Isle of Man Transport has said it wanted to run the Snaefell Mountain Railway this year, but it wasn’t its decision.
The decision not to open the tramway for its 125th anniversary has been criticised by supporters and politicians.
To celebrate the railway’s 125th anniversary, Isle of Man Transport shared a picture on its Facebook page showing trams 1, 2 and 5 lined up outside the tram shed in Laxey.
However, this drew the ire of Daphne Caine (Garff) who had pushed for all the island’s state-owned heritage railways to open this summer for local residents and Guernsey holidaymakers.
Mrs Caine said: ’Shame when they could run the rest of this season along with MER trams for local residents and Guernsey visitors - at minimal cost, and breakeven quite possible.’
The Garff MHK also shared the written answer she received from August’s Tynwald when she asked for the estimated costs for running a limited service for the SMR and what the breakeven point would’ve been for the trams.
In his response, Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker said the total daily cost would be £2,714, meaning the railway would need to sell 226 tickets each day in order to break even.
When only marginal costs are included, the bill per day would be £773, requiring 64 tickets to be sold each day in order to break even.
Another person to comment on the post was Stephen Mylchreest who said: ’I wonder if IoM Transport understand irony? This post just rubs salt in.’
Isle of Man Transport - part of the DoI - responded, saying that ’we would love to run this summer’.
Mr Mylchreest then asked Isle of Man Transport why it didn’t accept the offer of £9,000 towards costs made by the Manx Electric Railway Society.
Isle of Man Transport replied: ’While we are the operator, that was not our decision to make!’
Liberal Vannin leader Lawrie Hooper said that using the marginal costs the DoI also provided, the £9,000 offered by MERS would’ve allowed the SMR to run for 11 days.
Mr Hooper said: ’Something doesn’t stack up - the marginal costs are what’s relevant as maintenance etc has to be done anyway. But the service doesn’t usually ’break even’ right? So it’s odd to apply that criteria right now?
’Or are we going to cease all our loss-making heritage services?’
The Ramsey MHK said that ’in reality I’m not overly supportive of the SMR being re-opened this year’.
He added: ’I’m just concerned at the lack of transparent decision making - this department historically isn’t great at demonstrating the thinking behind decisions.’
Isle of Man Transport is an agency of the government’s Department of Infrastructure and operates Bus Vannin as well as Isle of Man Railway, Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, the Manx Electric Railway and the Snaefell Mountain Railway.