The Isle of Man is located at the heart of the British Isles, putting it within easy reach of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Flights operate to the Island from many of the regional airports in the British Isles, or alternatively ferries sail from Liverpool, Heysham, Dublin and Belfast.
Isle of Man Airport (Manx: Purt Aer Vannin) (IATA: IOM, ICAO: EGNS) (also known as Ronaldsway Airport) is the main civilian airport of the Isle of Man. It is located to the south of the island at Ronaldsway near Castletown, 6 NM (11 km; 6.9 mi) southwest of Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man. It is one of the two main gateways to the Isle of Man, the other one being the Isle of Man Sea Terminal. The airport has scheduled services to the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Ronaldsway was first used as an airfield in 1928 with passenger services to the UK starting in 1933, operated by Blackpool and West Coast Air Services (later West Coast Air Services). Further services were established by Aer Lingus and Railway Air Services (RAS) from 1934. From 1937 RAS operations from Ronaldsway to the mainland UK were transferred to Isle of Man Air Services. In a 1936 expansion of the Ronaldsway Airport, workers discovered a mass grave believed to hold the remains of soldiers who died during the Battle of Ronaldsway in 1275.
Manx2 was launched on 11 May 2006 with services starting on 15 July. It is owned by Noel Hayes (Chairman). Manx2 was founded by the team who set up the Blue Islands airline, which serves the Channel Islands.
On 11 July 2006 Manx2 took delivery of its first aircraft, a Let L-410 registered HA-YFG, painted in the new corporate colours of Manx2. The aircraft was initially operated by 'BASe Air Kft' (Budapest Air Services) under the call sign 'Base' and the flight code 'BPS'. The first three routes to be announced by Manx2 were from the Isle of Man to Belfast International Airport and Blackpool International Airport on 15 July, followed by Leeds Bradford International Airport on 12 August.
Manx2 introduced the BAe Jetstream 31 into their fleet in September 2006 with the aircraft being operated by Jetstream Executive Travel. Initially only one J31 was added to the fleet to operate the Isle of Man to Leeds-Bradford service.
Since then Manx2 have added a Fairchild Metroliner from FLM Aviation to their fleet and extended their route network to include Belfast City Airport. Routes to Belfast City Airport, Belfast International and Blackpool International Airport are now flown by two Let L-410aircraft from EEC operator VanAir Europe with registrations OK-UBA and OK-RDA.
On September 3, 2007, Manx2 launched a new twice-daily service connecting Manx2's base on the Isle of Man with Gloucestershire Airport, based 3 minutes from the M5 motorway at Staverton between Gloucester and Cheltenham at the gateway to the Cotswolds and within an hour of many major cities such as Birmingham and Bristol. This route now competes with Flybe who fly to Birmingham. The route also has an extension to Jersey on Fridays and Sundays.
For 2008 Manx 2 added two Dornier 228 aircraft to its fleet (D-IFLM and D-CMNX)and carried 100,000 passengers that year. A third Do 228 (D-ILKA) was added in 2009. In 2009 Manx2 announced it had carried its 250,000th passenger. It has also announced an increased frequency to five flights daily on its main route from Blackpool International Airport and additional flights to Belfast City Airport.
The flagship route to Blackpool is now available with up to 10 flights per day while their Belfast City flights have surpassed the former Island flag carrier's numbers. A new base has now been established at Belfast city Airport with additional frequency to the IOM and Cork. The Leeds Bradford Airport route also operates up to twice daily. The Gloucester route is operated every weekday morning and evening and has been a great success with the benefit of permanent free parking at Gloucester (M5) Airport. In August 2009 Manx2.com started a new route to Newcastle Airport and in May 2010 succeeded in tendering for a 7 month PSO contract to operate the Cardiff-Anglesey route for the Welsh assembly Government.
Shortly thereafter Manx2.com launched a service from Galway to Belfast and the Isle of Man and in September 2010 a double daily service between Belfast and Cork was launched.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (Manx: Sheshaght Phaggad Bree Ellan Vannin) is the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world, celebrating its 180th anniversary in 2010.
The company provides freight, passenger and vehicle services between the Isle of Man Sea Terminal, in Douglas, Isle of Man and five ports in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
The Steam Packet Company is currently part of Macquarie Bank, an Australian investment bank.
The Steam Packet Company is required to fulfil the terms of a User Agreement negotiated with the IOM Government's Department of Transport. Under the 2004 extension of the Agreement, the following minimum service levels are required:
On 30 June 1830, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was born when the brand new vessel, Mona’s Isle, built at a cost of £7,250, sailed from Douglas to Liverpool on its very first sailing.
