Notes: St Johnston station was opened by the Londonderry & Enniskillen Railway (L&ER) on 19 April 1847. It was located on their single track Derry/Londonderry – Strabane section of line that had opened on the same day. At the time of opening there were three intermediate stations on the line and St Johnston was at the half way point (8 miles from Strabane and 7 from Derry/Londonderry). The station was located on the eastern edge of its namesake in County Donegal and close to the west bank of the River Foyle. The facilities were situated to the south of a level crossing which carried the Railway Road over the line. Being at the mid-point of the line a passing loop was provided at the station and there were goods facilities.
On 15 February 1965 the UTA closed the ‘Derry Road’ route completely and St Johnston lost all its rail services.
At the time of opening the station was served by trains that were running between Londonderry (Gallows Strand) and Strabane but from 18 April 1850 down direction (northbound) services ran to the new terminus of Londonderry Foyle Road.
The L&ER struggled financially and extending the line south from Strabane was slow. Newtownstewart was reached on 9 May 1852 and a few months later on 13 September 1852 the line opened to Omagh. It would take until 19 August 1854 for Enniskillen to be reached by railway.
By February 1859 Strabane was connected to Ireland’s capital city Dublin and by September 1861 it was connected to the north of Ireland’s largest city, Belfast. It was the route to Belfast, via Omagh, Dungannon and Portadown that later became known as the ‘Derry Road’.
On 1 January 1860 the L&ER leased its line to the Dundalk & Enniskillen Railway for 99 years’ They renamed themselves as the Irish North Western Railway (INWR) in 1862.
In 1876 the INWR merged with other railway companies to form the Great Northern Railway Ireland (GNRI).
The GNRI carried out improvements at St Johnston. A new building was provided on the down platform and a waiting room to a typical GNRI design was built on the up. The station also gained a new signal cabin in 1892.
In 1907 the line between St Johnston and Londonderry Foyle Road was doubled.
After the partition of Ireland into two separate countries in 1921 (Northern Ireland and The Irish Free State) the GNRI system found itself located within two separate countries with all of the difficulties that imposed. County Donegal became part of the Irish Free State. County Tyrone, in which Strabane was located, and County Londonderry, in which Londonderry Foyle Road was located, became part of Northern Ireland.
Nearly nine miles of the almost 15 miles long line between Derry/Londonderry and Strabane was within the Free State including St Johnston. This was particularly difficult for the GNRI and a customs post had to be created at the station. This meant that, after 1922, St Johnston became an important station for traffic to and from the Irish Free State. Partition affected goods traffic in particular and as an economy measure the GNRI singled the line from St Johnston to Derry in 1933.
In 1953 the GNRI had to be taken into the joint ownership of the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (the Irish Free State having been renamed in 1949). The two governments ran the company through a GNRI board until September 1958 when they passed the ownership to their two respective nationalised railway concerns. Strabane station being in Northern Ireland became part of the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA).
The UTA was a notoriously anti-rail organisation and they reduced the passenger service at St Johnston down to a mere handful of trains a week in 1959.
CLICK HERE FOR A DETAILED HISTORY OF ST JOHNSTON STATION
Tickets from Michael Stewart. Timetables from Jim McBride and route map by Alan Young
- Challoner, E Fairwell the Derry Road (Colourpoint, 2010)
- Johnson, S Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of The Railways of Ireland (Midland Publishing, 1997)
- Patterson, E The Great Northern Railway Ireland (The Oakwood Press, 2003)
To see the other disused
stations on the Londonderry Foyle Road - Omagh line click on the station
name: Londonderry Foyle Road,
Londonderry (Gallows Strand),Carrigans, Carrickmore,
Porthall and Strabane (GNRI)