Efficiency review to be undertaken into Isle of Man heritage railway operations

The Department of Infrastructure has confirmed that a new efficiency review is to take place into the Isle of Man’s heritage railways. This will be a wide-ranging review to see where money can be saved and will include a look at the Manx Electric Railway, Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, Snaefell Mountain Railway as well as the Isle of Man Steam Railway.

The review is said to be looking at the future and true value of the island’s heritage railways, finding for which comes out of the general Department of Infrastructure budget. A previous review – undertaken by SYSTRA in 2017/8 had found that the railways ran at a direct loss with operating costs of £4.87 million and revenue of £1.66 million. However, this did not take into account the indirect value of the railways to the general tourist trade on the island. Its said that the railways bring in somewhere between £4.5 million and £22 million of tourism spend.

Chris Thomas MHK, Minister of Infrastructure, is quoted as saying in the local press that the review will not just be about where cuts can be made but that there could also be positive things which comes out of it. Although with the review not having taken place – indeed there has been no announcement of who will be undertaking it – it is far too early to say exactly what it may say and also what would be done by the department as a result.

Mr Thomas said: “I believe in the heritage rail, I believe it’s a valuable part of our culture, but money is hard-pressed. We’ve got to make sure that we decide rationally whether £10 is better spent at the airport or on our heritage rail or on our bus routes.”

Currently the Director of Transport role has not been filled since the retirement of Ian Longworth and it has been suggested that it may not be with separate roles for the bus, rail and shared fleet services being created instead.

The report will be presented to the government at a later date.

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9 Responses to Efficiency review to be undertaken into Isle of Man heritage railway operations

  1. Geoff Currie says:

    And the hidden value of The Horse Tramway when finally recompleted to Sea Terminal will be not inconsequential in transferring Tourists down to (up to?) Derby Castle!

    • Tramcar66 says:

      If it was that important for moving people it wouldn’t have closed……

      • Geoff Currie says:

        Oh right then, close the lot, including Steam Railway, MER, and why would anyone want to go up Snaefell. As for Groudle Glen!!!

        • Geoff, IoM says:

          I rode the steam railway yesterday and will ride the MER to and from Cornaa today, so don’t you dare! My fellow Geoff, just ignore fatuous comments like those of ‘Tramcar66’.

        • Steve Hyde says:

          Teddies and prams spring to mind regarding this comment. By the way the Groudle Glen Railway is a purely volunteer operation so falls outside the remit of the review. You also missed a heritage railway out of your list for closure. There’s a heritage railway associated with the Laxey Mines site, again a volunteer operation I believe.
          Whilst I don’t believe the horse tramway should be abandoned I do rather doubt that it is much of a tourist attraction these days and its operation in the middle of a fairly busy highway must be fraught with hazard.

        • Tramcar66 says:

          Geoff – I didn’t say close it, I’m saying it obviously isn’t the vital link you think it is. Time to get the rose tinted specs off and have a look properly. ALL The Islands Heritage railways and tramways should have a future as the irreplaceable heritage assets they are but if they need thinning in order to survive, then so be it. And yes the horse trams should have always been put back full length but for their historical asset value not for some imaginary ‘vital transport link’

          • Geoff Currie says:

            This year there are more cruise ships arriving in Douglas, and over the next few years there will be even more. It is for the purpose of transferring those passengers that I talk about recompleting the link back to Sea Terminal! For proof look at the tramway in Aruba! Nothing at all to do with specs of any shade.

  2. Andy says:

    I wonder how much this review is costing and who is paying for it? How many miles of horse tramway could they have relaid for the same price?

    But knowing the politicians on Man, they’ll probably do half of the review then leave the rest of it to be forgotten! 🙂

  3. Geoff Currie says:

    Nice one Andy!

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