It has been announced that the Manx Electric Railway (along with the Isle of Man Steam Railway) will return to service later this month having not been running since March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The MER will be on limited operation only (Saturdays to Tuesdays) for a short-period until mid-September.
The Manx Electric Railway will run every Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from Saturday 25th July until Sunday 13th September. It will also be running on Bnak Holiday Friday 28th August. This coincides with the start of the school summer holidays on the Isle of Man and also the first visitors to the island from Guernsey. Isle of Man’s borders still remain largely closed to off-islanders although an air bridge has been agreed with Guernsey which is why all the publicity of the reopening is welcoming visitors from Guernsey!
A special Staycation timetable will run on all days which will see eight journeys from Derby Castle to Ramsey and back plus an additional Derby Castle to Laxey and return service at the end of the day. First departure from Derby Castle will be at 0940 and first from Ramsey at 1110. The final Derby Castle-Ramsey service leaves Douglas at 1510 returning south at 1640 with the extra Derby Castle-Laxey service timed at 1610 from Derby Castle and 1655 back from Laxey. This timetable looks as if it will call for four car sets each day it runs.
Drying out runs of the cars are due to start next week in preparation for the resumption of services.
Tim Baker MHK, Infrastructure Minister, said: “Despite the very limited visitor market we recognise the important and distinctive role the Heritage Railways plays in the Isle of Man experience, so we have taken the decision to reintroduce the MER and Steam Railway for the summer season. The railways bring a holiday feel to the Island and I am sure this news will be well received by Manx residents and visitors from Guernsey alike. It’s a limited four day a week timetable that coincides with the opening of the Laxey Wheel and other Manx National Heritage attractions around the Island on selected days over the summer.”
The Steam Railway will be running Thursday to Sunday each week from 23rd July to 13th September.
Although the MER and Steam Railway will be back in operation the Snaefell Mountain Railway is not expected to run in 2020 due to “financial and operational challenges”. With the SMR celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 it seems this will be a celebrations without any running. The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway will also likely not be operating at all this year.