It has now transpired that the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate have ordered the Department of Infrastructure to fit failsafe brakes onto the trams of the Snaefell Mountain Railway before the 2019 season can start. The news has only just been reported on publicly and follows on from the incident in 2017 when a tram ran through the road crossing at Bungalow due to an issue with its brakes.
The Improvement Notice states that the failsafe brakes must be in place by 31st March which is immediately before the 2019 season is due to start. This notice was issued as long ago as 11th April 2018 but was not made public until recently reported on the Isle of Man Today website.
The notice says: “Significant improvements to equipment, maintenance procedures and operating instructions made following the investigation of an incident on the railway on August 4, 2017 have – subject to the application of appropriate maintenance and operational standards – significantly improved the levels of safety on Mountain Railway services. However, investigation of the incident by an independent railways engineer has identified that the installation of a fail to safe braking system would be a reasonably practicable measure. As no fail to safe systems are currently installed on Mountain Railway trams they are not therefore constructed to a level that is as safe as reasonably practicable.’
Each of the trams on the Snaefell Mountain Railway must not only have this system installed but it should also be tested to a documented test regime. The Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate will not permit any tram to enter service for 2019 until a report demonstrating the successful installation has been completed and supplied to them.
The Department for Infrastructure are quoted in the same article with a spokesman saying: “Maintenance improvements and design enhancements to the three separate existing braking and control systems were implemented as a consequence of the investigation. The development of the additional fail to safe track braking system was recommended by industry specialists and supported by the HSWI in preparation for the 2019 season.”
Hopefully the work can be completed within the next few months allowing services to resume as planned and that this will put an end to this saga with the SMR continuing to operate safely for many years to come.