“Isle of Man Transport closed its Heritage Railways for the season on the 5 November with the fantastic news that they had carried a record number of passengers from March to November 2017.
The Steam Railway, Manx Electric Railway, Snaefell Mountain Railway and Douglas Bay Horse Tram saw a combined 13% increase in passengers, amounting to 512,847 passenger journeys - 65,949 more than in 2016.
Ian Longworth, Director of Transport Services, said:
‘I am delighted with the figures, which are a true testament to the hard work put in by the staff and volunteers. Even with some scheduling restrictions on the services, we have managed to outperform previous years. For example, in spite of the shorter season on the Snaefell Mountain Railway there was a brilliant 27% increase, amounting to 16,770 extra passenger journeys when comparing year on year.’
One of the main contributors to the increase in passengers is the growing market in group travel through coach trips and cruises.
Jason Moorhouse MHK, Department Member with responsibility for the Transport Services Division said:
‘It’s great to see both tourists and residents using the railways. We are so fortunate to have such unique attractions.’
IoM Transport is now turning its attention to its popular festive season events and dining car experiences. There are 14 exclusive events on offer during the holiday period and further details are available at www.rail.im
Mr Longworth continued:
‘We are now planning for the 2018 season, with a particular focus on some spectacular events such as the 125 year celebration of the Manx Electric Railway.’
Isle of Man Transport also offers a range of Christmas gift ideas, including the unlimited platinum cards which provide unlimited annual travel on the horse trams from as little as £20. Visit the Welcome Centre to purchase the cards and other great transport gifts and ideas.”
The Press Release can be viewed on the DOI Website.
The Manx Electric Railway Society welcomes the increase in passenger numbers which did not come without some problems or difficulties which seemed to be prevalent throughout the season. Many hopeful travellers were disappointed at not being able to get a seat due to block booking of the service cars for private parties and cruise ship passengers. A number of negative reviews which highlight this problem are available to view on the Tripadvisor website.
For many years private parties were accommodated on special car sets which operated in addition to the advertised timetable, the use of extra cars appears to be largely abandoned. The SMR has also suffered from capacity problems due to a lack of serviceable cars, prior to the suspension of services in the wake of the serious runaway incident which occurred in August. On several occasions only one SMR car was available for service. Click HERE for more information.
If the department can deal with these issues next season, then we can look to even greater numbers in future.
It has already been well documented that the Manx Electric Railway Society, was without any consultation removed from the Department of Infrastructure’s mailing list for official press releases, possibly because Mr Longworth does not agree with us on a number of important and key issues. We opposed the DOI’s schemes to demolish, sell off or irreversibly modernise the Island's transport heritage (e.g. Laxey MER Station, Douglas and Port Erin IMR stations, the Loch Prom section of the Douglas Horse Tramway, Douglas Horse Tramway depot and stables, sale of six horse trams, the demolition of Ramsey Car and Goods Sheds and the proposed transformation of Ramsey MER Station to become a Transport Interchange.
Many of the Department's Press Releases are used to publicise the events which involve the Island's railways. In the past the MERS was more than happy to lend support in terms of publicity, as one of the principal aims of the Society is to actively promote interest in the Island's tramways.