1. ITV Report

Investigation launched into IoM electric tram brake failure

Car No.2 was built in 1895. Photo:

An investigation has been launched into what caused an electric tram full of passengers to derail on the Isle of Man.

On Friday afternoon the tram failed to stop at the Bungalow Station, before rolling downhill after emergency brakes were applied.

It’s believed the cause was due to a brake failure, with the tram driver switching to a previously used system from the 19th century.

In a statement the Manx Electric Railway Society said:

It was the 1895 Fell brake which saved the lives of those on Car No.2 on Friday 4th August 2017 when following apparent failure of the electro mechanical Aachen brake the crew of the tram struggled manfully to apply the Fell brake in circumstances in which witnesses suggest they could easily have been thrown from the platforms by the jolting of the tram thundering down the Mountain at speed. Before they applied themselves to the Fell brake there would have been a period in which the motorman was trying to get the electro mechanical brake to work and in itself this will have produced a time penalty in which the car accelerated and the application of the Fell brake became a much more difficult task.

– Isle of Man MER Society
Car No.2 pictured in 1949. Credit:

The MER called for an investigation to be conducted by "an organisation totally independent of the Isle of Man Government."

This is the second incident to occur in the same year, when a tram with no passengers failed to stop on the Mountain Road in March, crossing past vehicles before crashing into Snaefell.

There was also a previous crash in July 2016 in Laxey which resulted in the complete destruction of the tram.

A tram is smashed to pieces after derailing in 2016. Credit: MER Society

Instead of those in charge simply congratulating themselves for a “near miss” we call for a police investigation of what has happened in the recent incident. Had a loaded bus suffered a catastrophic brake failure causing it to hurtle down Minorca Hill there would have been a police investigation. Had this tram left the rails and tragedy occurred there would have been a police manslaughter investigation. This tram crossed the Mountain Road at speed, at right angles to the traffic (we know from survivors accounts there was traffic on the road). This was a dangerous incident in which the lives of the travelling public were threatened and people were put in terror.

– Isle of Man MER Society

The Department of Infrastructure's Acting Minister David Anderson MLC said that the department is taking the matter "very seriously" and the review would reveal "lessons to be learnt."