WHEN CYPRUS HAD RAIL­WAY TRAINS

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - FOOD, DRINK and OTHER MAT­TERS with Pa­trick Skin­ner

One evening a few years ago, I sat with a vis­i­tor from New Zealand on the ter­race of our house in Vouni. “What Cyprus needs to re­duce road con­ges­tion is a rail­way”, he said. I was able to tell him that, in­deed, Cyprus had one. He thought it should be re­sus­ci­tated and run along the Green Line, serv­ing both Greek and Turkish com­mu­ni­ties. It could be called “THE BUF­FER CHUFFER” and the pas­sen­ger coaches, he said, could be di­vided down the mid­dle so that the two com­mu­ni­ties could ob­serve their sep­a­rated state. Cyn­i­cal, yes, and sad, too. He added that if a mad, very wealthy res­i­dent of Cyprus would fi­nance the re­build­ing of at least a sec­tion of the rail­way, he could guar­an­tee the sup­ply of sev­eral redundant steam lo­co­mo­tives and rolling stock from New Zealand. Pipe dreams, in­flu­enced by a warm evening and a glass or two of Ouzo?

As a lover of rail­ways, I am sorry to have missed trav­el­ling by train on the is­land by some years. Now, for a ques­tion… How many read­ers could tell me what the map be­low shows?

An­swer:

It rep­re­sents the 122 km (76 miles) of the Cyprus Govern­ment Rail­way. I can hear read­ers, es­pe­cially younger ones, ask­ing in­cred­u­lously “What rail­way?” In fact, be­tween Oc­to­ber 1906 and De­cem­ber 1951, pas­sen­ger and freight ser­vices were op­er­ated daily, serv­ing 39 sta­tions, stops and halts. The most no­table, i.e. com­mer­cially im­por­tant, were Fa­m­a­gusta, Pras­tio Me­sao­ria, An­gastina, Tra­choni, Ni­cosia, Kokkinotrim­ithia, Mor­phou, Kalo Cho­rio (Çaml›köy) and Evrychou.

Hav­ing been the first na­tion to de­velop rail­ways from 1830 on­wards, Bri­tain built rail­ways through­out its Em­pire and as a Bri­tish colony Cyprus was no ex­cep­tion. The Chief En­gi­neer was Bri­tish; the lo­co­mo­tives were Bri­tish-made, as were pas­sen­ger car­riages and many of the com­po­nents of track, sig­nalling and so forth. Like so many other rail net­works around the world, es­pe­cially those in govern­ment own­er­ship, the Cyprus Govern­ment Rail­way (CGR) lost money from the start and it was closed down due to fi­nan­cial rea­sons. An ex­ten­sion of the rail­way which was built to serve the Cyprus Mines Cor­po­ra­tion lin­gered on un­til 1974. His­tor­i­cal Note When the first Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner, Sir Gar­net Wolse­ley, ar­rived in Cyprus in 1878, he was keen to con­struct a rail­way on the is­land but the project did not come to fruition for a long time, due to the un­cer­tainty of the length of the Bri­tish man­date in Cyprus. In July 1903, Fred­er­ick Shelford - on be­half of the Crown Agents - sub­mit­ted a fea­si­bil­ity study for the con­struc­tion of a rail­way line that would orig­i­nate at Fa­m­a­gusta and ter­mi­nate at Kar­avostasi via Ni­cosia and Mor­phou, at a to­tal cost of 141,526 pounds. Con­struc­tion started in 1904.

Above:

one of CGR’s 12 coal-burn­ing steam lo­co­mo­tives, Num­ber 11, a 4-4-0, built in Eng­land by Nas­myth Wil­son and Com­pany pre­par­ing for de­par­ture from Fa­m­a­gusta for Ni­cosia, in around 1943. The six coaches could each ac­com­mo­date about 40 peo­ple.

By the time the to­tal 76 miles (122 km) of the CGR had been com­pleted, an­nual run­ning costs had risen sharply to 199,367 pounds, which re­mained con­stant through­out the op­er­a­tion pe­riod of the line. the CGR car­ried 3,199,934 tons of com­mer­cial goods and freight and 7,348,643 pas­sen­gers dur­ing its op­er­at­ing his­tory.

The Cyprus Govern­ment Rail­way served both the colo­nial au­thor­i­ties and the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion in many ways, the prin­ci­pal ones be­ing: fol­lows:

* To serve the port of Fa­m­a­gusta, as a freight trans­fer sys­tem.

* To trans­fer tim­ber from the Troo­dos Moun­tains to towns and cities across Cyprus.

* Car­riage of freight, ore and min­er­als for the Cyprus Mines Cor­po­ra­tion.

The lo­cal rail­way sta­tions func­tioned as a place of ex­change of goods and ser­vices, while some also op­er­ated as tele­phone cen­tres, tele­graph of­fices and/or post of­fices.

CGR trains car­ried mail from abroad, which Khe­di­vial Mail Line (1912–1939).

The var­i­ous sta­tions were des­ig­nated by large trilin­gual (Greek, Turkish and English) white signs. The CGR owned a to­tal of 12 lo­co­mo­tives, 17 coaches and about 100 multi-pur­pose wag­ons, 50 of which were pur­chased from Egypt and Pales­tine.

ar­rived

in Fa­m­a­gusta

via the Egyp­tian

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