The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway
(CB&SCR) was a major Irish railway. It operated from Cork
and served towns along the southern coastal strip to the west. It had a route length of 93.75 miles (150km), all single line. The railway mainly carried tourist traffic, with many road car routes connecting with the line, including The Prince of Wales Route
The CB&SCR was incorporated under the Cork and Bandon Railway Act,
1845 and opened for traffic between Bandon
in December 1851. The company suffered financial problems for the first 25 years as access to Cork required two major civil works, the Ballinhassig tunnel and the Chetwynd Viaduct. The last train travelled on 31 March 1961
The Ballinhassig tunnel
This was a half-mile (0.8km) tunnel for access to Cork, the construction of which delayed overall completion. A coach service was provided until the tunnel opened.
Though closed for almost half a century, it can still be seen and accessed
The Chetwynd Viaduct
The Chetwynd Viaduct carried the line over a valley and the main Bandon road for over 100 years between 1851-1961,
It still exists and is located south west of the city on the Bandon road (N71). It was designed by Charles Nixon (a former pupil of Brunel) and constructed between 1849 and 1851 by Fox, Henderson and Co, the same company who built the Crystal Palace in London.
The viaduct stands high, consisted of four spans, each span composed of four cast iron arched ribs, carried on masonry piers thick and wide. The overall span between end abutments is .
The 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 double track permanent way.
The structure was seriously damaged during the Civil War in 1922, but was subsequently repaired. The decking was removed after closure in 1961.
Extensions to the Railway
- The Cork and Kinsale Junction Railway (C&KJR), 10.75 miles (17km). This was a branch line to the coast, serving the fishing town of Kinsale and was purchased by the CBSCR in 1879.
- The West Cork Railway (WCR) (Bandon to Dunmanway, 17.5 miles (28km), opened June 1866 and operated as a separate concern.
- Ilen Valley Railway (IVR) (Dunmanway to Skibbereen (1877), 16 miles (26km). Skibbereen later became a junction with the narrow gauge Schull and Skibbereen Railway.
On 1 January 1880 the CB&SCR took over the C&KJR, the WCR and the lease of the IVR including its proposed Bantry extension. This completed the main line of the CBSCR.
- The Bantry Extension opened for traffic 1 July 1881, 11.25 miles (18km). In order to give the railway access to deep water, a further extension was opened which operated between 1909 and 1946.
Eugene Hourihan (c1875-1963) an elderly man from Ardra,Scart, Bantry recalled seeing the line laid as a child and removed as an old man.
- The Clonakilty Extension Railway (CER) (1886), 9 miles (14km)
- The Timoleague and Courtmacsherry Light Railway (1891), a branch from the (CER)
- The Baltimore Railway (1893) extension from Skibbereen, 8 miles (13km), opened May 1893.
- The Shannonvale Horse Railway. The Bennett family operated a flour milling industry at Shannonvale, north of Clonakilty. In the early 1890s the railway company agreed to provide a siding half a mile in length to link the railway with the mill. Horse traction was used when going uphill, but was unnecessary on the return journey due to the slope.
The GSR and CIÉ years
The railway was incorporated into the Great Southern Railways (Ireland) in 1924. The GSR was in turn incorporated into Coras Iompair Éireann in 1945. CIÉ introduced diesel multiple units to the railway in the 1950s, which reduced operating costs.
On the right is the Cork to Bandon passenger timetable that was operational from 1948 until the closure in 1961. There are a few points to be noted from it.
-Travel time was c.2 hours.
The current car journey (without the nine intermittant stops) 47 years after the closure is less than 10 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 9:00am (arriving at 12:00pm) and departed at 2:25pm from Heuston (which would have allowed the 6:00pm connection to Bandon to be made though)
Due to economic problems, competition from road traffic and falling passenger numbers the line closed on 1st April 1961.
The tracks were later sold to Nigeria and the land of the permanent way
sold to local farmers.
- The Southern Star Centenary Supplement,Tom Lyons, 1989.
- See The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway Vol 1/2/3 by Colm Creedon deceased, privately published 1986 on this and other Cork Railways.
- On removal of Bantry line source Daniel O'Donovan, Durrus, Bantry, oral history.
- Steam and Steel, Sean Kelly, Bantry Historical and Archaeolgical Society vol 2 ISSN 0791-6612
- Rolling stock: 20 locomotives, 68 coaching vehicles, 455 goods vehicles