|Photo Gallery (7 images)|
Laxey Tracker 22/10/2012
The 'Laxey Tracker' was a unique and unrepeatable railtour of the MER in Laxey. A 3' 0" gauge Wickham railcar, normally based on the steam railway, had been brought in by road from Douglas. The tour was run twice to accommodate nine participants, one of whom did both trips. Various points and track which hadn't been used for very many years were dug out, unbolted and dismantled specially then returned to how they were immediately afterwards. Five workers in orange jackets were required, including our driver.
This was a thoroughly comprehensive railtour of the Laxey Station area, including all three crossovers and station sidings. The highlight was the 3' 0"/3' 6" dual gauge line shared with the bottom end of The Snaefell Mountain Railway. When this track (which had not seen the light of day for many years) had been dug out to the very end, everyone, including the workmen, was surprised to discover that one rail was actually longer than the other two! North of Laxey after traversing the two skew level crossings we ran to the end of Dumbell's Row Siding (Ham & Egg Terrace) at 7m 11ch, our railcar surprising some of the locals.
Back at the station we were able to ride along the Laxey Mines Tavern Siding as far as some preserved wagons, but the point into the former goods shed would not budge. South of the station at the remarkably modern Laxey Tram Car Depot the headshunt was covered as far as a parked trailer, all three shed roads to the doors and a further crossover. On the way back we stopped at the electric substation to see the large archaic 7 phase Mercury Vapour rectifiers that convert high voltage AC to 550 volts DC for the trams (see http://youtu.be/X4Es2Umuv1I). Sadly this antediluvian equipment is soon to be replaced with modern transformers. The layout at Laxey is also scheduled to change radically (hence the reason for our visit) to make more space for passengers to change between the MER and the Snaefell Mountain Railway, and this is expected to result in the loss of the famous dual gauge sliding.
Many thanks to the IOM Director of Public Transport and his staff for making this tour possible.