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Petition to Re-Open the Douglas to Peel Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by IMR8, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. Mike Buttell

    Mike Buttell New Member

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    For the size and population of the island, public transport is superb, an every 15 minute bus service goes south from Douglas 6 days a week, every 20 minutes to Peel and every hour to Ramsey and the North. Modern Merc buses too with WiFi. That’s in addition to the trains and trams. Even places like The Sound, Niarbyl and Foxdale have a good bus service. It’s a bit more complex north of Ramsey though with Dial a ride outside peak times. A five day all transport pass is an absolute bargain.
    And Peel line reopeners take note, the Bus route is never more than two fields away from the old rail formation, and picks up almost from your doorstep, dropping you off almost at work. No walking half a mile in the rain to the station then from Douglas terminus to your workplace.
     
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  2. QuornYard

    QuornYard New Member

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    Yes, but a third of the price of the IoM though (1 adult 1 car), and 45 minutes journey as opposed to 3 1/2 hours, only two sailings per day. My point is that you have to really want to go to the IoM to justify the journey, and my experience is that it puts people off. As is shown by nearly all of the B&Bs and hotels along Douglas prom being converted to apartments, offices, etc. A shame IMHO as I think it's a fabulous place with so much to see and do.
     
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  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    From flying to Scotland then hiring a car I can tell you that it isnt cheap.

    Clearly what many visitors may not realize - or be willing to consider is the quality of the bus - and rail services which may well negate the need to hire a car
     
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  4. Mike Buttell

    Mike Buttell New Member

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    And I forgot to add, services by bus late into the night (early mornings at weekends) and buses to connect with the earliest of sailings and flights. Evenings also see the superb Dining trains several nights a week in peak season.
     
  5. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    When it comes to upping tourist numbers, my starting point might be to ask basic questions, such as: What does the IoM already have to offer? (That's beyond just the railways folks!) ... and I don't just mean specific attractions.

    I'll kick this one off with a thought: if there's one answer head and shoulders above the rest IMO, it's that the IoM is a very safe destination. Important for the family market, with youngsters in tow. I honestly don't think enough is made of this consideration. If that's an accurate assessment, why aren't numbers higher?
     
  6. 60044

    60044 Member

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    Why do people flock to southern europe for their holidays? It don't believe it's for the paella, moussaka, slivovic retsina, ouzo etc. It's for the weather and price and yhose have to be tackled head on, hence my mention of the world's largest indoor beach. Even the mighty mouse has struggled in Paris with EuroDisney, suggesting that even a theme park would need to be largely under cover (although even being located near Stoke hasn't put too much of a dampener on Alton Towers.
     
  7. kscanes

    kscanes Resident of Nat Pres

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    Let's recap.

    Some people would like to see the Douglas Peel railway line re-open and do not see it as a fantasy.

    Traffic would come from two sources:
    1. Commuters from Peel to Douglas. How many are there actually?
    2. Tourists traveling from Douglas to view the charms of Peel.

    It seems to be tacitly accepted that there would currently be insufficient numbers to justify the re-opening, so it is going to be necessary to increase tourist numbers on the island to justify the fantasy.

    How shall they increase the tourist numbers? By concreting over the flat (do I hear boring?) North West to build leisure villages. About as far from Peel as you can get. How does that increase potential traffic between Peel and Douglas? When I drove round the north west a couple of years ago it reminded me of some of the wilder areas of the North Norfolk coast line. Quite a lot of wildlife and not many people. You would destroy that to play trains?

    And how are we going to get these thousands of visitors in? By aircraft! Newsflash, St Greta may object. It's not environmentally friendly. And anyway how much increase in traffic can Ronaldsway take? Will we next see a petition for a second runway?

    Moving on .... we've brought our thousands of tourists in at Ronaldsway and we need to get them to the north west. How? Whatever route they take I rather doubt it will include Peel to Douglas or Douglas to Peel. (The same applies if they come in by ferry.) No increase in potential traffic there.

    As an aside, if I wanted to increase tourist income on the Isle of Man, I would not attempt it by increasing numbers of tourists I would attempt it by increasing the amount that existing numbers of tourists spend. I would try to move everything upmarket. Increasing the numbers just ruins an area. The more people who flock to an area to view its charms, the less charms there are to view. See for instance the eastern Lake District for details.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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  8. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    For the rest, a reasonable analysis ... but that last paragraph .....

