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Douglas to Peel Train


studmuffin
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If it were to be done, it ought to be given to volunteers. If anyone has any doubts what volunteer projects can achieve, volunteers restoring the Ffestiniog Railway constructed 2.5 miles of completely new railway, including a 280 metre long tunnel, in order to bye-pass a reservoir and hydro-electric power station and bring the narrow gauge line back into Blaenau Ffestiniog. Obviously, the Island only has a limited pool of volunteer labour, but don't underestimate the zeal of the railway enthusiast. On the Ffestiniog project, work parties from all over Britain came and were prepared to endure primitive bunk-house accommodation near the route. Free off-peak tickets on the ferry might help, given the Steam Packet's stake in tourism.

 

The route into Douglas hasn't been completely obliterated, and green field land adjoins the section used for the new TT access road. The thing to do would be to start with the easiest section, where an unobstructed track bed exists, as stud muffin suggests. A bus could link Douglas Railway Station to the start point.

I watched that last night on BBC 3 (I think) great programme - that's what got me thinking about the Peel line. That was a proper labour of love for those volunteers. As you say, they had hundreds turn up to help.

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The Peel line seems to have been double tracks, so if it was relaid as single track, then there would be room for walkers & cyclists too.

 

Photo survey along the line:

 

http://www.deuchars.org.uk/iom/douglaspeel.htm

 

From Wikipedia:

 

"This was the first railway line to be opened on the island in 1873 and was operational continually until September 1968, with the exception of 1966 when the entire network was closed. The line is today retained as a footpath and bridleway and is 11.5 miles long. Since the rails were lifted in 1975, there has often been talk of resurrecting this line, which out of the closed lines would be the most viable. Since closure there have been several service mains buried under the trackbed, including gas and telephone mains, but pains are always taken to ensure that the trackbed is returned in such a way that the railway could be reinstated. There are two notable examples of this, firstly at Quarterbridge where the railway ran parallel to the T.T. course where an access road was built on the trackbed in 1991, and secondly at the station of St John's where a primary school and housing complex have been developed since 2001. Both of these developments have been built in such a way to ensure the line could be reinstated, albeit that any station at St John's would have to be significantly relocated. During the First World War there was a branch extending from a mid-way point between Peel and St John's stations to the farm of Knockaloe in connection with prisoners of war who were interned there. The stations are listed to the right. At the terminus of Peel a large heritage centre has been built, partly using the old goods shed and station building. The brickworks office and water tower remain in place at the mouth of the yard and are occupied by the Manx Transport Museum Group, and the station site itself is now a car park for the heritage centre. It would not be unfeasible however to reinstate some form of station here in the future as needs required."

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Nice thought but it won't happen. I was at Ffestiniog too at the time and they were great days, but I'm not sure the young are quite as enthralled as we were then. Steam isn't a thing of their childhood so there is no nostalgic resonance with them. I do wonder what will happen to many of the steam railways across as the volunteers are becoming older and older. There are some spectacularly enthusiastic youngsters in the railway fraternity but I doubt that there are enough of them to staff all of the preservation movements. Plenty of people still want to ride but as with many things nowadays, the vast majority don't want to do the hard work every weekend.

 

Lots of preserved transport, including buses looking for homes as their enthusiastic preservers of yesteryear die off and the family wants to get rid.

Edited by woolley
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