WHILE the axe falls on front line services, benefits and tax reliefs, Tynwald will be asked in the summer to approve spending of £750,000 on a brand new replacement diesel locomotive for the Steam Railway.
Funding for the engine – which would replace a broken down German-built diesel – would come from the capital fund.
But in his Budget speech, Treasury Minister Eddie Teare MHK said: ‘Our focus going forward has to be to ensure that capital spending does not get spent on grandiose schemes or pet projects.’
The proposed purchase of a new railway loco was criticised on Budget Day by MHK Howard Quayle (Middle), who said: ‘Are railways expected to produce more growth than the Department of Economic Development? I do not see the new locomotive, costing £750,000, as an engine for growth!’
Chief engineer on the railway Peter Maddocks said he appreciated the issues created by asking for such a large sum of money when public finances were so tight.
He said a new loco was needed because the existing diesels had passed their useful working life, spares were not readily available and they couldn’t be used to recover trains in the event of a breakdown – a steam engine had to be kept in steam for that purpose.
He said that because of the system’s unusual gauge and clearances, no suitable second hand replacement could be found.
Budget approval has already been given for £50,000 for design fees. The request for the £750,000 purchase cost will be made at Tynwald’s July sitting.
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One capital scheme that was given funding approval on Budget Day was £1.883 million for new buses.
Tynwald approval will be sought in April for a £3.2 million baggage handling scheme at the airport and in January next year, the court will be asked to support £1 million for the Douglas Promenades revamp.
Mr Teare announced a capital spending programme for the year of £83 million – £7 million more than originally forecast.
This will comprise £55m for construction schemes, including continued investment in public housing, school extensions and smaller scale maintenance and improvements.
Mr Teare said the level of activity in the construction industry was giving him cause for concern.