Isle of Man Railways have now confirmed the details of the annual Manx Heritage Transport Festival which this year takes place between 30th July and 3rd August. As always the event features events across the Island’s railways including the Steam Railway and of course the Manx Electric Railway and this year the leaflet produced also mentions the Douglas Horse Tramway. The MER will feature heavily on Wednesday 30th July, Thursday 31st July, Friday 1st August and Sunday 3rd August with another inventive and interesting programme of events planned.
On the first day of the event – Wednesday 30th July – there will be a special evening service in operation on the Manx Electric Railway with departures from Derby Castle at 1800, 1940 and 2120. Each service will feature a different tram and these services will be extended through to Bulgham instead of Laxey for photo stops to add a bit of further interest. And to make it even better normal fares apply including Explorer tickets. The evening will also see a Snaefell Summit Dinner but as usual the Snaefell Mountain Railway will only be running if you are having some food at the summit.
Thursday 31st July is the main Manx Electric Railway day with a packed schedule of events planned. There will be an intensive service running between Derby Castle and Laxey. This will use Timetable D with extras and just to add even more interest trams will leave Douglas in numerical order starting with no. 1 which will include the driver and conductor in period dress. Another added attraction of this service will be the departure of the two blue trams simultaneously from Laxey Station: MER 7 and SMR 1.
This day will also see the MER Wickham railcar running shuttle trips from Derby Castle to the car sheds every 20 minutes between 1100 and 1300. Derby Castle sheds will also be a hive of activity with tours being offered including a brief history of Derby Castle Yard and a chance to take a look at some of the trams no longer part of the operational fleet. There will be nine tours during the day and tickets need to be purchased costing £5.
The remainder of the day will see the traditional Stamps on the MER conveyance using Mail Van 4 from Derby Castle and Laxey and newly restored MER Wagon 10 will be on display at Laxey along with the Snaefell Tower Wagon, Snaefell Flat Wagon and two mail vans (under restoration).
Although Friday 1st August is mainly concentrated on the Steam Railway the evening will see a special charity trip on the MER. Entitled “The Power Trip” and organised by the manxelectricrailway.co.uk team this tour will utilise 16 and 60 on a tour which will enable participants to take a look at the MER’s electrical equipment. Departing Derby Castle at 1800 it will stop at Groudle, South Cape water tower, Laxey substations, site of Minorca test house and feeder point, Ballagorry substation, Ballaglass power station and Belle Vue substation before arriving at Ramsey at 2000. A departure from the northern terminus at 2015 will see the trams head to Laxey where there will be a refreshment break before departing at 2145 and finally arriving back at Derby Castle at 2215. Tickets for this tour can only be booked at Derby Castle booking office costing £10.
Saturday 2nd August is again mainly a Steam Railway day although some more stamps will be transported on board trams with the Snaefell Mountain Railway doing the honours of transporting the precious cargo this time.
The fifth and final day of the event on Sunday 3rd August will again see the MER take centre stage with an enhanced Sunday service using timetable D plus additional. A tram will leave Derby Castle every 15 minutes to Ramsey between 0940 and 1210 before a 30 minute northbound frequency is offered. Coming from Ramsey the opposite frequency is offered with a tram every 30 minutes from 1010 to 1455 and then every 15 minutes. A full timetable will be available on request from Derby Castle, Laxey and Ramsey.
The first official trip using recently restored MER Wagon 10 will also take place between Derby Castle and Ramsey, departing at 0955 behind car 16. 10 was one of five similar four-wheel open wagons built in the winter of 1897/98 by G F Milnes and Company and has now been restored by members of the Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust.
Sunday 3rd August also sees Motorman lessons being offered at Ramsey. Car 16 will again be used for these with the chance to drive it between Ramsey and Lewaiguie. There will only be 25 places available with booking required at Derby Castle booking office with a £10 charge.
Isle of Man Transport Explorer tickets will be valid on the majority of events described above (those with extra charges are mentioned). These excellent value tickets can be purchased from the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal amongst other places. A 7 day Adult Explorer ticket costs £47 with a 5 day version being £39, 3 day £32 and 1 day £16.
* Full details of the Isle of Man Heritage Transport Festival (including all events not only tram based ones) will be added to the Events Diary in due course or you could download the official leaflet at http://issuu.com/tiawood/docs/iomrail_2014_transportfestival_dl_f?e=9055959/7745455