The Manx Electric Railway opened in increments from Derby Castle to Ramsey from 1893-1899, with the following periods of operation on each stretch:
1893 – Derby Castle to Groudle – 07/09/1893 to 28/09/1893 (Single track) , 12/05/1894 – 27/07/1894 (Double track)
1894 – Derby Castle to Laxey (South of Lower Rencell, Opposite site of Laxey Car Shed) – 28/07/1894 – xx/0x/1896
1896 – Derby Castle to Laxey (North of Lower Rencell, Opposite site of Cattle Dock) – xx/0x/1896 – xx/06/1898
1898 – Derby Castle to Laxey (as Current) xx/06/1898 – 01/08/1898
1898 – Derby Castle to Ballure – 02/08/1898 to 24/10/1898, 17/06/1899 to 23/07/1899
1899 – Derby Castle to Ramsey – 24/07/1899 onwards
Once the M.E.R had opened fully to Ramsey, the bulk of services ran between there and Derby Castle. However, numerous specials were operated, usually by the ‘Ratchet Cars’ between Derby Castle and Laxey, to destinations including:
- Onchan Head (Pole 33), for the White City pleasure grounds, which ran from the opening of the line until closure in the early 1980s. Short workings operated from Derby Castle, usually by a single-motor.
- Howstrake (Pole 87), for the Howstrake Holiday Camp. Special traffic was limited here, due to the station facing a blind curve and the Lag Birragh crossover being several poles away.
- Groudle Glen (Pole 117), for the Glen itself and the Groudle Glen Railway, which closed in 1963 (now since re-opened)
- Garwick Glen (Pole 244), for the Glen and Pleasure Grounds, which closed to the public after private purchase in Autumn 1965.
The ‘Bulgham Buldge’ saw the section north of Bulgham severed from the rest of the railway from the 20th of January 1967 onwards. Repairs were effected to the retaining wall during the Spring and Summer, the railway reopening through northbound on the 10th of July.
After the abandonment of the winter service on 30/09/1975, the Laxey to Ramsey section of the line was closed after years of pressure by Tynwald. Services in 1976, operated seasonally between Derby Castle and Laxey. Support for the M.E.R saw the Laxey to Ramsey section re-open on 25/06/1977.
From 1993 onwards, the Wednesday and Friday evening Derby Castle to Groudle evening shuttle was introduced: This is usually worked by ‘Illuminated’ Car No.9 operating 3 to 4 round trips single-motor, it working around the evening timetable of the Groudle Glen Railway.
The Laxey to Ramsey section was again closed officially on 20/02/2008, due to concerns about the condition of the track, and resulting health and safety implications. Services commenced for the year on the 17/03/2008, running between Derby Castle and Laxey, the Ramsey section reopening (albeit as a single line, with a passing loop at Ballaskeig) on the 19/07/2008, running until 14/09/2008.
The M.E.R today operates from March to November. Current high season timetables usually entail the operation of 4-5 sets working Derby Castle to Ramsey services, with one set turning back or recessing at Laxey during the day. The busiest days on the M.E.R now are during the Isle of Man T.T Period (usually the last weekend in May to the first weekend in June) particularly during Ramsey Sprint Day, where all available sets are in use on the timetabled service or specials.