The Groudle Glen Railway is a narrow gauge railway north of Douglas in the Isle of Man which is owned and operated by a small group of enthusiastic volunteers and operates on summer Sundays; May to September and Wednesday evenings in July and August along with a number of annual special events.
The addition of a replica battery electric locomotive in 2003 completed the line's historical line-up of locomotives and a return visit from Polar Bear for her own centenary in 2005 was repaid by Sea Lion making her first trip to Amberley Museum in the same year. Back on the railway, in 2007 a new purpose-built locomotive shed was erected on the site of the original, but to a larger scale, and a mess hut was installed making the station at Lhen Coan a transformed area, in keeping with the original site. In September 2007 the railway marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of restoration by unveiling a plaque at Lhen Coan station. This event also marked the official opening by Annie Craine MHK of the railway's new purpose built locomotive shed. Plans were well in hand to rebuild the souvenir shop at Lhen Coan in a style similar to the distinctive station canopy and the close of the 2008 season saw the previous incarnation dismantled in readiness for the erection of the new, pre-fabricated version on the same site. A mock signal box was also completed to cover the side of the volunteers' mess room in this year also, and by December work was in hand to close the shop for good after the Santa Trains. The new shop opened fully for Easter 2010 and now dominates the station site. In 2010 an appeal was launched to raise the £60,000 required to extend the Sea Lion Rocks Tea Rooms to provide toilet facilities, a power supply and improved patio area, this was completed in time for the Easter 2012 services, and was re-opened by Allan Bell MHK , the Island's Chief Minister, in May 2012 to mark the 30th Anniversary of the railway's restoration.
When it originally opened in 1896 the line ran a very intense all-day every-day service in season. A fourth coach was ordered within the first year to cope with demand, followed by a further locomotive and four coaches eight years later. Today is a different story, the railway operates to a set timetable annually with trains running every Sunday between May and September, with the first train at 11:00 am and final departure at 4:30 pm; in addition to this evening services operate between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm on Wednesdays in July and August, and Tuesdays in August only. One of the resident steam locomotives is in service wherever possible for each of the advertised operating days. When the line first re-opened services were also provided on bank holidays and public holidays but this practice has been discontinued in more recent years. As part of the involvement with the Year Of Railways in 1993 and subsequent anniversaries, the line has operated daily for periods of up to one week, the last being as part of Steam 125 in 1998 when visiting locomotives were in attendance. The railway's current standard timetable can be found at its website including details of special services.
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 2012. A new special event for 2011 was the summer Cliff Top Concerts, supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council. A day of free open air concerts from Manx groups and musicians were performed at Sea Lion Rocks, this event was deemed a great success and is to be repeated in 2012.