Irish Railway Record Society


The last scheduled train operated on the Navan-Kingscourt line on Tuesday 30 October. The line was built by the Navan & Kingscourt Railway. The Navan Junction-Kilmainham Wood section was opened in 1872 and the Kilmainham Wood-Kingscourt section in 1875. It was worked from the start by the MGWR via Clonsilla and leased by that company in 1875. Following the closure of the Clonsilla-Navan Junction line in 1963, all trains operated via the Navan-Drogheda line.

For most of its recent life, the line has seen a Monday-Friday gypsum train, with traffic for the cement factories at Platin (Drogheda) and Castlemungret (Limerick). However, following the ILDA train drivers’ dispute, Kingscourt-Drogheda traffic was largely transferred to road and traffic on the line had dropped from the daily train to a weekly train operating to the Limerick factory. The normal train was 20 four-wheel wagons hauled by a pair of small GM locos and was scheduled to depart Drogheda empty at 05.35 and arrive in Kingscourt at 08.00. The laden train was scheduled to depart Kingscourt at 10.45 and arrive back in Drogheda at 13.12. Limerick trains were worked later to Dublin and ran from there to Limerick as either dedicated trains or as part of other liner trains. A stockpile of gypsum ore was kept in a semi-enclosed shed on the Navan side of the derelict station building and loading was by means of a large front-end loader. 

Loading the Last Train at Kingscourt on 30th October 2001
Photo: Joe StLeger

In recent years, the line has seen the replacement of bridges and upgrading of accommodation crossings. Recent work on replacing sleepers was in evidence on the last day of operation. The speed limit of the line was 20-mph at time of closure and the line was characterised by the number of level crossings that the train guard had to open and close for the  train. Signalling  was  by  means of ‘Manual

Staff without reversion to Electric Train Staff’, more commonly known as ‘Single Engine in Steam’. The driver collected the large staff in Navan along with a Navan-Tara Junction miniature staff. Both were used by the train guard to operate the ground frame at Tara Junction to access the Kingscourt line. The Tara Junction-Kingscourt line was the last line in Ireland to regularly use the large staff. The Navan-Tara Junction staff was then deposited in an instrument at the Junction to allow Navan-Tara Mines staffs be obtained for working to and from the mines while the ‘branch train’ was locked in.

Driven by Driver Edwin Quigley, Drogheda Depot, the last empty train arrived in Kingscourt at 09.05 on Tuesday 30 October and loading commenced immediately. Loading was watched by a crowd of local people and the event was reported live on the local radio station. The final train, 152+187+20 four-wheel wagons, left Kingscourt at 10.32. At 12.45, it cleared Tara Mines  Junction, Navan, and thus effectively ended train services on the line and the carriage of gypsum by rail. IÉ were quoted as saying that they have no plans to lift the track.


Copyright © 2002 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: December 29, 2008 .