Great Southern Railways
|Dates of operation||1925–1945|
|Predecessor||Midland Great Western Railway
Great Southern and Western Railway
Dublin and South Eastern Railway
Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway
|Successor||CIÉ Railways Division (1945-1987)
Iarnród Éireann (1987-present)
|Track gauge||5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)|
|Length||854 miles (1,374 km)|
The Great Southern Railways Company (often Great Southern Railways, or GSR) was an Irish company that from 1925 until 1945 owned and operated all railways that lay wholly within the Irish Free State (the present-day Republic of Ireland).
Provision for the creation of the company was made by the Railways Act 1924, which mandated the amalgamation (in the case of the 4 major railway companies) and absorption (of the 22 smaller companies) of all railways wholly within the Irish Free State. Only cross-border railways, most notably the Great Northern Railway, remained outside its control.
The Great Southern and Western Railway Company, the Midland Great Western Railway Company of Ireland and the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway Company agreed to terms for amalgamation, forming the Great Southern Railway Company by way of the Railways (Great Southern) Preliminary Amalgamation Scheme of 12 November 1924 (SI no. 31 of that year).
The Great Southern Railways Company was formed when the fourth major company, the Dublin and South Eastern Railway, joined these companies under the Great Southern Railways Amalgamation Scheme of 1 January 1925 (SI no. 1 of that year) and the Great Southern Railways Supplemental Amalgamation Scheme, also 1925.
The smaller companies were absorbed under several successive Statutory Instruments.
Buses and hotels
From 1929, when it acquired a stake in the Irish Omnibus Company, the company also ran bus services. These operations became the responsibility from 1 January 1934 of the Great Southern Railways Omnibus Department. The hotel group formed by the company, Great Southern Hotels, continued to bear the company's name until its privatisation in 2006. Some of the hotels continue to use the Great Southern name as of 2007.
CIÉ maintain a full list of the twenty five companies which constituted the Great Southern Railways in 1925. This is not entirely accurate, as it includes the Fishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours Company which still exists today, although GSR took over 50% of its shares upon its creation, the other 50% being held by the UK Great Western Railway. The respective shareholdings in the company, now essentially a shelf company, are held today by Iarnród Éireann and Stena Line.