Moate, Co.Westmeath, was the only important stopping place on the former Midland Great Western Railway's main line between Mullingar and Athlone, which opened in August 1851. Up to 1973, this line was used by all Galway and Mayo line trains, but these were re-routed via Portarlington from Great Southern & Western Railway's Heuston Station in Dublin. Thus the Mullingar to Athlone line became the poor relation to the main line to Galway and the west after this, with the last scheduled passenger service having traversed the route in 1987. The line remained in use however for frequent freight trains up to the late 1980s, and latterly specials and PWD workings until early 2000s. Today, Moate has fallen into a state of dereliction since the late 1980s onwards, and today the MGWR boarded up station, wooden waiting shelter, footbridge and water tower are rather worse for wear. The signal cabin remains in situ, but the associated signalling equipment has been removed and a permanent fence has been placed across the tracks.
The derelict Moate Station, looking east towards Mullingar in 2003. The station buildings here are typical Midland Great Western Railway types, including the waiting shelter on the down platform. Moate, June 2012, nearly 10 years later sees the station having fallen into serious dereliction. Grass and shrubs have taken hold over both the track and disused platforms. Moate, looking east from the station footbridge in 2003, showing the MGWR water tower and signal cabin, as well as the level crossing. At this time Moate remained a signalling blockpost, although the Mullingar to Athlone line was largely disused. In happier times, 141 Class locos Nos.149+163 lead a Knock pilgrimage special through Moate en route to Claremorris on the 24th September 1989. Up to the late 1980s, the station at Moate was well maintained, with the Mullingar-Athlone line still seeing the occasional special train. ©Colm O'Callaghan
The forlorn Moate Station, looking west towards Athlone from the footbridge. Since this view was taken in 2003, several trees and shrubs have grown up along here. In August 1987, 071 Class locomotive No.075 runs into Moate Station with a lengthy stock transfer from Athlone to Dublin. During this time the station buildings and platforms were well maintained, as can be seen in this photo. ©Jonathan M.Allen A clean looking A Class (or 001 Class) loco No.014, calls at Moate Station with the regular Sunday only passenger working over the Athlone-Mullingar line in June 1985. Following the withdrawal of this service in the 1987, the Mullingar-Athlone route gradually fell into decline. ©Colm O'Callaghan A more recent view of Moate, taken in June 2012, showing the now very overgrown station. Although the level crossing gates have been replaced, a permanent metal fence has been installed across the tracks preventing access to the abandoned station.
Moate, without any trains present in this June 1985 view looking west towards Athlone, showing the neat and well maintained station buildings and platforms. The station appeared in the 1978 movie The First Great Train Robbery, starring Sean Connery. See Youtube. ©Colm O'Callaghan The only regular freight working over the Mullingar-Athlone route was the Dublin to Ballina Asahi liner. After 1987, this freight service was then routed via the Portarlington to Athlone line. Prior to this changeover in this June 1986 view, the signalman having arrived by motor cycle, closes the crossings gates prior to signalling the liner through to the station. ©Colm O'Callaghan Accelerating through Moate is 141 Class loco No.161, seen in charge of the Dublin to Ballina Asahi liner train as it heads for Athlone. The liner consisted of dangerous chemicals, which were carried in tanks and usually marshalled at the rear of the train as on this occasion. The liner usually had a very late departure from Dublin and could only be photographed in high summer west of Mullingar. ©Colm O'Callaghan On 4th July 1993, ex Dublin & South Eastern Railway 2-6-0 loco No.461, takes the RPSI's 'Shannon Railtour' through Moate Station while operating from Dublin to Galway. The locomotive is carrying a Telecom Éireann headboard, a company which was subequently privatised and rebranded as Eircom. ©Colm O'Callaghan
By the late 1990s, Moate Station had slipped into decay. The only regular train over the Mullingar-Athlone route was by now the annual weed spraying train, seen been hauled through the station in June 1998 by 141 Class loco No.173. Judgeing from the vegatation caught on the loco's side walkways, the train has probably battled through several overgrown trees and shrubs. ©Colm O'Callaghan Nowadays the Mullingar-Athlone line is totally impassable for trains, with last weed sprayer having operated in 2003. This recent view of Moate Station from the former 'Down' platform shows the extant of the vegatation on the line. The 1850s era Midland Great Western station building, located on the 'Up' platform at Moate Station. Now boarded up and fenced off, the structure is looking very sorry for itself. The once attractive Midland Great Western Railway waiting shelter on the 'Down' platform at Moate has suffered the attention of the local vandals for several years now, and is surprising that it is still surviving just about.
The station forecourt at Moate, showing the fencing that now surrounds the station site. The rusty footbridge is most likely condenmned at this stage. Moate, looking east towards Mullingar from the Athlone end of the 'Up' platform. The new fencing across the track can be seen and although it does have a gate to allow the passage of trains it is most likely never going to happen. Moate, looking east towards Mullingar from the station level crossing, showing the adjacent signal cabin. The crossing gates have been renewed, but the vegatation along the disused track suggests that the new gates will never see any action. Moate signal cabin, as seen in June 2012. The cabin did receive a new coat of paint post 2003, but the Mullingar-Athlone line has now fallen into total dereliction.
Although out of regular use for a number of years, the interior of Moate signal cabin remained neat and tidy, as seen in 2003. Nowadays however, with the removal of the signalling equipment, the cabin appears empty and lifeless. A view looking east towards Mullingar from Moate Station level crossing, showing the passing loop on the right. Today, Moate is the only blockpost to remain between Mullingar and Athlone. This is the large stone built goods shed at Moate, located at the west end of the station. The track leading to the shed have been removed. A more recent view of the goods shed at Moate shows how overgrown both the track, and the structure, has become since 2003. Regular goods traffic to Moate had ceased in 1974.
Another view of the former goods shed at Moate, which is now longer served by any siding. This view is looking east towards Mullingar, with the overgrown loop in the foreground. Seen at the same location but in March 1992, Northern Ireland Railway's MV Class loco No.104 (ex CIE C Class No.216), takes the Irish Traction Group's 'Beet Route' railtour out of Moate Station while en route to Athlone. On the right can be seen the former cattle bank. ©Colm O'Callaghan The track at the western end of Moate Station nowadays disappears into the grass. A little beyond is Jone's Lake level crossing, now totally obscured by the trees and shrubs. An original pre-1925 Midland Great Western Railway rail length, seen at the loop at Moate Station in 2003.
Located between Athlone and Moate was the 73rd Milebox, a former signalling blockpost and loop, used to split the long single track section between the two towns following the removal of the double track in the late 1920s. Closed in 1962, the cabin, formerly sited at Monkstown near Athlone, was still in situ when this 1989 view was taken. The trackbed of the former loop is in the foreground. ©Colm O'Callaghan A recent view taken in June 2012 reveals that the disused signal cabin is no more, apart from the concrete foundation and debris still to be seen on the 'Down' side of the line. The headshunt siding off the loop at this end of the blockpost also served the Mount Temple Agricultural Co-operative, and the remnants of the access road to this siding can still be seen today.