Heritage rail bosses insist there was no risk to passengers or staff after a brake failed on a Snaefell mountain tram.

Snaefell Mountain Railway tramcar No.5 was carrying 36 passengers when it lost power to its brakes as it left the summit on May 12.

One passenger, who was visiting from Scotland, described the tram’s speed increasing and seeing the driver vigorously turning the fell brake wheel before the vehicle came to a halt on a tight bend a few minutes later.

He said: ‘We filled the return tram around 1.15pm and waited until the driver came out of the cab and said out loud “we have no power”.

‘Nevertheless, a few minutes later, after a chat with another employee at the summit, he returned to the cab and released the brake.

‘Power surged on and we began the one in 10 descent but almost immediately the power went off as a transistor burnt out.

‘Speed increased.

‘We at the front saw the driver turning the brake wheel with ferocity and after a few minutes stopped on a tight bend.’

A rescue tram was sent up the line to ferry the stranded passengers back to Laxey.

The incident has echoes of a far more serious one which took place in August 2017, when a tram ran out of control down the mountain after its brakes failed shortly after leaving the summit station.

On that occasion, passengers were told to brace as the tramcar careered 1,400m down the line, reaching a speed of 44mph as it crossed the Mountain Road at the Bungalow.

The crew, having wrestled in vain with the fell brake, fully expected a derailment as they applied the parking brake which in the event finally brought the vehicle to a halt.

Since then, Snaefell Mountain Railway trams have all been fitted with extra fail-to-safe brakes in addition to their other braking systems.

In a statement, the Department of Infrastructure said: ‘The safety and comfort of passengers is the most important consideration across the Isle of Man heritage railway network.

‘This approach was clearly demonstrated on May 12, as procedures were correctly followed and there was no risk to passengers or staff at any time.

‘One of the Snaefell trams suffered a failure of a brake resistor in service.

‘While these units are extremely robust, they undergo regular heating and cooling which can lead to occasional mechanical failures.

‘The electrical brake is one of five braking systems on the tram, and each is designed to operate independently.

‘The electromagnetic brakes, wheel brakes and both fell brakes were all fully operational and the specified tests had been undertaken and passed that day.

‘Our staff slowed the tram after becoming aware of the nature of the failure and then brought it to a halt.

‘The passengers were then transferred to a different tram for their safety and comfort, and continued their journey after a short delay.

‘The tram was then brought safely back to the depot where repairs were undertaken.’