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Snaefell Mountain Railway renewal is ahead of schedule 23 December 2011

A major project to replace over 50% of the Snaefell Mountain Railway’s tracks is progressing well.

The Department of Community, Culture and Leisure is investing a total of £3million in infrastructure renewal on the five-mile long mountain railway, the first phase of which was completed last winter. The works involve replacing track and sleepers, improvements to the existing trackside drainage system and improvements to the ground under the rails where required.

Hon Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure, said:

‘Significant investment in our heritage railways is required to preserve them for future generations to enjoy. This major scheme is essential to ensure the safety of our passengers and to bring the condition of the line up to scratch.

‘There has been a pleasing increase in passengers carried on the mountain this summer, and my Department is focusing on growing the number of passenger journeys across all the heritage railways in the coming years.

‘The renewal work is being undertaken by a local contractor and I’m pleased to report the project is progressing ahead of schedule despite the stormy conditions.’

The total number of passengers carried on the Snaefell Mountain Railway was around 49,000 this summer, up 11% on the approximately 44,000 recorded in 2010 and a massive increase of almost 29% on two years ago when 38,000 travelled on the line.

Colas (IoM) Limited is the main contractor, employing an average of 19 labourers each week. Around £450,000 has been spent on sleepers, track and fastenings. Phase two of the renewal is scheduled to finish in time for the line opening for the season just before Easter.

Minister Crookall added:

‘I commend the workers who have continued with the project in recent weeks despite temperatures dipping down to minus 14 degrees Celsius at times. Last year weather prevented work on the high part of the mountain for a total of four weeks so progress is made on the mountain when possible. The only day lost so far this year was last Tuesday (13 December) when the workforce was moved to a lower level when the supervisor deemed it unsafe to continue in the high winds.’

A total of 23% of the line was replaced last winter and up to 30% will receive attention this winter, amounting to more than five miles or over 50% of the line.

The Snaefell Mountain Railway will re-open on 4 April and operate until 1 November in 2012. The Isle of Man Steam Railway will operate from 24 February to 5 November and the Manx Electric Railway will run 17 March to 4 November.

The popular Sunset Dinners at Snaefell Summit Restaurant and the Pie in the Sky evenings will return next season. Tickets for 2012 will be on sale in March.

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