Snaefell Mountain Railway services suspended

The Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate on the Isle of Man have ordered all service on the Snaefell Mountain Railway to be suspended in light of last week’s overrun incident on the line. Services had been running on the line – although at reduced frequencies – since the incident on Friday 4th August but after some trams failed to comply with the reduced speed which had been imposed the decision was made to stop all services until further notice.

It has now been confirmed that the car involved was no. 2 and as we reported last week it suffered a brake failure on the approach to Bungalow which caused it to overrun the stop crossing the road before the fell brake was used to bring it to a halt. Since the original statement was released by Isle of Man Transport reports in the local media have suggested that the incident was downplayed and that no. 2 travelled for a longer distance than suggested at a higher speed than usual.

An investigation was immediately launched into the brake failure but services did resume the following day. However the full timetable has not been operating with only a selected few public services running on each day.

The Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate imposed a reduced 8mph speed limit on the Snaefell Mountain Railway (instead of the usual 12mph) as part of the initial investigation but as part of a monitoring compliance it was found that some trams were failing to adhere to this speed limit. As a result the decision was taken late on Thursday 10th August to suspend all operations on the line.

The full statement from the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate reads: “Following an incident on the Snaefell Mountain Railway on the afternoon of Friday, August 4, 2017 and an urgent post incident review, a reduced speed limit of 8 miles per hour was introduced to facilitate the safe continuation of operations while the control system installed in the trams was examined. Normal line speed is 12mph. Monitoring of compliance with the reduced operating speed has, however, identified some failures to comply with this, and an immediate halt of operations on the Snaefell Mountain Railway has been applied by the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate. The prohibition will be lifted when the Snaefell Mountain Railway can demonstrate effective measures for ensuring compliance with the 8 mph speed limit. There will be no further comment from any party until the HSWI investigation is complete.”

Before any recriminations and accusations are levelled on the causes of this incident the most important thing now is that the investigation is completed thoroughly and that full confidence is restored in the historic service from Laxey to Snaefell Summit to allow a full resumption of operations.

* The full eyewitness report from the tram can be read at


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6 Responses to Snaefell Mountain Railway services suspended

  1. Kevin says:

    the crew must be praised for their actions in avoiding what could have been a very different outcome. As an outsider I would now think twice about using the line with the relatively poor safety record of late.
    It is a worrying trend the number of accidents on our Tramways of late, or do we only perceive this because we get to hear about them more?
    Mr. Longworth’s comments do concern me though. I understand he is playing down the incident because it probably seemed more dramatic than it is but it does make it look as though he is being dismissive. This isn’t a personal attack, don’t get me wrong, but I think words could be chosen more carefully.

  2. Combustible No 2 says:

    Having just looked on the Manx Electric Railway Society’s website, (20:40), I see they report that following further tests and speed checks the Health & Safety people have lifted the stop notice and that services are resuming, still subject to the reduced speed limit though.

  3. KenW says:

    You do have to wonder what difference a speed reduction of 4mph would make in the event of a similar incident happening with another car with only the Fell brake available and no Fell rail on the approach to the road crossing. When the cars’ equipment was upgraded in the 1990s you would have thought they would have fitted equipment that was fail safe. Until this incident I wasn’t aware that this wasn’t the case.

  4. Alan Kirkman says:

    I always thought that there was a compulsory stop downhill at the Bungalow. So there is more to this incident than we currently know and it would be wise not to speculate until all is revealed. There has NEVER been Fell rail across the road. so before the Aachen equipment was fitted there was only the Handbrake available there, with no problem for decades there.

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