Six brake failures on mountain trams – Manx government

SIX brake failures have occurred on the Snaefell Mountain Railway in the past five years, the Isle of Man government has admitted.

The figures were released following the latest incident, when Car No. 2 suffered a brake failure after it left the Summit terminus, as reported in our last issue.

Snaefell Mountain Railway Car No. 2 on April 15, 2013. BRIAN MORTIMER/CREATIVE COMMONS

The Manx Director of Public Transport Ian Longworth said that the tram had sustained a loss of rheostatic braking due to an interruption in the overhead electricity supply which occurred when the bow current collected momentarily lost contact with the overhead wire.

The crew attempted to apply the emergency manual Fell brake but were initially hampered in their attempts by a gap in the Fell rail at a road crossing near Bungalow station. They were eventually able to stop the vehicle after the recommencement of the Fell rail section.

However, passengers claimed that the minister had downplayed the incident, and insisted the tram had been out of control for much longer, before the fell rail stopped at the Bungalow crossing.

Following the incident, the speed limit on the 1-in-12 five-mile line was reduced from 12mph to 8mph.

However, on August 10, the Health & Safety at Work Inspectorate banned trams from operating following reports that trams were not adhering to the new speed limit.

The six incidents were disclosed after a reporter for the island’s commercial radio station 3FM submitted a Freedom of Information request, asking how many incidents involving a loss of control or brake failure on any rolling stock on the island’s electric railways had occurred.

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