Brake fault causes SMR tram to overrun Bunaglow stop

An investigation has been launched after a tram on the Snaefell Mountain Railway suffered a fault with its normal braking system which led to it overrunning the stop at Bungalow – and across the road – on a downward trip. The fault occurred at approximately 1445 on Friday 4th August with no passengers suffering injuries as a result.

The tram involved – details of which car it was have not been reported – was forming a service from the Summit to Laxey when the normal electric braking system failed as it approached Bungalow. As per normal procedures in circumstances such as this the crew applied the original fell brake but because of the road crossing there is no fell rail in this area. As soon as the car had travelled beyond the road the fell brake did operate and the tram was brought to a halt. At this point passengers were de-trammed and later were able to complete their journey on board another tram.

Ian Longworth, Director of Transport at Isle of Man Transport, is quoted on the Isle of Man Today website explaining the incident: “Around 1445 a car descending Snaefell suffered a loss of rheostatic braking. The rheostatic brakes depend on a continuous air and electricity supply. It does from time to time cut out such as when the bow collected loses contact with the overhead wire. This caused the crew to use the original 1895 fell brake and approaching the Bungalow there is no fell rail due to the road crossing. Once across the fell brake was reapplied and the car was stopped. The passengers, driver and brakeman were OK and transferred to another car to complete the journey. Our engineers will check through the tram to make sure all systems are correctly operating. I am also grateful that the crew followed the correct procedures in stopping the tram using the 1895 original Fell brake system.”

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4 Responses to Brake fault causes SMR tram to overrun Bunaglow stop

  1. KenW says:

    If as Mr Longworth says the rheostatic brakes are dependent on a continuous air and electricity supply in order to work that is worrying as it is clearly not fail safe. Normally interruption of the supply causes brakes to apply, not the opposite, certainly on railways. Is he talking from a position of ignorance?

    • Kevin says:

      Loss of power only causes brake application on modern Trams as traditional trams do not have a system of applying the brake in that situation. The only exception i think may be the all electric cars like the Blackpool centenary class. I don’t know about Snaefell but on a normal Tram the reheostatic will still work with no power as it turns the motors to dynamos and causes a braking effect. I suspect the Aachen upgrade uses a different electric brake system which possibly does rely on constant current.

  2. Kevin says:

    Is it just me or is the fact that it happens from time to time slightly worrying and the slightly gung ho comment? I suppose it wouldn’t be an issue where the fell brake is but the approach to the road crossings worries me!

  3. Steve_Hyde says:

    I may be wrong but I think that the ex Aachen control system uses electro-pneumatic contactors and therefore will require an air supply to operate. That would mean that the air compressor would need a power supply to keep the pressure up. I seem to recall reading this in an account of the conversion in one of my books on the Manx Electric Railway.