The Isle of Man Railway (IMR) is a narrow gauge steam-operated railway connecting Douglas with Castletown and Port Erin in the Isle of Man, and branded as the Isle of Man Steam Railway. The line is built to 3-foot-gauge (914 mm) and is 15.3 miles (24.6 km) long. It is part of what was a much larger network that once served the westerly town of Peel, the northern town of Ramsey and the small mining village of Foxdale and at one time the lines covered in excess of 46 miles which was a considerable amount on an island as small as the Isle of Man. Despite now being in government ownership, it still uses the original historic rolling stock and locomotives and there are few concessions to modernity.
The line from Douglas to Port Erin is the last remaining part of the former 46-mile (74-km) system owned by the Isle of Man Railway Company, formed in 1870. Its first line, from Douglas to Peel, was opened on 1 July 1873, and was followed by the Port Erin line on 1 August 1874. Initially the Port Erin line had been planned to terminate at Castletown however the construction of deep water docking facilities at Port Erin caused an extension to the line, a few years after completion, the dock was destroyed by heavy seas and the idea of deep water vessels abandoned there.
A third line was built in 1878-1879 by a separate company, the Manx Northern Railway which ran from St John's to Ramsey. A further short line was constructed from St John's to Foxdale in 1885 to serve the lead mines there. Although it was built by the nominally independent Foxdale Railway, the line was leased to and operated by the Manx Northern. The loss of the mineral traffic from Foxdale and competition for the Douglas-Ramsey passenger traffic from the Manx Electric Railway placed the Manx Northern Railway in financial difficulties. It was taken over and operated as part of the Isle of Man Railway in 1904. During the mid-1920s the Isle of Man Railway formed a bus subsidiary which operated most of the Island's bus services, and helped the railway to remain profitable into the 1960s.
Following the closure of the County Donegal Railways in 1960, the Isle of Man Railway purchased the CDR's two most modern diesel railcars, which were then largely used on the Peel line. The whole system closed after the 1965 season but was briefly revived when the Marquess of Ailsa obtained a lease and reopened all three routes for a final time in 1967. Both the Peel and Ramsey lines shut following the 1968 season, but Ailsa continued to operate freight services between Peel and Milntown until mid-1969, and passenger service on the South Line for three more seasons quitting after the 1971 season. Empty Coaching Stock workings continued on an occasional basis between Douglas and St John's until 1975. The permanent way on the Peel and Ramsey routes as well as the Foxdale line was lifted in 1975. The Isle of Man Railway Co Ltd operated services between Douglas and Port Erin 1972, 73 and 74. Then in 1975, Port Erin line operated only from its southwestern terminus to Castletown, extending to Ballasalla in 1976, and returning to Douglas in 1977, the last year in which the railway was operated by the Isle of Man Railway Co. Ltd. After Nationalisation, the railway company wound up its affairs and was dissolved in 1981 after 110 years of existence.
The railway is now marketed under the title of ‘Isle of Man Steam Railway,’ which is owned and operated by Isle of Man Transport as part of the Department of Tourism and Leisure of the Isle of Man Government. It had previously been marketed as simply ‘Isle of Man Railway’ until closure in 1965. From 1969 to 1972, it operated as the grand ‘Isle of Mann Victorian Steam Railway Company Limited’ before reverting to the more workaday Isle of Man Railway. When nationalised in 1978 it fell under the banner of ‘Isle of Man Railways’ along with the Manx Electric Railway. Certain items of stock were changed to read ‘Isle of Man Passenger Transport’ in the mid 1980s, but this was reverted to ‘Isle of Man Railways’ again in the 1990s. A change in management style in 1999 ensued, and the islands trains, trams and buses were presented under the banner title of ‘Isle of Man Transport’. The electric railway was greater affected by this change, with a series of non-historical and somewhat overly-modern liveries etc., but in 2007 this was changed and the railway is marketed once more as the ‘Isle of Man Steam Railway’ although in keeping with the historical aspect, the coaches and locomotives carry original names and transfers. The banner heading of all the island's government-owned railways was once again changed in 2009 and they are now collectively known as ‘Isle Of Man Heritage Railways’.
The Groudle Glen Railway is a narrow gauge railway north of Douglas in the Isle of Man which is owned and operated by members of the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters' Association and operates on summer Sundays; May to September and Wednesday evenings in July and August along with a number of annual special events.
