'The island’s railways are a key part of our tourism attractions, but they’re not part of our infrastructure, says the Minister who runs them.'
"Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker was speaking in a debate about the transfer of flood management when the scope of the DoI was raised.
Mr Baker said that when he first took on the department from Ray Harmer, he looked at the range of work undertaken by the DoI and how it fitted together.
He told Tynwald: ’Some of things that are in there, perhaps don’t fit as well with the core business of the DoI is all about. Members will be aware, and it is on Hansard, that I’ve spoken about my view that heritage railways for example are not part of the travel infrastructure of the Isle of Man.
It is an extremely important part of our tourist proposition, it is part of what makes the island a special place to live and to visit, but it’s not about core infrastructure and moving people about the island for journeys of necessity, which is what infrastructure is all about.’
However, this contrasts with previous comments made by the DoI’s chief executive Nick Black, who told a Tynwald committee in June that the horse tram tracks being laid on the promenade could form part of a future modern tram network.
Mr Black told the hearing: Mr Black told the hearing: ’A light rail system running from something like Birch Hill to Farmhill, and it might be 20 years would be a great way to move people around the island in a sort of greener future. This will absolutely be built with the same rail, with the same capacity, absolutely. Anything that will run on one will run on the other.’
In July’s Tynwald sitting, Mr Baker suggested the railways may be more at home in the Department for Enterprise.
He said: ‘As I indicated earlier, I am going to be working with the Minister for Enterprise [Laurence Skelly] to actually look at what the options may be to put it into a home that is right for its long-term sustainability and success.
It may be a way in which people in certain areas of the island travel for day-to-day activity, but I cannot accept that it is an integral part of our core public transport infrastructure. It is an important part of our visitor proposition.
It is part of what makes the Isle of Man special and distinctive. It needs to be in the right place to ensure that it is looked after and thought about in the right way, and that perhaps it can integrate more with some of the other very valuable tourist propositions that we have on the Isle of Man."