Is the Snaefell Mountain Railway under an official prohibition notice?

Reports on the Isle of Man have suggested that the Snaefell Mountain Railway is under an official prohibition notice preventing its operation. This news has only just come into the public sphere but currently no official confirmation has been given that is the case. When the Snaefell Mountain Railway suspended operation in September 2017 it was thought that this was a decision taken by Isle of Man Railways in light of the concerns with the safe operation of the line but it appears that this may not now have been the case.

As has been widely reported the safety of the braking system used by the trams on the Snaefell Mountain Railway was thrown into the limelight in August 2017 when car no. 2 was unable to slow down on the approach to Bungalow causing it to cross the Mountain road. The tram was eventually brought to a halt by the on board crew using the fell brake system who were praised for their actions.

After an initial closure services resumed before a further decision was taken on 25th September which saw the season brought to a premature end to allow engineers to investigate further and to ensure further incidents of this kind didn’t occur. At the time no mention was made by either Isle of Man Railways or the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate that this was due to a prohibition order with these reports only being made now on the Isle of Man Today website.

Staff from Isle of Man Railways have been involved in visits to other similar lines in Europe, including Switzerland, with the view to installing new fail safe braking systems but it is not known how far advanced these plans are. If the reports of the prohibition notice are correct that it is highly unlikely services will be able to resume until new systems are in place. The season is due to recommence on 29th March.

In a statement quoted on the Isle of Man Today website the Department of Infrastructure were non-committal: “The department has engaged a range of specialist advisers and suppliers to determine what changes can be made to the Snaefell Mountain Railway trams to ensure their safety. An investigation being undertaken by the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate remains ongoing.”

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One Response to Is the Snaefell Mountain Railway under an official prohibition notice?

  1. David M says:

    Very interesting. You do have to take what appears in Isle of Man Today with a pinch of salt, although in this case I would be inclined to believe what is written. Personally I cannot see the trams being anywhere near being fitted with new fail safe braking systems yet.

    The original Fell Braking system is very good and, with proper maintenance and training, an effective way of bringing a car to a standstill. Will it be enough for the Health and Safety Inspectorate to allow operation if evidence of use of this braking system and the training and maintenance regime can be shown? If not I would be very surprised if the line opens in late March.

    The last couple of years have been awful for the Snaefell line what with the loss of car 3 in 2016 and last years incident. Thank goodness no one was hurt or killed in either event, however there was potential for loss of life on both occasions and this is likely to colour the decision making process when it comes to authorising reopening.