Isle of Man horse tram track delay 'utter shambles', says MHK

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Horse tram on Douglas Promenade
Image caption,
The island's traditional horse tramway is being refurbished

The full reinstatement of the Isle of Man's horse tramway along Douglas seafront may not be completed until 2023, the infrastructure minister has said.

Ray Harmer told Tynwald the tracks would not be laid at the same time as the refurbishment of the carriageway.

That element of the £25m project is now due to be complete by April 2021.

Douglas East MHK Chris Robertshaw described the situation as a "total and utter shambles".

Mr Harmer said the final section of track may not be started until the winter of 2022.

The "very complex" project could not be carried out at the same time as the carriageway works as the tracks relied on welding joints from the UK, which were "not easily available at the moment", he said.

While the line would be extended to the junction with Broadway by Easter next year, extending the tracks to the war memorial "may have to wait until the following winter", he said.

Installing a single line on the seaward side of the roadway to the Sea Terminal would be "laid after that", he added.

Image source, DOI
Image caption,
The trams ran on a reduced track during the summer

The promenade refurbishment scheme has been accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic with the aim of reducing disruption for businesses during the 2021 tourist season.

Garff MHK Daphne Caine asked if the minister was "setting up the horse trams to fail for several years".

The delay would be "failing to serve visitors who stay at the Loch Promenade hotels and any cruise visitors during the period", she said.

Criticising a lack of communication over the changes to the timescale, Mr Robertshaw said it was "quite frankly a shambles, a total and utter shambles".

"I am disgusted with the way the department is treating this whole matter," he added.

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