Original formations on the Manx Electric Railway consisted of Nos. 1, 2 or 3 working with one of the original Trailers, No.11-16 (later becoming 49-54). In 1894 with the extension to Laxey, Cars 4-9 were most commonly ran with the new Trailers, Nos.17-22 (Two now surviving as Nos. 36/37).
The deliveries in 1895 (Cars 10-13) saw limited use until total withdrawl in 1902, photographic record usually pictures these with either a 17-22 series Trailer or running single-motor.) The 1898 deliveries saw Cars 14-18 paired with either the new 40-43 series of Trailers (later to be motorised as 24-27), and post-1899 the 44-48 series. The 1899-built ‘Winter Saloons’ were also most commonly used with the 44-48 series.
For a period during the Winters of the early 1900s, the M.E.R were forced to operate some of the 4-9 series as Trailers, hauled by ‘Winter Saloons’ (with disconnected air brakes) This was countered by the ordering and delivery of the ‘Winter Trailers’, Nos. 57 and No.58 in 1904, which were used thereafter with the ‘Winter Saloons’.
From the 1930s, Cars 25-27 were usually paired with Trailers 55 and 56, No.25 most commonly with No.55, and No.26 most commonly with No.56. This was also mirrored with the 1906-built quartet, with Car No.32 usually kept running with Trailer No.62, and Car No.33 with Trailer No.61. During 1994/95 Trailer No.56 was rebuilt as an Enclosed Trailer, with provisions for Wheelchair Access, and No.55 was stored in 1997, ending both in-service partnerships.
From the 1900s until complete withdrawl in 2002, the ‘Ratchet’ Cars, Nos.14, 15, 17, 18, 28, 29, 30 and 31 could also be seen on short workings and specials in addition to the timetabled service. These were usually paired with the lightweight Trailers 36-37, 49-54 and 60. The decline of their usage was the main reason for withdrawl, with Car No.28 being the first in 1970, with the last being Car No.31 during 2002, following Isle of Man Transport’s decision to discontinue non-emergency ‘Ratchet’ workings.
Unfortunately, many of the M.E.R fleet were discovered to have cracked axles at the beginning of the 2008 season, resulting in the withdrawl of Car No.26, and Trailers 37, 42, 49, 60, 61 and 62. 1893-built Cars 1 and 2, and Trailer 51 were withdrawn during the 2010/11 season with similar problems, the intention is to bring the fleet back into traffic when time and cost allows. Car No.1 returned to traffic in 2012, and returning in 2013 to traffic were Car No.2, Trailer No.51 and Trailer No.60 (all following truck overhaul). Trailers No.61 and No.62 are set to return for the 2017 season.
Usual formations nowadays on the Manx Electric Railway consist of a Motor and a Trailer, with single-Motor operations occurring during the periods of low-season running. Motor/Trailer/Trailer combinations happen sometimes for special events and private hires, usually never on normal service.
M.E.R services as current are usually performed by the 1899-built ‘Winter Saloons’, Nos.19, 20, 21, and 22. The ‘Winter Saloons’ are usually augmented by the 1894-built ‘Tunnel Cars’, Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 9. After this, ‘Crossbenches’ Nos. 32 and No.33, and 1893-built Cars No.1 and No.2 usually make appearances during the Summer months alongside ‘Paddlebox’ No.16. They are then paired with a 40-series Trailer, (as current from a fleet of Nos. 40, 41, 43, 44, 46, 47 or 48). During inclement weather, and for private hires or special events, Enclosed Trailers Nos 57 and 58, and the lightweight duo of Trailer No.51 and Trailer No.60 will usually appear on service. For access for disabled persons and wheelchairs, Trailer No.56 is used when required.