Iarnród Éireann

Iarnród Éireann (Irish pronunciation: [ˈiəɾˠnˠɾˠoːd̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ]) or Irish Rail, is the operator of the national railway network of Ireland. Established on 2 February 1987, it is a subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ). It operates all internal InterCity, Commuter, DART and freight railway services in the Republic of Ireland, and, jointly with Northern Ireland Railways, the Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast. In 2019, IÉ carried 50 million passengers, up from 48 million in 2018, and a record peak.[2]

Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail
TypeSubsidiary of a state-owned enterprise
IndustryRail transport
PredecessorCIÉ Railways Division (1945–1987)
Founded2 February 1987
Area served
Key people
Jim Meade (Chief Executive)
Frank Allen (Chairman)
RevenueIncrease 297.4 million (2019)[1]
Increase €529 million (2019)[1]
Increase €4.2 million (2019)[1]
OwnerGovernment of Ireland (100%)
Number of employees
3,897 (2019)
ParentCóras Iompair Éireann
Iarnród Éireann Freight
A 29000 Class Commuter train at Tara Street Station, Dublin, in 2006. The LED display is showing "Destination: Pearse Station" in Irish.
A Mark 4 carriage on the Dublin–Cork railway line
The original four rails logo 1987–1994
An IÉ 22000 Class DMU (22054) at Drogheda MacBride

Until 2013 Ireland was the only European Union state that had not implemented EU Directive 91/440 and related legislation, having derogated its obligation to split train operations and infrastructure businesses, and allow open access by private companies to the rail network. A consultation on the restructuring of Iarnród Éireann took place in 2012. The derogation ended on 14 March 2013 when the company was split in 2 sectors: Railway Undertaking and Infrastructure Manager.[3]


At the time of its establishment, the company referred to itself as Irish Rail and adopted the four rails IR logo. In 1994, the company brought the Irish form of its name to the fore, introducing a logo and corporate branding based on the letters (Iarnród Éireann) branding and logo. Both languages remained part of the official company name ("Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail"). On 29 November 2012, a new logo was introduced with a new bilingual branding; it made its first appearance on 24 January 2013.[4]

Operationally, services are divided across four regional areas:

  • Northern and Eastern services are managed from Connolly (including Sligo in the North-West)
  • Southern and Western services are managed from Heuston


Passenger servicesEdit

IÉ's passenger services are branded under three main names; InterCity, Commuter and DART.


Train passing through the Curragh in County Kildare

InterCity services are long-distance routes radiating mainly from Dublin. The Belfast – Dublin service, jointly operated with Northern Ireland Railways, is branded separately as Enterprise. Dublin's two main InterCity stations are Connolly and Heuston. Intercity services run to/from Cork, Limerick, Tralee, Ennis, Galway, Waterford, Rosslare Europort, Sligo, Westport, Wexford and Ballina. Dublin's third major station, Pearse, is the terminus for much of the suburban network in the Greater Dublin area. An additional InterCity service runs from Limerick to Waterford. This service formerly operated through to Rosslare Europort but services between Waterford and Rosslare Europort ceased after the last train on 18 September 2010. Bus Éireann now operates route 370 through the affected towns as replacement transport.[5]

A new service began on 29 March 2010 from Limerick to Galway, as part of the Western Rail Corridor, reopening the long-closed line.[6]

A January 2012 national newspaper article suggested that Iarnród Éireann was expected to seek permission in the near future from the National Transport Authority to close the Limerick–Ballybrophy railway line and the Limerick–Waterford line.[7]


A 29000 Class operating the Bray - Maynooth Service

The majority of Commuter services are based in Dublin, which has four commuter routes: Northern (Dundalk), Western (Maynooth/Longford), South-Western (Newbridge/Kildare/Portlaoise) and South-Eastern (Gorey). See Dublin Suburban Rail for more details. The Cork Suburban Rail currently has three Commuter services: to Mallow and Cobh, and a third service to Midleton which became operational on a part of the disused Youghal branch line on 30 July 2009. Limerick Suburban Rail currently consists of two lines to Ennis and Nenagh, with shuttle services to Limerick Junction. A Commuter service operates between Galway to Oranmore and Athenry.[citation needed]

