THE title “Island Railways” may mean a number of things. British main lines are island railways; so are those of New Zealand, Java, Japan, and Ireland. But those systems are all relatively large, and worked with rolling-
It must not be assumed, however, because a railway is small, and serves a small island, that it will be antiquated and decrepit. A little railway may be completely suited to the limited, sea-
The Isle of Man is served by a comprehensive and interesting railway system, worked by two companies, the Isle of Man Railway and the Manx Electric Railway. The Isle of Man Railway is the older and the more extensive. The company was formed in 1872, and the first section, eleven and a half miles long, from Douglas via St. John’s to Peel, was opened for traffic on July 2 of the following year. The 3 ft gauge was adopted because of the mountainous character of the island, and all railway construction involved sharp curves.
August 1874 saw the opening of the line from Douglas to Castletown and Port Erin, serving the southern portion of the island. The original scheme of the Isle of Man Railway included an extension from St. John’s north-
The people of Ramsey then formed the Manx Northern Railway. A line was built from Ramsey to St. John’s, on the Isle of Man Railway, and through but circuitous railway communication was established between Ramsey and Douglas.
A short branch -
AT THE SUMMIT TERMINUS of the Snaefell Mountain Railway in the Isle of Man. A part of the “Fell” apparatus employed to overcome the severe gradients can be seen attached to the front of the bogie. The mountain line comprises nearly five miles of 3 ft 6-
The three original locomotives of the Isle of Man Railway were of the 2-
The Isle of Man Railway to-
The Isle of Man Railway has always been a thoroughly successful concern. There are two reasons for this. In the past, it has not suffered from competition on the part of other railways. To-
The carriages, as might be expected on the 3 ft gauge, are not roomy, but they have many good points. They are of the ordinary compartment type, built low on the ground, rendering high platforms unnecessary. They are all electrically lighted, and with the exception of some coaches from the Manx Northern Railway, are mounted on bogies. But they are not steam-
The whole system has a neat and well-
ON THE ISLE OF MAN RAILWAY. A passenger train about to leave Port Erin Station. The line from Douglas to Castletown and Port Erin, which serves the southern portion of the island, was opened in August, 1874.
All the Manx locomotives, except “Caledonia”, were built by Beyer, Peacock & Company Ltd, at Manchester. “Caledonia” was built in Glasgow by Dubs & Company (now incorporated with the North British Locomotive Company) in 1885. All engines carry their numbers on the chimneys, and their names on brass plates fixed to the tank sides.
The speeds are not high, for high speed must not be expected on a narrow-
There is also, however, a limited stop train in service. This is a train which runs from Douglas to Ramsey in one hour.
The Manx Electric Railway from Douglas to Ramsey is built to the 3-
The Manx Electric rolling-
A STANDARD 2-
Another Manx electric line is the Douglas Southern Electric Railway, which runs south-
A line rather similar to the Manx Electric Railway runs between Rothesay and Ettrick Bay, on the Isle of Bute. This is Scotland’s only island railway, though, after the war of 1914-
The railway system of the Isle of Wight is now a part of the Southern Railway, being operated with its standard branch line locomotives and rolling-
The largest was the Isle of Wight Central Railway which had its headquarters at Newport and worked from that town to Ryde, Cowes, and Ventnor. It had a miscellaneous collection of second-
Finally, there was the Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport Railway. This was at first worked by the Isle of Wight Central, but after a time independent working was decided upon. Some non-
In the Channel Islands there has not been such a happy state of affairs as in the Isle of Man. Jersey and Guernsey are, perhaps, too small for the rail to provide a satisfactory means of transport. The Guernsey Railway, which was simply an electric tramway, closed down in 1934, and the Jersey Eastern Railway even earlier, in 1929. The latter was a standard gauge steam line, with four 0-
IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS there is a small 3 ft 6 in gauge line in Jersey which runs between St. Helier and Corbière, a distance of eight miles. This line is operated by the Jersey Railways and Tramways, a company which was a pioneer in the use of the geared steam rail-
On the other hand, the Jersey Railways and Tramways, on 3 ft 6 in gauge, are still flourishing, and run the island’s road motor services in addition to their eight miles of line between St. Helier and Corbière. This company was a pioneer in the use of the modern geared steam rail-
In the Mediterranean, the little Malta Railway has had the same sad end as the Jersey Eastern, for it was closed down to all traffic on April 1, 1931. A feature of the Malta Railway was the beautiful way in which gardens were bedded out on the platforms. The line pierced the fine old wall of Valletta.
