising site seeing. Friends of mine, who like to cruise, have found this system to be the norm. Whether any cruise passengers would make use of the Horse Trams would to some extent depend on how much freedom they were afforded once ashore.

    Whilst it is not practicable to second guess cruise passengers’ reasons for visiting the Island, much less their interests, it woud be ideal to monitor the patronage of the extant Horse Tram line, so that the Manx Government can make an informed decision on the likely viability of the line. If it proves highly lucrative then there would seem little reason to hold back on the reinstatement of the line to the Sea Terminal. However, if the line struggles to make money, then the Manx taxpayers’ money could be better spent, say for example on a new MRI scanner for the Nobles Hospital or improvements to the Sea Terminal maybe to the extent that cruise ships could berth there.

  6. Alan Spencer says:

    The horse tramway when it operated from the Sea Terminal was not only a convenient and pleasant way to travel the full length of the Promenade, it also acted as a vital feeder to the MER and SMR. As things currently stand, the tramway doesn’t even reach the foot of Broadway, and represents nothing more than a short and pointless joyride. Most rightminded people realise that the horse tramway needs to be reinstated (and not extended as some Manx politicians would have it) to the Sea Terminal which was a major source of traffic. Those who wish to see horse trams return to the Sea Terminal will need to shout from the rooftops, and press very hard those charged with making decisions, otherwise nothing will change.

  7. Geoff Currie says:

    I cruise regularly, and everyone has free time ashore whether they make their own arrangements, or take the excursions sold by the Shipping Company. In the IOM one of the excursions would likely be Horse tram ride, Manx Electric to Laxey, then up Snaefell.For an example of Trams working along cruise ships, just look at Aruba!

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