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 620 metres (2,034 ft) above sea level the highest point on the island. It connects with the Manx Electric Railway (MER) in Laxey. The line is 5 miles (8.0 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in the late 1970s with new bogies to a design based on the original, using motors and traction equipment from withdrawn Aachen trams.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 main station on the line is the interchange with the coastal line at Laxey and this is where all departures and arrivals occur; the only intermediate stopping place on the line is at the mid-way position where the line intersects the Snaefell Mountain Course used by the World famous T.T. races and during race periods trams terminate either side of the road and passengers connect by means of a footbridge.
- Laxey Station
- Bungalow Station
- Snaefell Summit Station
There is a spur off the main line above the lower station which leads to the depôt where all the rolling stock is housed and maintained; this complex was completely rebuilt in the winter of 1994/1995 and officially opened it readiness for the railway's centenary. Also in the depôt is a smaller shed which houses the Air Ministry railcars used to access masts at the summit during the winter months when the overhead lines are removed from the top section of the line to prevent frost damage.In November 2010 works commenced on a project to renew several sections of track on the Snaefell Mountain Railway. Works are scheduled for completion prior to the line reopening for the 2011 season.