The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) was formed in April 1876, being a merger of the Ulster Railway and the short lived Northern Railway Company (Ireland). The latter had only formed the previous year through the merger of the Dublin & Drogheda Railway and the Dublin & Belfast Junction Railway.
The GNR(I) was the third largest railway company on the island of Ireland, operating primarily in the North East part of the island, with a mainline from Dublin to Belfast and branch lines off this extending as far west as Enniskillen and Derry.
The company survived as an independent entity until 1953, when, due to its cross border status post independence of the Free State/Republic of Ireland, it had to be nationalised by the governments of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, creating what would nowadays be referred to as a 'TOC' (Train Operating Company) in the form of the Great Northern Railway Board. This was due to Northern Ireland's intense distrust of the Republic of Ireland, resulting in the physical assets of the GNR(I) being vested directly into the respective Governments' ownership, based on jurisdiction.
Due to the intransigence of the Northern Ireland Government, the arrangement ended in 1958 and the company was split between CIE and the Ulster Transport Authority in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively, with the fixed assets that were transferred to the respective Governments in 1953 being similarly vested.
Last modified: 20th August 2022
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