An option to close the Laxey to Ramsey section of the Manx Electric Railway has been considered by consultants – but they’ve been told it would be unlikely to save much money.

And public transport bosses have suggested that extending the horse tramway back to the Sea Terminal would make it more attractive to cruise ship visitors.

Consultants SYSTRA were contracted undertake a review of the heritage railways earlier this year.

The report has yet to be published, And Infrastructure Minister Tim Crookall told Tynwald that the SYSTRA report was ‘certainly not explosive’.

But a Freedom of Information request has revealed that discussions have been had around cutting or severely reducing the Laxey to Ramsey section of the MER.

In an email from October this year, an unnamed officer in the DoI wrote to SYSTRA, under the heading ‘Laxey Ramsey section’ to point out that the DoI would ‘have a statutory obligation to maintain fences and drains if we abandon any section of line’.

That email also discussed the costs of switching to single line working which they said would ‘have a further impact in that we would need an extra station master to ensure staff and ticket operation functioned which would attract another large salary cost’.

It added: ‘The alternative would be to cut the service significantly so that we only had one tram in the northern section at a time. This would impact a lot of the early services, lunch breaks, and any additional services we operate.

‘There would also be significant increased safety risk operating on the twin tracks.’

Garff MHK Daphne Caine said it was the most scenic part of the line. She said: ‘As suspected the possibility of reducing or removing trams on the Laxey to Ramsey section of the MER has been considered but it seems the proposal wouldn’t save too much money, leaving DoI liable for maintenance and drainage.’

It has been five years since horse trams last completed a trip along the length of Douglas promenade, despite Tynwald voting for the scheme to be completed.

As a result of the DoI using the money elsewhere, a move Speaker Juan Watterson called a ‘slap in the face’ for Tynwald, the tramway just runs from the Terminus Tavern to near the bottom of Broadway.

But in the email released under FoI, an unnamed civil servant says that ‘the attractiveness of the DBHT experience for a cruise ship passenger is high if it were to commence at the point of debarkation at the Sea Terminal’.

They added: ‘With the current DBHT terminus location it is not an attractive event for cruise passengers. The hotels on Loch promenade are no longer served by the DBHT route and we have some anecdotal evidence we lose significant numbers of passengers for the DBHT due to this.’