The remaining British island railway in the Mediterranean, the Cyprus Government Railway, has seventy-
But the most striking island railway-
Travel in Corsica
The main line from Ajaccio -
The “express” is the early afternoon train from Bastia, which takes five and a half hours for the run of just under a hundred miles, stopping at all stations except Borgo, ten and a half miles from Bastia, and Carbuccia, the last station before Ajaccio. But nobody will grudge an afternoon spent on such a magnificent journey. The up “express” from Ajaccio, also an early afternoon train, reaches Bastia at 6.30 pm. These trains are hauled by “Mallet” tank engines of the 0-
Some time ago, a vagabond Russian wanted to cross the island quickly. He had no money, but he had resource. He quietly stepped on a little locomotive which was standing in steam in a siding, opened the regulator, and went gaily along the Bastia-
The Corsican trains are remarkably good from the passengers’ point of view, considering the remote region which they serve. On the best trains there are some excellent first and second class corridor carriages, which include little “drawing-
It might be expected that the railways of Sardinia would resemble those of Corsica, but this is far from being so. Sardinian railways are simply the Cagliari Division of the Italian State Railways -
In the Balearic Islands, both Majorca and Minorca have their little railway systems. That of the former has its main line running from Palma to Manacor and Arta, the distances being forty and fifty-
In the West Indies are many interesting island railway systems, all differing from one another, though several are British-
Big Locomotives in Jamaica
A branch line also bears round from Spanish Town to the north coast, skirting the Blue Mountains and ending at Port Antonio. Jamaican locomotives might be expected to be on the small side, but this is not so. Typical Jamaican engines of the 4-
The scenery of Jamaica, with its orange groves, tropical woods, and lovely mountains, is beautiful, but the climate can be anything but kind. Hurricanes and deluges are too familiar to be pleasant, and a bad wash-
The island of Trinidad contains a compact little railway system, resembling a miniature edition of the Jamaican lines. Sugar cane and asphalt are the railway’s principal sources of business, the asphalt coming from a remarkable pitch lake in the island. The gauge is of the standard width, but the locomotives and rolling-
Very different from the two foregoing is the Bermuda Railway, which is one of the world’s youngest lines, for it has been open only a few years. Bermuda, lying in the Atlantic, is a place without motor-
Cuba is a much bigger place than the three islands just mentioned, and here is a considerable railway mileage. There are no fewer than fifteen different railway companies, with over 4,000 miles of route. The principal system is that of the United Railways of the Havana, with a route mileage of 1,367. There are 363 engines, 101 rail-
A third example is the Havana Electric Railway, also on the standard gauge, and with a length of 117 miles. As its name implies, it is worked entirely by electricity, with overhead conductors, the rolling-
There are many other interesting lines on the West Indian Islands, but those of Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Bermuda must be taken as being sufficiently representative. In their courses through the tropical forests, the railways of the West Indies and of Central America encounter some queer things. In at least one locality the iguanas -
From the West Indies, we will turn to the Indian Ocean, where conditions are rather different. Madagascar, with an area of 228,000 square miles, is a very big island, but it has, relatively, a small railway mileage, the interior being covered by primeval forest and mountain country. The Madagascar State Railways are administered by the French Colonial Government at Tananarive (or Antananarivo), the capital, and have a total route mileage of 429, worked by eighty-
Going farther east we find things rather different in Mauritius. Here is a little island with an area of 720 square miles, and served by an efficient railway system, with 111 miles of line built to the standard gauge, together with fourteen miles of 2 ft 6 in gauge line. For all its small size and remarkable beauty, Mauritius is a highly industrial island, with great exports of sugar and its by-
Still farther east, in the East Indies, is the railway system of the Philippine Islands. The principal island, Luzon, is served by the Manila Railroad, opened in 1890. This was originally owned by a British company, but it became American after the USA had acquired the Philippine Islands in 1898, in consequence of the war with Spain. The gauge is 3 ft 6 in, and the mileage 726. There are about 160 locomotives and 2,500 coaching vehicles, as well as numerous rail-
Borneo and Sumatra are a long way behind Java in the matter of railway development. The Sumatran railways, however, are not dissimilar to the Javanese in general aspect and equipment, though not in extent. The two principal administrations are the Sumatra State Railways -
If, on the West Indian railways, the traveller may occasionally meet with mild entertainment on the part of iguanas, in the East Indies the wild beasts of the forest are of a rather more formidable nature. Tigers are more plentiful than pleasant, and fear the railway rather less than they fear the crocodiles. Elephants, too, while they are wise and tactful animals, as a rule, will sometimes take it into their heads to browse on the trees overhanging the track, and once or twice an old rogue elephant has been known to charge and overturn a locomotive, with fatal results to himself.
IN SUMATRA. A 2-
Finally, in British North Borneo, there is the only railway in the island, the 125-
The line, which is built to the metre gauge, is laid through picturesque but difficult country and crosses long stretches of jungle, hill ranges and the many streams which thread the country. The first section of the railway, the twenty miles from Beaufort to Weston, was completed in 1900, and two years later the line had been extended another fifty-
The line was reconstructed in 1912, wooden bridges were replaced by steel structures, curves were straightened as far as possible, and the track was relaid with a heavier rail than that of the original railway. Locomotive workshops were built at Tanjong Aru. There are thirteen locomotives in use, including 4-
One other island railway deserves mention. It is only about half a mile in length, and is not even working now. But it is in Spitsbergen, and it connects the closed-
[From part 37, published 11 October 1935]
“The Railways of Fiji” on this website.