There has been no shortage of excitement for tram enthusiasts on the Isle of Man recently, with Santa Specials on two of the island’s three tramways proving to be a big highlight of the normally uneventful winter months. Both the Manx Electric Railway and the Douglas Corporation Tramway have operated special service in the run-up to Christmas, which appear to have been very well received.
The MER have operated some of their enclosed trams at weekends, with appropriate decorations including banners informing potential passengers that they can catch the tram to visit Father Christmas. The use of trailers has been a particularly positive move, indicating healthy passenger loadings, and hopefully the tradition of Christmas specials running on this system will now become an annual event after a few years off. With the welcome decision to operate a ‘normal’ tram service over three days in December, Saturday 22nd December should be particularly good day on the MER with a winter service operating alongside the Santa Specials, at a time when most heritage tramways have entered winter hibernation mode!
The horse trams at Douglas have not been left out, with their own Santa Trams operating on just one weekend, 15th & 16th December. This year enclosed saloon car 1 was chosen for this important role, and was specially decorated with coloured lights applied tastefully over the wheels and around its windows and dash panels. Internally, fake icicles were hung from the ceiling to create a novel attraction. Even the horses joined in with the festive spirit by wearing mini antlers!
With such great success achieved on this small island, the poor takings on Blackpool Transport’s ‘Santa Express’ has been all the more disapointing, although on a positive note the company have now changed its publicity material, advising that it is no longer necessary to pre-book a place on the tours. Presumably this is in response to the pitiful passenger numbers – indeed at least two tours have ran completely empty in the last two weeks. These trips, utilising the Western Train 733+734 are due to run for the final time this year on Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd December, and unless there is considerably more interest this time, it is hard to envisgae a repeat performance next year.