The possibility of building a railway – co-financed with the European Union – was floated on Monday after a meeting between government officials and visiting EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean.
Valean is on the island attending the 2022 Maritime Cyprus 2022 international conference. She held meetings with Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos and Deputy Minister for Shipping Vasilis Demetriades.
During a joint news conference later, Karousos said they discussed the idea of a railway and tram.
“The studies exist, and some very good preparatory work has been done, and we know that with a light railway we could link up the main cities of Cyprus and the airport,” Karousos said.
The Cypriot officials also discussed with Valean ways of co-financing the project.
According to Karousos, a railway would help ease traffic congestion as well as tackle the rising cost of private travel due to high energy prices.
“Based on the studies we have, it [the railway] could be installed inside the current road network.”
The minister added: “Today the door has opened, we have taken the first step, and we shall do everything we can to promote and secure the necessary co-financing from the various EU funds available.”
Cyprus currently has no operational railways.
The Cyprus Government Railway (CGR), a narrow-gauge railway network that operated in Cyprus from the early 20th century, was shut down in 1951 due to lack of funding.
With a total length of 76 miles (122 km), the CGR featured 39 stations, stops and halts, the most prominent of which served Famagusta, Prastio Mesaoria, Angastina, Trachoni, Nicosia, Kokkinotrimithia, Morphou, Kalo Chorio and Evrychou. An extension of the railway, built to serve the Cyprus Mining Corporation, operated until 1974.
According to online information, the last train making a run on the CGR departed Nicosia station for Famagusta on December 31,1951. Throughout its 46 year history, the Cyprus railway train line carried over 7 million passengers and 3 million tons of goods and minerals.
The Cyprus Mining Corporation used the railway for transporting freight, ore and minerals across Cyprus. Some of the stations along the route also served as telephone exchanges and post office/telegram offices as well as train stations. During both World Wars, the railway was also used to transport troops from Famagusta, Xeros and the airport.