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No Commuter Trains for Steam Railway 21 August 2003

TRANSPORT consultants for the Department of Tourism and Leisure have concluded that running commuter trains on the steam railway would not be financially viable.

The TAS Partnership Limited of Preston was commissioned to undertake a feasibility study on the possibility of introducing peak hour trains on the Isle of Man Railway, following the track infrastructure works being undertaken as part of the IRIS pipeline scheme scheduled for completion next year.

The TAS report's key findings are that a single journey in each direction on Mondays to Fridays at peak times operating between Douglas and Port Erin could attract up to 100 passengers each way if the journey time was 40 minutes or less. The likely annual usage would be between 38,000 and 50,500 passengers. Based on a conservative cost of £1million for a new train, the provision of this service is unlikely to meet any reasonable 'value for money' test.

Consideration could be given to using the new train more intensively, perhaps in connection with a service to Ronaldsway Airport. There would be some other benefits including an estimated reduction of car journeys into Douglas in the morning peak by 6,750 per annum, with resulting reduction in demand for Douglas car parking spaces and reduced exhaust emissions.

Minister for Tourism and Leisure David Cretney said: 'It was important to carry out this study to determine the factual position. In today's financial climate we cannot make a case for introducing commuter trains, and we will continue to invest our resources for regular passengers in improving our bus services as we have been for some time. However, in a different financial climate, that decision would be reconsidered.'

David Howard, Director of Public Transport, said: 'The ongoing investment in the Isle of Man Railway is essential for the railway to continue to operate safely and reliably for the future. Our programme of infrastructure and rolling stock improvements will allow steam operation of the line to be restored over the whole length from Spring 2004 with reduced end to end journey times.'

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