"Failsafe brakes will not be fitted to Snaefell Mountain Railway tramcars before the start of the season, it’s been confirmed.

An accident investigation is continuing into last summer’s runaway tram incident when car no.2 lost power to its brakes and careered out of control across the Bungalow road crossing.

It was finally stopped using the manual fell brake. Passengers were left shaken but fortunately otherwise unhurt.

The Snaefell Mountain Railway starts its 2018 season at the end of March and a lot of work has been carried out over the winter to improve safety.

Public transport director Ian Longworth told a tram enthusiasts’ magazine that new failsafe brakes would be fitted over the winter.

This followed a fact-finding visit to mountain railways in the Alps."

"Isle of Man Transport told the Manx Independent that an electrically operated electromagnetic back-up braking system and a more modern mechanically assisted wheel brake are still in the design and procurement stages.

Describing this as a ’longer-term enhancement’, a spokesman said: ’These new systems will be installed on trial trams and will be rigorously tested prior to rolling them out onto the rest of the fleet.’

She added: ’The project of the failsafe brakes began about 18 months ago and is not related to the Snaefell event back in August.

’The failsafe brake project is ongoing but this work is not likely to be completed for another 16 to 20 weeks.’

But other measures have been put in place for the start of the season.

These include a regime of daily maintenance checks and tests with a pre-season detailed maintenance programme underway.

This covers a complete refurbishment and performance testing of the twin fell brake system that is unique to the line. Driver training and assessment have been ’revised, extended and enhanced’ over the winter period, the spokesman said.

This was to ensure that crews are ’familiar and fully aware of the operation of the systems and what they should do in the event of any situations that may develop in operation’.

The air pressure systems on the trams which control the electrical braking systems have been altered to make them simpler and more reliable in operation.

This includes a new low pressure alarm and revised indicators which have been installed on all operational trams.

Safety rules which govern the safe operation of the railway have been amended to prevent further operation if the pressure alarm activates during operation.

The Isle of Man Transport spokesman added: ’We are keen that the public understand how important it is to us to ensure the trams operate reliably and safely now and for the future."


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