WHEN CYPRUS HAD RAILWAY TRAINS
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?
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.
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.
via the Egyptian