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Map of the CGR routes (in Greek).

The Cyprus Government Railway was a gauge railway network that operated in Cyprusmarker from October 1905 to December 1951. With a total length of , there were 39 stations, stops and halts, the most prominent of which served Famagustamarker, Prastio Mesaoriamarker, Angastinamarker, Trachonimarker, Nicosiamarker, Kokkinotrimithia, Morphoumarker, Kalo Choriomarker and Evrychoumarker. The CGR was closed down due to financial reasons. An extension of the railway which was built to serve the Cyprus Mines Corporationmarker operated until 1974.



When the first British High Commissioner, Sir Garnet Wolseley, arrived in Cyprus in 1878, he captured the idea of a railway on the island, which was not realised for a long time, due to the uncertainty of the British stay 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 start from Famagusta and, through Nicosiamarker and Morphoumarker, would reach to Karavostasimarker, with a total cost of £141,526.


The proposal was approved in November 1903 and the earthworks began in May 1904; the existing line at Famagustamarker harbour was extended to Varosha and section 1 [Famagusta-Nicosiamarker, ] was inaugurated on 21 October 1905 by High Commissioner, Sir Charles Anthony King-Harman. The construction of section 2 [Nicosia-Morphoumarker, ] began in July 1905 and the inauguration was on 31 March 1907. However, three years later, the Railway was operating at a loss and so an operation study for the CGR was conducted by Bedford Glasier. The study was published in January 1913 and suggested the construction of the terminus at Evrykhoumarker. So, the construction of Section 3 [Morphou-Evrykhou, ] began in November 1913 and it was inaugurated on 14 June 1915.


After the completion of the of the CGR, the total cost rose to £199,367, which remained constant throughout the operation period of the CGR. During the 46 years of its operation, the CGR witnessed various interesting events that marked the modern history of Cyprus, among which are:

  • During the Enosis riots in October 1931, of railway tracks were torn up, since the railway was regarded a symbol of British colonial rule.
  • the transportation of Allied troops from and to Famagusta, Nicosia Airport and Xeros during both World Wars.
  • It was targeted by the Axis powers during World War II.
  • The railway was used for the transportation of a large number of the 50,000 Jewish refugees to Karaolos internment camps, between 1946-1949.

The contribution of the CGR

A CGR ticket.

The Cyprus Government Railway had numerous and various uses, serving both the colonial authorities and the people of Cyprus, such as the following:

  • It served the port of Famagusta, as a freight transfer system.
  • It transferred timber from the Troodos Mountainsmarker to towns and cities across Cyprus.
  • It carried freight, ore and minerals, in co-operation with the Cyprus Mines Corporationmarker.
  • The local railway stations functioned as a place of exchange of goods and services, while some also operated as telephone centres, telegram offices and/or postal offices.
  • CGR trains carried mail, which arrived in Famagusta via the Khedivial Mail Line (1912-1939).

The existence of a railway in Cyprus shaped the life of Cypriots. However, during the first years of its operation, many viewed the Railway more like a spectacle, instead of a means of transportation, which is why they crowded under the bridges to admire it. Overall, the CGR carried 3,199,934 tons of paying goods and 7,348,643 passengers.

The various stations were designated by large trilingual (Greek, Turkish and English) white signs, while 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. The CGR usually employed around 200 people.


Locomotive No1 outside Famagusta Station.

Due to lack of profit, in 1932 the terminal station was placed at Kalokhorio Lefka, while from 1948 onwards it only reached up to Nicosia aerodrome. The ramshackle equipment and the unequal competition with the improved road network led the Government to the decision to definitely terminate the CGR. The last train departed from Nicosia Station at 14:57 on 31 December 1951 and arrived at Famagusta at 16:38. The dismantlement lasted up to March 1953. After an auction was announced in Cyprus Gazette, the 10 of the 12 locomotives, the tracks and part of the rolling stock were sold to the company Meyer Newman & Co, for the price of £65,626. Locomotive 1 was preserved as a memento outside Famagustamarker Station.

Some wagons were bought by locals, acquiring new and interesting uses, while the equipment was distributed among seven governmental departments. The Stations were either demolished or turned into Police Stations (Angastina, Kokkini Trimithia) or Public Works Department warehouses (Famagusta, Nicosia); Morphou Station became a grain storehouse, while at Evrykhou it operated as a sanitary centre and a forest dormitory.

During the Turkish invasion of 1974, most of the remaining installations were knocked down, thus wiping many marks of the Railway. A large part of the Nicosia-Famagusta motorway was built upon the railway track, while wagon 152 was placed in the linear park in Kaimaklimarker, in 1995. In Agios Dometiosmarker, part of the railway line recently became a linear park and a multi-purpose centre. Most of the employees were employed in state services and semi-governmental organisations.

See also


  • /The Cyprus Government Railway (1905-1951) by Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra; Nicosia, 2006.

External links

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