Commuter trains also operate on shuttle duty for branches from the main InterCity services from Mallow to Tralee (off the Dublin – Cork route) and from Manulla Junction to Ballina (off the Dublin – Westport route), as well as acting as InterCity trains for Dublin – Rosslare and some Dublin – Sligo services, and as the aforementioned Limerick – Limerick Junction – Waterford service.[citation needed]


A DART 8500 Class in Greystones
Interior of the DART 8520 Class

The North-South route along Dublin's eastern coastal side is also host to DART, Ireland's only electrified heavy-rail service. The DART consists of many classes, the oldest and most famous one being the 8100 class which still operates, now extensively refurbished.[citation needed]

A DART 8520 Class arriving at Connolly Station

Services TableEdit

The following is a simplified table of weekday off-peak services, various irregular calling patterns have been omitted for clarity.

Route Frequency Calling at
Enterprise Dublin Connolly to Belfast Lanyon Place 1tp2h Drogheda MacBride, Dundalk Clarke, Newry, Portadown, Lurgan (1pw) Lisburn (1pw)
service jointly-operated with NI Railways
Sligo Intercity Dublin Connolly to Sligo Mac Diarmada 1tp2h Drumcondra, Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Mullingar, Edgeworthstown, Longford, Dromod, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle, Ballymote, Collooney
Mayo Intercity Dublin Heuston to Westport 4tpd Kildare (1tpd), Portarlington, Tullamore, Clara, Athlone, Roscommon, Castlerea, Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, Manulla Junction, Castlebar
Manulla Junction to Ballina 1tp2h Foxford
Galway Intercity Dublin Heuston to Galway Ceannt 1tp2h Portarlington, Tullamore, Clara, Athlone, Ballinasloe, Woodlawn, Attymon (1tpd), Athenry, Oranmore
Limerick Intercity Dublin Heuston to Limerick Colbert 1tph Portlaoise, Ballybrophy (1tpd), Templemore (2tpd), Thurles, Limerick Junction
2tpd Portlaoise, Ballybrophy, Roscrea, Cloughjordan, Nenagh, Birdhill, Castleconnell
Cork Intercity Dublin Heuston to Cork Kent 1tph Newbridge (1tpd), Kildare (2tpd), Portarlington (2tpd) Portlaoise, Ballybrophy (2tpd) Templemore (1tpd), Thurles, Limerick Junction, Charleville (1tpd), Mallow
Tralee Intercity Dublin Heuston to Tralee Ceasment 1tp2h Ballybrophy, Templemore, Thurles, Charleville, Banteer, Millstreet, Rathmore, Killarney, Farranfore
Waterford Intercity Dublin Heuston to Waterford Plunkett 8tpd Hazelhatch and Celbridge (1tpd), Sallins and Naas (1tpd), Newbridge (3tpd), Kildare (7tpd), Athy, Carlow, Muine Bheag, Kilkenny, Thomastown
Wexford Intercity Dublin Connolly to Rosslare Europort 5tpd Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Grand Canal Dock (2tpd northbound-only), Lansdowne Road (2tpd northbound-only), Blackrock (2tpd northbound-only), Dun Laoghaire Mallin, Bray Daly, Greystones, Kilcoole (2tpd northbound, 3tpd southbound), Wicklow, Rathdrum, Arklow, Gorey, Enniscorthy, Wexford and Rosslare Strand.
