The International Steam Pages

Cyprus Railways 2004

For an update by James Waite (2006 and 2009) and some pictures, click here. There is also a 2011 update available,

Hugh Ballantyne made a nostalgic return to Cyprus after an absence of fifty years when he lived there as a teenager, to trace the remains of the two 2’ 6” gauge railways, the Cyprus Government Railway and the Cyprus Mines Corporation mineral railway, both of which used steam power. Both railways are situated in (or mainly in) what is now Turkish speaking Northern Cyprus. He reports:

It was reassuring to find the little Hunslet 0-6-0 T No. 1 of the CGR still on its plinth outside Famagusta station and in fair condition. It had originally been placed on display in 1953 two years after the CGR closed to all traffic, but had been given a comprehensive cosmetic overhaul under the direction of Colonel Barry Turner of 48 Command Workshops R.E.M.E in 1972. It has now been on display longer than its service life and this year celebrates its centenary as Hunslet 846/1904.

Famagusta station building is still in use as the Land Registry offices and on its street side looks exactly as it did in railway use, save for nameboard. Behind the station down in the former loco shed yard the shed water column remains as does the Cowans Sheldon hand crane outside the workshops. These items are now in the Highways Department open yard which is where the three road loco shed once stood. Nearby the railway workshops still stand, but empty and disused, with the frame of the gantry hoist outside.

There is no trace of Nicosia station despite the claim by Eti Limited, a large importer of cars and consumer goods in North Cyprus, that their elegant colonial style building was the CGR station.

Further west at Morphou the station building and goods shed remain, the former is a private house and part of the latter used by a car repairer. Both are alongside the main road from Nicosia and on approaching the town cannot fail to be noticed. On the Kyrenia road about a mile out of Morphou is a park in which CMC 2-8-2T 3 (Baldwin 57790/24) is on display. Its makers plates and most of the wooden sides of the cab are missing.

Finally on the CGR (but in Greek speaking territory) the roofless shell of Evrykhou station remains, now standing isolated in a field. This is most surprising considering this was the furthest station 75 miles from Famagusta, at the end of Section 3 up the Solea Valley, and closed in 1933!

The CMC which operated its 2’ 6” mineral railway also in the Solea Valley had to close its operation in 1974 when the fighting between the Greek and Turkish speaking sides divided the Island. The mines were situated on the Greek speaking side and the yards and jetties for export of the copper pyrites at Xeros and Karavostasi in the north side and partly along the UN ‘no go’ dividing line. A visit to Xeros on 26 February 2004 found the whole area derelict but along the main road by the jetty there is a cafe with a small museum of various items. Behind the café, beached and abandoned to rust away is the little CMC tug called ‘Tid’.

Xeros yard on the south side of the main road is littered with vast amounts of debris of an industrial site including bogie hopper wagons and yellow liveried diesel locomotives in strange positions some up to their axles in dirt, quietly rusting away. Nearby Argentinian UN soldiers in the adjoining camp look on with disinterest.

CMC No. 4, a squat 0-8-2T Baldwin 60344/27, is the one remaining steam loco at Xeros dumped under a hillside and devoid of all plates, but its yellow livery and insignia making identification easy. The diesels 1 to 9 inclusive were lying about the yard.

Another CMC diesel which was also numbered 7, a small American built 0-4-0D by VIW 4712/48, has been repainted black with a red band and is plinthed besides the main Nicosia to Kyrenia road about four miles north of Nicosia.

Finally, back on the Greek side of Nicosia at the Laiki Cultural Centre at 32 Byron Avenue Nicosia, there is an attractive exhibition (free admission) featuring all the railways in Cyprus. It has photographs, artefacts, models and one of the Vasiliko mineral railway 0-6-0 diesels outside the front and the body of CGR goods brake van 152 in the rear yard. This exhibition will be on display until August 2004 so enthusiasts visiting the Island should find it interesting. 

Rob Dickinson