The Manx Electric Railway Society has said the decision not to push on with finishing the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway to the Sea Terminal ‘will damage the island’s reputation as a unique vintage transport destination’.
This week, the DoI Minister Tim Crookall said he will not seek the required £1.5m to finish the job within the next year or two.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the MERS said the tramway is an ‘incalculable historic importance as the only survivor left on the planet of a working Victorian Horse Tramway’.
They added: ‘As such it is the duty of its custodian the Isle of Man Government to maintain and preserve this priceless asset which dates to 1876. With this in mind Tynwald voted as long ago as 2016 to incorporate the tramway within the redevelopment of the Douglas promenades running the full length of the bay.
‘The last time a horse tram travelled the full length of the promenade was the 22nd October 2018, over three years ago and when it re-opens the line will be cut back to a point by the war Memorial, roughly half way along the seafront, in the context of Douglas seafront, in the middle of nowhere.’
The MERS has also used its statement to accuse the DoI of acting ‘unconstitutionally and against the will of the Court of Tynwald and without any approval for such a fundamental variation in the plans’.
When Tynwald approved the prom scheme in 2017, an amendment from retired MHK Chris Robertshaw ensured that the horse trams would run, in single track form, to the Sea Terminal, albeit removed from the road they had travelled up and down for decades.
MERS said: ‘Whilst the line has been closed there has been an unhappy catalogue of events which have led a well-respected MHK to conclude reflected “sabotage” and a hidden agenda appears to be in operation in which certain elements have sought to prevent the reconstruction of the horse tramway along the full length of the Promenades and we have now heard that the completion of this project has effectively been stripped of its funding and kicked into the long grass.
‘If this is permitted to occur future Manx generations will be denied their pride in this charming and timeless asset.
‘The Manx Electric Railway Society calls upon the MHKs to honour their democratic decision to save the line and to set a clear course for the completion of this wonderful asset. It is simply not good enough for the Minister Mr Crookhall to declare that he is not prepared to ask for funds for this scheme for the next year or so and our democratic guardians should be encouraged to turn on the pressure to execute their decision to re-build the line for the full length of the route.’