In 1873 the Isle of Man Railway Company opened a three-foot gauge line from Douglas to Peel and another, from Douglas to Port Erin, in 1874.
A separate concern, the Manx Northern Railway Company, built the line from St John’s to Ramsey, via Kirk Michael and Ballaugh, which opened in September 1879; a second stage, from St John’s to Foxdale was opened in August 1886.
The Peel and Ramsey lines were closed in 1968-1969 and lifted, together with the Foxdale branch.
Today the one remaining line is the 15 and a half-mile section from Douglas to Port Erin. Taken over by the Isle of Man Government in 1978, this seasonal service, acknowledged as the longest narrow gauge steam line in the British Isles, calls at Port Soderick, Santon, Ballasalla, Ronaldsway, Castletown, Ballabeg, Colby, The Level, Port St Mary and Port Erin, a journey of approximately 60 minutes.
The service operates with the original rolling stock but with a little more than a dozen out what were 75 passenger coaches in the early days.
Some sections of the old lines still remain but serve only as popular walking paths throughout rural stretches of the Island.