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Transport in the Isle of Man

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Title: Transport in the Isle of Man  
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Transport in the Isle of Man

There are a number of transport services around the Isle of Man, Mostly consisting of paved roads, public transport, rail services, ports and an airport.


Overview map of transport links in the Isle of Man

The island has a total of 688 miles (1,107 km)[1] of public roads, all of which are paved. Roads are named using a numbering scheme similar to those used in the numbering of roads in Great Britain and Northern Ireland; each road is assigned a letter, which represents the road's category, and a subsequent 1–2 digit number. A roads constitute the main roads of the island whilst roads labelled B to D will decrease in size and or quality. U roads are yet smaller. There is no national speed limit - that is to say, the majority of roads one may drive at any speed which is safe and appropriate. Careless and dangerous driving laws still apply of course, so one may not travel at absolutely any speed. Nevertheless, sight lines are such that there are parts of the network where someone in an appropriate vehicle could approach 200mph - but local speed limits are prevalent in a similar manner to the UK. Nevertheless, measured travel speeds are often relatively low. One potential reason for this is that locals are permitted to start driving at the age of sixteen, when they are limited to 50mph for two years (indeed all drivers are limited to 50mph in the first two years after passing their driving test) and some are not used to having to make progress in the same way that drivers using a larger road network like in the UK are (even an awful driver can get from anywhere in the island to anywhere else in ninety minutes). Set against that is a strong culture of motor sport enthusiasm (pinaccled in the TT, but there are a huge number of events throughout the year) and the better locals are well used to traversing country roads at speeds illegal in roads of such low quality anywhere else on earth. This leads to a very diverse level of both driving competence and speed. It is probably safe to say the typical driver is both highly competent and relatively slow, rarely exceeding 75mph (121 km/h). Nevertheless it should be noted that in a referendum in the 2000s the introduction of blanket speed limits was refused by the population, suggesting that a large number appreciate the freedom.

There is a comprehensive bus network, operated by Bus Vannin, a department of the Isle of Man Government, with most routes originating or terminating in Douglas.

Isle of Man travel speeds[2]
Measurement site Speed limit
85% percentile Measurement dates
Eastbound Westbound
Ballafreer House, Main Road, Marown No limit 46 47 2005 (27 June – 4 July)
Main Road, Baldrine 30 36 36 2005 (21–28 November)
Glen Mona, Maughold (parish) No limit 38 42 2005 (26 Sept. – 3 Oct.)
Ballamodha Straight, Malew 40 51 50 2006 (6–13 March)
Ballacobb, Ballaugh No limit 51 40 2006 (3–10 July)
Richmond Hill, Douglas (by bus stop) 50 55 50 2006 (24 April – 1 May)
Shore Road, Outside Limekilns Farm No limit 49 50 2004 (2–8 August)
Windy Corner, Onchan No limit 54 57 2006 (17–24 July)


The island has a total of 68.5 km (42.6 mi) of railway, of which 43.5 km (27.0 mi) is electrified. There are six separate rail systems on the island:

Beginning at Peel, on the west coast of the island, one can make a 'circular tour' of the Isle of Man railways - with a little bit of help from the buses. Taking Bus Route 8 from Peel to Port Erin, you pick up the Isle of Man Steam Railway for a journey to Douglas. A short walk from Douglas Railway Station to the promenade brings you to the Douglas Horse Tram line, which takes you to Derby Castle at the opposite end of the prom. At Derby Castle, the Manx Electric Railway begins its route northwards to Laxey and Ramsey. At Laxey, the MER interchanges with the Snaefell Mountain Railway - and a change of carriage will allow you to ride to the top of Snaefell. Upon returning to Laxey, the MER offers a route northwards to Ramsey. The final leg, from Ramsey back to Peel, is achieved by taking Bus Route 5. Leaving Peel at 8:10 am, and allowing time for a light lunch at the top of Snaefell, the total journey time is a little over 6 hours.


The only commercial airport on the island is the Isle of Man Airport at Ronaldsway. Scheduled services operate to and from various cities in the United Kingdom and Ireland, operated by several different airlines.

The island's other paved runways are at Jurby and Andreas. Jurby remains in Isle of Man Government ownership and is used for motorsport events and, previously, airshows, while Andreas is privately owned and used by a local glider club. The old Hall Caine Airport, a grass field near Ramsey, is no longer used.

Aircraft Register

The Isle of Man Aircraft Register became operational on 1 May 2007. The register is open to all non-commercial aircraft and is intended to be of particular interest to professionally flown corporate operators. As of November 2012 a total of 537 corporate and private aircraft had been registered.

Ports and harbours

Ports are located at Castletown, Douglas, Peel and Ramsey. Douglas is served by frequent ferries to and from United Kingdom and Ireland; the sole operator is the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company with exclusive use of the Isle of Man Sea Terminal, and the Douglas port linkspans under the conditions of the user agreement negotiated with the Isle of Man Government.

Merchant marine

The Isle of Man register comprises 226 ships of 1,000 GRT or over, totalling 6,055,436 GRT or 9,972,459 tonnes deadweight (DWT). This figure includes some foreign-owned ships registered on the Island as a flag of convenience: Australia, 3; Cyprus, 4; Denmark, 30; Estonia, 3; France, 1; Germany, 57; Greece, 8; Hong Kong, 11; Iceland, 1; Italy, 6; Monaco, 4; Netherlands, 2; New Zealand, 1; Norway, 10; Singapore, 2; Sweden, 3; United Kingdom, 80; United States, 1.

A breakdown of ships by type: bulk, 25; cargo, 40; chemical tanker, 25; combination bulk, 2; container, 19; liquefied gas, 31; multi-functional large load carrier, 1; petroleum tanker, 59; refrigerated cargo, 1; roll on/roll off, 17; specialised tanker, 1; vehicle carrier, 5.


  1. ^ Isle of Man - About the Island
  2. ^ "Transport Implications of the Isle of Man Strategic Plan: Report" ( 

External links

  • Isle of Man Transport (Arraghey Ellan Vannin)
  • Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
  • Isle of Man Airport
  • Isle of Man Aircraft Registry
  • Searchable Isle of Man Bus/Railway Timetables
  • Manx Electric Railway Society
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