“Services on the Snaefell Mountain Railway are subject to a formal prohibition notice, the Manx Independent has learned."
"A Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate investigation is still underway into a runaway tram incident in August when car no.2 lost power to its brakes after leaving the summit station.
It hurtled out of control over the crossing at the Bungalow before the motorman was finally able to bring it to a halt using the manual fell brake.
More than seven weeks after the incident, the Department of Infrastructure finally announced it was suspending services.
It said it was working with the HSWI ‘to identify a number of improvements as part of a comprehensive review’ and wanted to commit its engineering staff to dealing with these matters rather than support day-to-day operations.
The inference was this was a voluntary suspension. But the Manx Independent has learned that in fact the suspension was enforced by the HSWI.
Operations are under a formal prohibition notice and significant changes will be required, and safe operation demonstrated, before permission would be given by the Inspector of Railways for the line to re-open as planned in March.
One passenger on board the runaway tram in August was Nick Douglas who says he is ‘alarmed’ that IoM Transport has confirmed that failsafe brakes will not be fitted in time for the start of the season.
This is despite public transport director Ian Longworth telling a tram enthusiasts’ magazine in December that new failsafe brakes would be fitted over the winter.
Mr Douglas said from his home in Northern Ireland: ‘I am exceedingly alarmed.
‘They propose to operate without fail-safe brakes when they know they need them, because they can’t make them in time for their nominal season start date.
‘Do they not have legal obligations to uphold the safety of the travelling public? Does that public accept this blasé approach to their safety?’
Mr Douglas contacted Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer who told him: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any distress caused by the incident last year and can reassure you that we regard the safety of our passengers and staff as paramount.’
In his email, Mr Harmer said the operation of the trams had been reviewed in ‘great detail’ and his department has undertaken a ‘wide range of ongoing improvements that will ensure the safe operation of our tramway for the future’.
These included ‘detailed consideration of both the current range of braking systems and the possibility of upgraded equipment’.
Mr Harmer wrote that‘providing systems that fail to safety is a key part of that work’ – but it’s not clear whether he was referring to failsafe systems.”
He added: ‘We have engaged both specialist engineers and equipment suppliers from across the EU and await their advice.
‘I can assure you that no decision has been taken about what changes may be needed for next season.’
We asked the DoI to confirm the situation with the formal prohibition notice and what action would be needed before the prohibition could be lifted and the line could reopen. But in a statement, the DoI would say only:‘The department has engaged a range of specialist advisers and suppliers to determine what changes can be made to the Snaefell Mountain Railway trams to ensure their safety.
‘An investigation being undertaken by the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate remains ongoing.’