1tpd southbound only operates to Wexford.
Waterford – Limerick Waterford Plunkett to Limerick Junction 2tpd Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, Cahir, Tipperary
Limerick – Galway Limerick Colbert to Ennis 4tpd Sixmilebridge
Limerick Colbert to Galway Ceannt 5tpd Sixmilebridge, Ennis, Gort, Ardrahan, Craughwell, Athenry, Oranmore
Athenry to Galway Ceannt 2tpd Oranmore
Northern Commuter Dublin Connolly to Drogheda MacBride / Dundalk Clarke 1tph Howth Junction and Donaghmede (1tpd), Clongriffin (1tpd), Portmarnock (2tpd), Malahide, Donabate, Rush & Lusk, Skerries, Balbriggan, Gormanston, Laytown
some peak trains run to/from Dundalk Clarke, Dublin Pearse, Bray Daly, Gorey, Rosslare Harbour or Newry
South Eastern Commuter Dublin Connolly to Gorey 1tpd Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Lansdowne Road, Sydney Parade, Blackrock, Dun Laoghaire Mallin, Bray Daly, Greystones, Kilcoole (2tpd northbound, 3tpd southbound), Wicklow, Rathdrum and Arklow
South Western Commuter Grand Canal Dock to Hazelhatch and Celbridge 1tph Dublin Pearse, Tara Street, Dublin Connolly, Drumcondra, Park West and Cherry Orchard, Clondalkin/Fonthill and Adamstown
Dublin Heuston to Portlaoise 1tph Park West and Cherry Orchard, Clondalkin/Fonthill, Adamstown, Hazelhatch and Celbridge, Sallins and Naas, Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin and Portarlington
Western Commuter Dublin Connolly to Longford 2tph Drumcondra, Broombridge, Pelletstown, Ashtown, Navan Road Parkway, Castleknock, Coolmine, Clonsilla, Leixlip Confey, Leixlip Louisa Bridge, Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Mullingar and Edgeworthstown (some trains terminate at Maynooth)
Clonsilla to M3 Parkway 1tph Hansfield and Dunboyne
Cork Commuter Cork Kent to Midleton 1tph Littleisland, Glounthaune and Carrigtwohill
Cork Kent to Cobh 1tph Littleisland, Glounthaune, Fota, Carrigaloe and Rushbrooke
DART Howth to Bray Daly 3tph Sutton, Bayside, Howth Junction & Donaghmede, Kilbarrack, Raheny, Harmonstown, Killester, Clontarf Road, Dublin Connolly, Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Grand Canal Dock, Lansdowne Road, Sandymount, Sydney Parade, Booterstown, Blackrock, Seapoint, Salthill & Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire Mallin, Sandycove & Glasthule, Glenageary, Dalkey, Killiney and Shankill. 1tph extended to Greystones.
Malahide to Bray Daly 3tph Portmarnock, Clongriffin, Howth Junction & Donaghmede, Kilbarrack, Raheny, Harmonstown, Killester, Clontarf Road, Dublin Connolly, Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Grand Canal Dock, Lansdowne Road, Sandymount, Sydney Parade, Booterstown, Blackrock, Seapoint, Salthill & Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire Mallin, Sandycove & Glasthule, Glenagerary, Dalkey, Killiney and Shankill. 1tph extended to Greystones.