It was built in the late Victorian era in response to increasing demand for transportation down Groudle Glen brought on by the introduction of the Manx Electric Railway. The headland was developed, with a zoo being created and the railway being built. The 2 ft (60 cm) gauge line ran from the upper part of the glen, Lhen Coan, to the Zoo at Sea Lion Rocks. The line opened on May 23, 1896 and started with one engine, called Sea Lion, and three coaches. The engine was built by W.G. Bagnall Ltd. of Castle Engine Works, Stafford. The line became so popular that a further engine, Polar Bear, and additional coach stock was purchased.
The railway operated very successfully until the outbreak of the First World War when all services ceased and the associated zoo was closed. When the line re-opened the locomotives were overhauled and returned to service but by 1921 they had been replaced with battery-operated engines. These proved troublesome and after proving inefficient and costly, they were dropped, the original steam locomotives being overhauled and returned to service. The railway once again closed during the Second World War and the zoo closed for good, it being reported that the animals had been released! A landslide during the war years ensured that services could not return to the original terminus.
Despite being under one mile long, the railway does have intermediate stations, although only one of them is still operational, the other forms the site of the current passing loop when two trains are in operation; the outer terminus is home to the visitor centre whilst the inner station houses all the running sheds and the railway's workshops.
As part of a new drive to attract more local visitors to the line and to recruit new volunteers to run the line, a wide programme of special events were introduced for the 2010 season. Alongside the annual Easter Bunny Trains and Santa Specials, the Jester Express Fun Day returned in July, alongside the new Diesel & Electric Day in May, the Father's Day Trains in June and the Teddy Bear's Picnic in August. Another new initiative for 2010 was the introduction of Driver Experience sessions, bookable by the railway's website, a 2 hour session on the footplate of locomotive Annie is offered as a hands on experience. It is planned that this driver experience will be further developed in 2011 with the session becoming a 3 hour experience including the participant taking part in raising steam and preparing the locomotive, along with refreshments and an accompanying guest included in the price.
The original steam locomotive remains in regular traffic and is supplemented by a further replica locomotive, two diesel locomotives and a replica battery electric vehicle. In addition to this a further diesel locomotive owned by one of the volunteers is in store on the line with a view to possible restoration and entry into traffic. In the past there have been further locomotives, most notably a sister to Sea Lion, two original battery electric locomotives and several visiting engines.
Since restoration a number of visiting locomotives have operated on the line; following Kerr Stewart Peter Pan in 1991, there were Rishra and Chaloner from the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway in 1995 as part of the International Railway Festival in conjunction with the centenary of the Snaefell Mountain Railway, followed by Quarry Hunslet locomotive Alice in 1998. Subsequent returns by Chaloner have also been made, and the line's other original locomotive, Polar Bear, has returned in 1993 as part of the Year of Railways, in 1996 for the railway's centenary and again in 2005 for her own 100th birthday. Since being sold, Jack has also made one return visit in 1999, and future visits for other locomotives are being planned.
The Great Laxey Mine Railway was originally constructed to serve the Isle of Man's Great Laxey Mine, a lead mine located in Laxey. The 1 ft 7 in (483 mm) gauge railway runs from the old mine entrance to the washing floors along a right of way that passes through the Isle of Man's only railway tunnel under the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge Victorian Manx Electric Railway and the main A2 Douglas to Ramsey coast road.
Bee with a train in 2005Abandoned in 1929 when the mine closed, the 1/4 mile Great Laxey Mine Railway re-opened in September 2004. Now the Ant and Bee, replicas of the Lewin steam locomotives with the same names originally built in 1877, carry passengers along a restored route once traversed by cars loaded with lead ore pulled by mules. At the upper terminus, linking the railway to the Laxey Wheel, once operated the Laxey Browside Tramway but this has long since vanished, replaced with a car park.
The Orchid Line is a multi-gauge miniature railway operating within the Wild Life Park in the Ballaugh Curraghs in the north of the Isle of Man and is operated by the Manx Model Engineering Society. It was established in 1992 and has expanded considerably since this time to cover a large part of the park's perimeter.
The Manx Electric Railway (MER) is an electric inter-urban tramway connecting Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey in the Isle of Man. It connects with the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway at its southern terminus at Derby Castle at the northern end of the promenade in Douglas, and with the Snaefell Mountain Railway at Laxey. The railway's route is undulating and passes through areas of scenic beauty. For that reason, among others, many holiday visitors to the Isle of Man take an excursion on one of the trams.
The Snaefell Mountain Railway is an electric mountain railway on the Isle of Man in Europe. It joins the town of Laxey with the summit of Snaefell, at 2,036 feet (620.6 m) above sea level the highest point on the island. It connects with the Manx Electric Railway (MER) in Laxey. The line is five miles (8 km) long, built to 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge and uses a Fell Incline Railway System centre rail for braking on the steep gradients. It is electrified using overhead wires at 550 volts direct current, with bow collectors.
