|The Cyprus railway, which operated in Cyprus from 1905 to 1951, represented one of the most important evolutions experienced by Cyprus during the British rule, contributing to a large extend towards the economic and social life in Cyprus|
When they arrived in Cyprus in 1878, the British established that there was no satisfactory communications network. Within the framework of the effort to improve the road transport system, they decided to create a railway line which would initially link Nicosia and Famagusta harbour, for the conveyance of passengers and goods, between the two cities, as well as between the villages along this line. So they started the construction of a 76-centimeter gauge railway laid on wooden sleepers (traverses). at the same time, they purchased a second hand engine and British manufactured wagons from Egypt. The first experimental trip took place on 7 August 1905 and on 21 October of the same year the Cyprus railway officially started operating. It was 37 miles long, with intermediary stops near the villages of Stylloi, Prastio of Famagusta, Genagra, Angastina and Trachoni. In 1914, the railway line was extended from Nicosia to Morphou, and later in the same year from Kalo Chorio to Morphou. The following year it was extended to Evrychou, and so the Cyprus railways covered a total distance of 76 miles. The Cyprus railway comprised 17 passenger wagons, 36 feet long each, and about 100 wagons for the transportation of goods, animals, and minerals. It stopped operating on 31 December 1951, after the last train departed from Nicosia at 14:57 and arrived at Famagusta at 16:38, from where it had departed for the first time 46 years earlier. It carried a total of 7348643 passengers and 3199934 tons of general freight. After the termination of the railway, the engines and the wagons were sold abroad and some were bought by locals in Nicosia. Much later, the steam locomotive was restored by British army engineers of Dhekelia military base and preserved as a memento at the entrance of the new city of Famagusta.
Text: Paschalis Eliopoulos, Nicosia
Source: Stamps and Philatelic Services, Cyprus Post