    Comment has been made about the cost of getting to the IoM in the first place, so yer actual captive market may feel a bit differently about being fleeced targeted encouraged to spend even more per head. Then there's the awkward question 'spend it on what exactly?'. Maybe the IMR could upgrade all it's 3rds to 2nds and jack the ticket price accordingly ..... nope, that won't fly. Hows about a casino of two? There are a few suitable buildings, but prying the punters out for a train trip might prove problematic, so that's probs a non-starter too. Going upmarket? ..... how, precisely?

    The IoM's tourism numbers (along with much of the 'domestic' market on 'the adjacent islands' - there you go Ray, I did listen!) nosedived with the advent of the cheap package holiday in the sun. Lest we forget ... that's when the Peel and Ramsey lines finally gave up the ghost. Coincidence? Unlikely.

    On overall numbers, I'm going to disagree. Concreting acres for theme parks ..... ugh!!! Wouldn't want that here (Brighton), never mind wrecking the unique character of the IoM. All else aside, chucking megabucks at purely speculative developments is, frankly, insane. If that's not the definition of putting the cart before tbe horse .....

    The TT ..... head and shoulders, the big annual money spinner .... proves a couple of things, namely that the Island can more than cope with both organising large scale events and has the accommodation capacity to do so. That being the case (no 'ifs', no 'buts' here), filling even a fair proportion of that capacity for the rest of the season seems a logical starting point. Nope, I'm not suggesting a longer TT themed season (for bob's sake .... could you imagine living with that all season long?).

    There's nowt to be done about the weather and (MER toastracks aside) a train trip's a good option when it's raining, the problem is the Island attracting enough visitors wanting to make such a trip in the first place. Us lot need to see beyond our collective obsession. Just because we'll climb over hot coals to see something powered by hot coals doesn't mean yer average tourist feels the same .... and make no mistake, they're a far more significant market than us lot!
     
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  9. 60044

    60044 Member

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    Some of you are making the mistake of ignoring thread drift in your eagerness to write scornful sarcasm but what I've written really has nothing to do with any of the railways, real or imagined. The fact is that they are not, by themselves, sufficient to sustain a thriving tourist industry, they are part of a dying industry. If the IoM is to have a thriving tourist industry it has to look at what it can do to attract more visitors in the first place and whilst the railways may thrive on the back of other developments, the converse is rather less likely.

    It may be that the IoM doesn't have to change, and maybe doesn't need to - perhaps it can step up its activities as a tax haven and that will suffice to meet its needs - but if it truly wants to have a thriving tourist industry it needs to look at what different market segments want, pick the ones it wants to aim at and encourage development in the chosen area(s). There isn't a black or white answer and as with most things in life a compromise will probably work best.
     
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  10. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    So there seem to be two main idea floating about here: developing one or more self-contained 'holiday villages'; or 'going upmarket' and trying to persaude existing tourists to spend more. I would like to point out that both of these ideas have been tried before!

    The 'going upmarket' idea was very much the stratgy of the IoM's tourist authorities in the 1990s. I have no idea how successful the policy was overall, but my understanding is that it didn't do much to increase passenger numbers on the railways. Fortunately, at that time Robert Smith (then transport supremo on the IoM) found a way around that by staging the enthusiast-orientated mega-galas in 1993, 1995 and 1998, thus bringing in large numbers of enthusiasts specificially to visit the railways. I suspect that events on that scale would be more difficult to replicate today however, and in any case, it would be difficult for them to achieve the same impact as much of the novelty value will have worn off.

    As for the 'holiday village' concept: that was the objective of the Summerland development at Douglas in the '70s. The idea was to try to compete with the sunny Spanish resorts by creating an indoor, all-weather resort. Sadly, the infamous Summerland fire brought a premature end to the experiment; we will never know how successful it might otherwise have been in the long term.

