Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway

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Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway
Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway.jpg
The CB&SCR in 1906
Dates of operation1849 (1849)–1961 (1961)
SuccessorGreat Southern Railways
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Length94 miles (151 km)
Albert Quay terminus Cork, 1948

Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway (CB&SCR), was an Irish gauge (1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)) railway in Ireland. It opened in 1849 as the Cork and Bandon Railway, changed its name to Cork Bandon and South Coast Railway in 1888 and became part of the Great Southern Railway in 1924.

The CB&SCR served the south coast of County Cork between Cork and Bantry. It had a route length of 94 miles (151 km), all of it single track. Many road car routes connected with the line, including the route from Bantry to Killarney.


Surviving station building and platforms at Drimoleague

Extensions to the railway[edit]

  • The Cork and Kinsale Junction Railway (C&KJR), 11 miles (18 km), opened in 1863 and was bought by the Cork and Bandon in 1879.
  • The West Cork Railway (WCR) (Bandon to Dunmanway), 17.5 miles (28 km), opened June 1866 and bought by the Cork and Bandon in 1879.
  • Ilen Valley Railway (IVR) (Dunmanway to Skibbereen), 16 miles (26 km), opened 1877 and bought by the Cork and Bandon in 1879. In 1886 Skibbereen became an interchange with the 914 mm (3 ft) narrow gauge Schull and Skibbereen Railway.
    • On 1 January 1880 the Cork and Bandon Railway took over the C&KJR, the WCR and the lease of the IVR including its proposed Bantry extension. This completed the Cork and Bandon main line.
  • The Bantry Extension Railway (from Drimoleague) opened for traffic 1 July 1881, 11 miles (18 km). In order to give the railway access to a deep water port, a further extension was opened which was opened in 1892 (and a pier built in 1909, which was abandoned in 1946). Eugene Hourihan (circa 1875–1963) from Ardra, Scart, Bantry recalled seeing the line laid as a child and removed as an old man.[citation needed]
  • The Clonakilty Extension Railway (from Clonakilty Junction), 9 miles (14 km), opened 1886.
  • The Baltimore Extension Railway (from Skibbereen), 8 miles (13 km), opened May 1893.
    • The Bantry, Clonalkilty and Baltimore extension railways were three nominally separate companies whose lines were worked by the CB&SCR. All three were absorbed into the Great Southern Railways in 1925.
  • The Shannonvale Horse Railway. The Bennett family ran a flour mill at Shannonvale, about 2 miles (3 km) north of Clonakilty. In the early 1890s the CB&SCR agreed to provide a siding 0.5 miles (800 m) long to link the mill with the railway. Horse traction was used uphill, and trains were worked by gravity downhill.

GSR and CIÉ years[edit]

The railway became part of the Great Southern Railway in 1924, which became the Great Southern Railways in 1925. The GSR was consolidated into Córas Iompair Éireann in 1945.

CIÉ introduced AEC railcars to the railway in the 1950s, which helped reduce operating costs.


1948 Cork to Bantry timetable

On the right is the Cork to Bantry passenger timetable that was operational from 1948 until the closure in 1961. A few points may be noted from it:

  • Travel time was about 2 hours. In 2008, a car journey (without the nine intermittent stops) is less than 30 minutes faster, according to the AA website.
  • It was not possible to make a same-day return journey from Bandon to Dublin as the Cork express train left at 9:00 am (arriving at 12:00 pm) and departed at 2:25 pm from Heuston (which would have allowed the 6:00 pm connection to Bandon to be made though).


Due to economic problems, competition from road traffic and falling passenger numbers, the line closed on 1 April 1961.[1] The tracks were later sold to a scrap dealer and the trackbed sold to local farmers.[citation needed]

Rolling stock[edit]

Following the 1924 grouping the Great Western Railway inherited 20 locomotives CB&SCR.[2][3]:380 At some point the CB&SCR was recorded as having 68 coaching vehicles and 455 goods vehicles.


The locomotives and carriages were various shades of olive green ofte with yellow lining.[2]

Notable features[edit]

Chetwynd Viaduct[edit]

Chetwynd Viaduct

The Chetwynd Viaduct carried the line over a valley and the main Bandon road (now the N71) between the townlands of Chetwynd and Rochfordstown about 2 miles (3 km) southwest of Cork city.[4] It was designed by Charles Nixon (a former pupil of I.K. Brunel) and built between 1849 and 1851 by Fox, Henderson and Co, which also built the Crystal Palace in London.

The 100 feet (30 m) cast iron ribs were cast on site. When in situ they had transverse diagonal bracing and lattice spandrels that supported a deck of iron plates. These in turn supported the permanent way. The viaduct is 91 feet (28 m) high, has four 110 feet (34 m) spans, each span composed of four cast iron arched ribs, carried on masonry piers 20 feet (6 m) thick and 30 feet (9 m) wide. The overall span between end abutments is 500 feet (150 m).

The structure was seriously damaged in the Irish Civil War in 1922, but was subsequently repaired. It was in regular use until the line was closed in 1961, though "recovery" trains continued to use it during the dismantling of the line until at least 1965. The bulk of the decking was in place as late as 1970, other than at the ends, but this was all subsequently removed for safety reasons.

Gogginshill Tunnel[edit]

Approach cutting to Gogginshill Tunnel

The Gogginshill Tunnel near Ballinhassig in Co. Cork, was constructed between February 1850 and December 1851 by 300 men working day and night. There are three ventilation shafts and the tunnel is lined with brick, which was added between 1889 and 1890 after some minor collapses of the rock face.

It is the longest abandoned railway tunnel within the Republic of Ireland, measuring 906 yards (828 metres) end to end.

Halfway Viaduct[edit]

Halfway Viaduct

The Viaduct is located at Halfway, between Innishannon and Ballinhassig, c.30m above the valley floor. It is a three arch viaduct of masonry construction.

Kilpatrick Tunnel[edit]

Kilpatrick Tunnel east portal

The Kilpatrick (Innishannon) tunnel is 122 meters in length and located less than 1 km west of Inishannon, just before the Bandon river crossing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Closing of Cork Railways". Dáil Éireann. Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas. 26 October 1960. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway". irishrailwayana. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  3. ^ Clements, Jeremy & McMahon, Michael (2008). Locomotives of the GSR. Newtownards: Colourpoint Books. ISBN 978-1-906578-26-8.
  4. ^ "25-inch map centred on Chetwynd Viaduct". Mapviewer. Ordnance Survey Ireland. 1 June 1900. pp. Cork sheet 86–01. Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2015.

Sources and further reading[edit]

  • Baker, Brian (2009). "West Cork Railways (DVD)". The Railway Children. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  • Creedon, Colm (1986). The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. 1. Cork.[clarification needed]
  • Creedon, Colm (1986). The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. 2. Cork.[clarification needed]
  • Creedon, Colm (1991). The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. 3. Cork.[clarification needed]
  • Hume, Robert,"The mystery crash of the West Cork train that never reached Dunmanway", Southern Star 13 May 2017, p.9
  • Kelly, Sean. "Steam and Steel". 2. Bantry Historical and Archaeological Society. ISSN 0791-6612. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Lyons, Tom (1989). The Southern Star Centenary Supplement. Skibbereen: The Southern Star.
  • Butler, Richard (2011). Article marking the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Cork Bandon & South Coast Railway. The Southern Star.
  • O'Donovan, Daniel, On removal of Bantry line Durrus, Bantry, (oral history)[clarification needed]
  • Shepherd, Ernie (2005). Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway. Hinckley: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-198-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[edit]