Cairn Valley Light Railway

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Cairn Valley Light Railway
Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway
Cairn Valley Junction
Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway
Dumfries, Lochmaben and Lockerbie Railway
Castle Douglas Branch Junction
Dumfries Goods(CR)
Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway

The Cairn Valley Light Railway was built under the regulations of the Light Railways Act 1896 and was opened on 1 March 1905.[1] It connected the market town of Dumfries in south-west Scotland to the village of Moniaive in Dumfriesshire at the end of the Cairn Valley.


Rails at the old Crossford station

The line was 17.5 miles (28.2 km) long and had stations at Irongray, Newtonairds, Stepford, Dunscore, Crossford and Kirkland. It was built by the Glasgow and South Western Railway as a subsidiary company. The line was single throughout with passing loops and some goods sidings. Plans had involved developing Moniaive into a resort, the countryside being very scenic and peaceful, but apart from the construction of a few outlying hotels little progress was made.

Trains travelled on the Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway for the last mile into Dumfries.

The line was operated by a series of elderly express locomotives, often pulling a single coach; and also steam railmotors,which were not very successful,being noisy and poorly sprung. Eventually the railcar steam engine and the coach were separated,but this was a failure as well in service on this line. Traffic was never heavy, with between two and four trains per day in each direction. There was some goods traffic, mainly livestock and timber from Moniaive and also some road gravel stones from the quarry at Morrinton, near Stepford. Bus competition hit the revenues of the line hard and passenger services were suspended as a wartime economy on 3 May 1943[1] and to all traffic on 4 August 1947.[1]

Connections to other lines[edit]

Current operations[edit]

The frontage of Moniaive station in 2009

The line is closed and lifted.

There was a little left of the railway in 2011. The wood and brick Moniaive station survives in use as a farm shed but is slowly disntegrating. Most of the other stations are intact as private houses. The graceful brick built three arch Dunscore Viaduct survives but is partly hidden by trees. Part of the old trackbed is used as a farmtrack in places though much has been ploughed up. Near Dunscore a deep cutting has been filled in with stone waste. Suggestions have been mooted that part of the line might make a good preserved heritage railway,but efforts in this respect at the Moniaive end,where the station is still extant,have come to nothing. The Moniaive station goods shed,used as a farm store,was badly damaged by fire in 2012.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Awdry (1990), page 64