Services operate at regular intervals between April and September, taking 30 minutes for a one-way journey. There is no winter service: the overhead wires on the exposed upper part of the route are dismantled to avoid damage from icing. All passenger traffic is carried in six wooden-bodied electric railcars, built in 1895 and numbered 1 to 6. Car 5 was burned out in an accident in 1970 and its body is a replacement built in 1971 to a similar design. The cars were re-equipped in the late 1970s with new bogies to a design based on the original, using motors and traction equipment from withdrawn Aachen trams. Because of the different gauge and the centre rail, vehicles cannot inter-run between the railway and the 3 ft gauge MER. Railway vehicles are occasionally worked to the MER workshops at Douglas by swapping their bogies, and to aid this there is a dual gauge siding in Laxey. The railway is owned and operated by Isle of Man Heritage Railways, a department of the Isle of Man Government.
The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway is a horse-drawn tramway in Douglas on the Isle of Man. The route runs along the seafront promenade for approximately 1.6 miles (~2.8 km), from a southern terminus at the Victoria Pier, by the Sea Terminal to a northern terminus at Derby Castle, the southern terminus of the Manx Electric Railway, where the workshops and sheds are also located.
The tramway was built and initially operated by Thomas Lightfoot, a retired civil engineer from the English city of Sheffield. His service was introduced in 1876 and the line has run every year since, except for a period during the Second World War.
In 1882, Lightfoot sold the line to Isle of Man Tramways Ltd, which came later to be known as Isle of Man Tramways & Electric Power Co. Ltd. (IoMT&EP) and also owned the Manx Electric Railway. The IoMT&EP went into liquidation in 1900 as a consequence of a banking collapse. The horse tramway was sold by the liquidator to Douglas Corporation, which took over the services in 1902.
Since 1927 the service has run in summer only and it remains in place as one of the most distinctive features of the island's tourist market. The tramway is now owned and operated by the Douglas Borough Council, as successor to Douglas Corporation.
Other transport services now long since closed around the island's capital include the Falcon Cliff Lift, Cunningham's Camp Escalator, Douglas Head Funicular Railway and the Upper Douglas Cable Tramway.
Bus Vannin is the title of the government owned and operated bus service on the Isle of Man. The name was adopted in June 2009 having previously been branded as Isle of Man Transport.
The first omnibus services on the island were provided by the Manxland Bus Co., Ltd., in addition to several smaller operators which operated independently. Primary means of long-distance travel was by way of either the Isle of Man Railway to the west, south and north (via the westerly side of the island) or Manx Electric Railway on the east coast. When bus competition became a threat to the Isle of Man Railway it bought out the bus company and operated it as ‘Isle of Man Road Services’ in conjunction with the railway. In addition to the island-wide services Douglas Corporation also operated a fleet of buses around the capital, distinctive by their yellow livery. As the railway company began to falter, it relied more heavily on the bus operation.
When the service was initially nationalised in the 1970s the buses carried ‘National Transport’ logos and a new livery, predominantly of red with white trim, having previously carried a variation of this colour scheme under the Road Services banner. The nationalised service was characterised by its use of many second hand vehicles from England, a practice which continued until relatively recently, from a variety of sources including Liverpool Corporation as well as the nearby Birkenhead Corporation. By 1987 when a new management scheme was under way, a new livery of cream and red was introduced, and ‘Isle Of Man Transport’ adopted as the title. Buses carried a variety of advertisements along their side panels, with several distinctive buses carrying all-over advertising at this time. Further change of leadership in 1999 saw the introduction of brand-new buses and gradual phasing out of older stock, latterly used only on school services.
The nationalised bus service on the island came into being in 1976 as National Transport taking over from both the Road Services (a subsidiary of the Isle of Man Railway Company) and Douglas Corporation Transport, operated by the municipal authority. The vehicles were liveried in an all-over red colour scheme, later changed to include white banding. By 1987 the white became cream, and the full Isle of Man Transport title was added to all vehicles. During the period up to 1997 advertising panels were carried on the sides of some vehicles, and, in certain cases, all-over advertising was used. In April 2009, new buses were added to the fleet, which were maroon and cream; these vehicles were also branded as ‘Bus Vannin’ but this change has not been implemented throughout the fleet to date, although some buses curiously retain their old livery yet are re-branded by the addition of a transfer to the side panels. In 2009 advertising panels returned to most of the vehicles.