    However...I think the time may soon be ripe to have another go. Even if the airline industry survives the pandemic, it is becoming pretty clear that from an environmental viewpoint, budget flights are not sustainable. One way or another, governments will eventually have to wake up and find ways to curb them, and that could put overseas resorts like Spain out of reach for many. The Island could stand to benefit from that - although, as has been pointed out, the high cost of ferries many still be a deterrent for some.
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm seeing nothing here about who these tourists may be that should be drawn to the Isle of Man, which does have rather a large influence on the type of facilities and marketing you'd want to follow through on - and what budgets they may have. Feedback from friends who've been for family holidays is that Man was both expensive and inflexible compared to similar UK destinations/accommodation, because of the cost of the sea crossing. Feedback from my family is that, wherever we go, the limit for railway based days out is 1 day in a trip, unless they can clearly be linked to other activities and demonstrate value for money. And, like discussions about visits to the Isles of Wight and Purbeck (but strangely not Mull), the constraint of being in a small place and to struggle to go further afield if the local attractions aren't attractive is a major deterrent.
     
  12. 60044

    60044 Member

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    The trouble with transport galas and the like is that they only last a few days when what is needed is a season long attraction. Summerland was perhaps a very early step on the right lines but was too small to ever succeed in the "indoor beach" stakes. For that it is necessary to think huge or immense, not just big, otherwise ones local leisure centre. I'm thinking more in terms of the Eden Project, built as a water park. And whilst the cost of travel to the IoM is high it seems to me that (at least in the case of air fares) it is artificially so. If one can fly to the Costa de Sol cheaply then why not Ronaldsway if the plane is full?
     
  13. IMR8

    IMR8 New Member

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  14. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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  15. IMR8

    IMR8 New Member

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    WIBN always made me laugh, since I first heard it here. The sort of jargon dreamt up by some self important ar*eh*le. The sort of people that love to tell you why this won't happen and why that can't be done, to make themselves look and feel important.

    Remember, a lot of things in existence can be categorized as 'WIBN'. And alot of arguments against Peel re-opening could be used for closing Port Erin. I think we should be careful what we wish for, and be thankful those behind this are pro Railway. We could easily have IoM Newspapers covering a petition to close the South Line.

    And, sadly, I think some MHKs might get behind that one!
     
  16. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    Sentimentalism can be very expensive .
     
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  17. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure that the originator of the term (a regular contributor here) would be interested to hear himself described as "some self important as*eh*le". Many of us on here have a long history of involvement in the heritage transport sector and can distinguish between someone's pipedream and a realistic proposal. I've been involved since 1966 and still volunteer on two railways.
    You state "alot of arguments against Peel re-opening could be used for closing Port Erin" - which ones? Missing bridges? Trackbed built over? Essential services buried under the trackbed? IoM Gov. have made it quite clear that they see the remaining Peel line trackbed being used as a cycleway and long sections have recently been resurfaced.
    The whole proposal is vague with no clear idea of purpose or how it would be funded.
    Ray.
     
  18. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Translation: Local rag has published piece based on copy provided by group. WIth the aid of that publicity, the petition has attracted 436 signatures (as I write) - if all the signatories were Manx residents, that would still only be half of 1 percent of the population willing to spend 30 seconds to go online and click a petition.

    Noting all of the other comments by others, I'll be far more willing to take this seriously if I see real activity resulting in something tangible, rather than what looks like a one man band trying to persuade the government to change transport policy. And even then, deferring to people who are pro-rail and have local knowledge, I'm still not convinced that reinstatement as a railway is practical, viable or even desirable.
     
  19. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Might reinstatement of a mile or two at the Douglas end for a park-and-ride facility make any sense at all? (N.B. I am not claiming that it would make sense, just asking.)
     
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  20. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    I think there is a lot of unnecessary vitriol on here.
    Equally, I don't think there is a market - yet - for reopening. I would *love* the Ramsey line to be re-opened, as I could go and watch the ManxGP somewhere else, but who is going to run it/pay for it etc. The Island may have some rich people on it, but it is not rich per se.

    The TT and the Manx are a double-edged sword - the island can (for 4 weeks a year) cope with a huge influx of tourism. But 4 weeks a year doesn't pay for eg hotel capacity, so homestay fills the gap. It would be better from a logistic point of view to spread it over longer, it would pay for more infrastructure.

    I don't think the island is dying, but it's not growing either. This year's lockdown isn't helping.
    I think to go forward, it needs to cater for more events - cycle race on the TT course? (been done before).

    At the moment, preserving the route as s cycleway seems good to me, especially if they put the big viaduct back, as it keeps the piers maintained
     
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