The Isle of Man's railways need a 10 to 15 year development strategy to ensure that they continue to return a positive investment for the Manx economy.

A report by SYSTRA , a consultancy and engineering firm specializing in public infrastructure and engineering, has made several recommendations about securing the long term of the railways.

Having spent the last 13 years in a ‘protracted period of recovery from sustained underinvestment’, the independent review found the island’s railways to be in good shape, but there exists a lack of a clear, unified vision.

SYSTRA said: ‘In part, this is because the railways have for many years been focused on moving from a position of reactive to proactive asset management.

'A clear strategy would articulate how the railway will develop and what this would deliver for the island’s economy.

‘The development of a strategy would provide reassurance to decision makers of the value of the investments being made in subvention and capital investment and evidence how investments will support the economy.

‘Aspects of this review, by providing clarity around, among other issues, the contribution of the railway to the wider economy and the operating and capital cost implications and revenue opportunities of options should provide a foundation for strategy development.’

The review also found that there is a lack of engagement and coordination between tourist organisations across the island.

SYSTRA said that better knowledge sharing between organisations ‘should ultimately lead to a stronger more appealing tourism offer bringing greater tourism spend’.

The third part of the recommendations is for the railway to give visitors more information about upcoming events and to market itself on its own platforms.

‘An area that urgently needs to be addressed is the digital marketing of the railway.' the report adds.

'The railway is currently served by a nondescript webpage which forms part of the Bus Vannin website.

'This provides the basic information required to plan a journey, although the layout is not intuitive.’

The review found that this compares poorly with other heritage railways which provide information while also marketing their services.

SYSTRA added: ‘This is an area that railway management already plan to address but should be brought forward as soon as possible.’