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Steam Trains Go All the Way 29 April 2004

Steam trains are scheduled to run to Port Erin from Bank Holiday Monday (May 3) following extensive track renovations.

The 15-mile Isle of Man Railway has been disrupted for two years by work to lay an underground sewage pump main from Port Erin to Meary Veg, Santon, as part of the £120 million IRIS scheme. But on Monday the first steam train will depart Port Erin Station at 10.10am. Tourism Minister David Cretney, accompanied by steam train enthusiast and Chaplain of the House of Keys, Canon Dennis Baggaley, will be on board.

Mr Cretney said:

"There has been a complete renewal of the track between Meary Veg and Port Erin which amounts to more than two thirds of the line. We have also taken the opportunity to install six new automated level crossings. The new level crossings between Castletown and Port Erin have automatic barriers, 'wig-wag' warning lights and audible tones for the visually impaired.

"It's worth about £5 million to my department in terms of the cost of track renewal, although it has been done in conjunction with the Department of Transport as part of the IRIS scheme. Much of the line between Douglas and Meary Veg has previously been re-laid as part of our routine maintenance programme and we are hoping that the final kilometre (5/8 of a mile) can be re-laid this winter."

There will be an official opening of the line in about one month's time but Monday's re-opening will be marked by Mr Cretney catching the train back to Douglas. Canon Baggaley, who lives near the railway at Colby Level, will travel with the Minister.

Canon Baggaley said:

"I was brought up in Derbyshire near a rail junction, and I was very sorry when steam gave way to diesel. When we first came to live here in 1968 I was sad to see the end of the Peel and Ramsey line, and fearful for the future of the railway. However, the survival and revival of the railway following its takeover by the Manx Government has given me great pleasure. I am full of admiration for all those involved in the track re-laying which has involved a lot of hard physical work.

"I have ridden the railways frequently in my retirement and I look forward to using the railway a great deal in the future."

From Monday, the steam railway will operate five scheduled trains in each direction departing Douglas and Port Erin at 1010, 1150, 1350, 1520 and 1640 hours daily until October 31. The journey time is 57 minutes and costs £4.20 for single and £7 for return journeys. Alternatively, passengers can buy Island Explorer tickets, which permit unlimited travel on all trains and buses which start at £10 for a one day ticket.

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