Freight servicesEdit

Iarnród Éireann also has responsibility for running freight services on the Irish network through its Freight Division – which recorded a tonnage decrease of 19.2% in 2019,[1] and as of 2020, there are 3 freight flows running throughout the country. This operates both Railfreight trains and a network of road haulage through various distribution nodes throughout the country. Iarnród Éireann Freight is subdivided into three sections:

  • Bulk Freight – specialises in operating full trainloads of freight, usually bulk movements of single products such as cement, mineral ore or timber.
  • Intermodal – container trains, currently operated between Waterford Port and Ballina and Dublin Port and Ballina.
  • Navigator – the freight forwarding division, particularly associated with the transport of automotive stock parts.

Operational detailsEdit

The Dublin-Belfast Enterprise, which is jointly operated by IE/NIR, seen at Connolly Station awaiting its next departure to Belfast

The Enterprise route (Dublin to Belfast) is well regarded. However, it is only double track and serves both local and intermediate Commuter as well as InterCity traffic. Hence any delay has knock-on effects. Also, there is limited platform availability at Connolly Station in Dublin. There was also a persistent problem with engine overloading, as Enterprise locomotives also supplied coach power. However, since September 2012, additional power is provided by separate Mark 3 generator vans.[citation needed]

The Cork-Dublin route was formerly the "premier line" of the Great Southern and Western Railway, one of the biggest pre-CIÉ operators. Rolling stock on this route consists of Mark 4 trains, which were built in Spain, complete with DVTs for faster turn-around. 22000 Class DMUs built in South Korea came into service from early 2007 replacing older coaching stock on most other InterCity routes. These 183 carriages are described by the company as the "Greenest diesel trains in Europe".[8]

The former Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD had announced that an additional 51 railcars had been ordered for the company for a planned introduction on services between Dublin, Louth, and Meath. They were placed into service in 2011/2012 but this plan was badly affected by the recession with 21 surpluses to requirements at the end of 2012.[4]

The maximum speed of InterCity trains on the IÉ rail network is 160 km/h (100 mph).

Westport Railway Station

Since 2019, Irish Rail has been trying to recruit more female drivers.[9]

1916 station renamingEdit

IÉ 2750 Class DMU (2753) at Inchicore Works

Although the majority of Iarnród Éireann's stations are simply named after the towns they serve, a number of stations in major towns and cities were renamed after leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, on its 50th Anniversary in 1966:[10]

Network CateringEdit

IÉ's Network Catering unit used to provide a trolley service of food and drink, a snack car and (on some routes) a restaurant service. It also operated a restaurant at Dún Laoghaire.[citation needed] According to Iarnród Éireann's annual report, the unit lost €297,000 in 2004.[11] In 2006, Iarnród Éireann outsourced the catering on the Dublin-Belfast service to Corporate Catering Ltd,[12] and all InterCity services were taken over by Rail Gourmet in March 2007.[13] Rail Gourmet later[when?] withdrew from the contract and no longer provides catering for any Irish Rail services.[citation needed]

Drumcondra Station

Rolling stockEdit

The Company has a fleet size consisting of 547 carriages (excluding the Enterprise service):

  • InterCity services have a fleet of 265 carriages.
  • Commuter services have a fleet of 148 carriages.
  • DART services have a fleet of 134 carriages.
  • Dublin-Belfast Enterprise has a fleet of 28 carriages.

InterCity and Enterprise fleetEdit


Locomotive fleetEdit



Commuter fleetEdit

An Iarnród Éireann 29000 Class DMU (29409) at Dublin Connolly




DART fleetEdit

IÉ 8300 Class at Dún Laoghaire




Future fleetEdit

IÉ's increasing fleet usage has led to requirements being made for the procurement of additional vehicles. DART services are running with all trains formed of 4–8 cars, while 54 sets of 63 fleet of ICRs are committed to services with 56 required on Friday. To this end, IÉ plans to purchase a significant number of new ICR vehicles – an initial purchase of 41 will be made for delivery in 2021, comprising three new trains, with the remainder planned as intermediate vehicles to lengthen existing units. The deal for the new vehicles is intended to include options for up to 40 further vehicles.[17] There are also plans for a total replacement of the existing DART fleet, which will be combined with extensions to the DART network. The framework for the DART fleet is planned for up to 600 vehicles formed into four-car and eight-car sets, split into both pure EMU and BEMU trains.[17] For immediate fleet capacity increases, IÉ planned refurbishment of its 2700 Class DMUs, which was subsequently cancelled. Instead, IÉ is discussing the possibility of sourcing surplus DMUs from the British network, with Class 170s and Class 185s available.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Iarnród Éireann. "Iarnród Éireann Annual Report 2019" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  2. ^ McCrave, Conor (8 January 2020). "'Strong growth' for public transport sector as passenger numbers increased 9% last year". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  3. ^ Sources:
  4. ^ a b Reilly, Jerome (3 March 2013). "Irish Rail defends new logo cost". Irish Independent. Dublin. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Limerick to Galway rail line reopened". RTÉ News. 29 March 2010. Archived from the original on 16 January 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  7. ^ McCárthaigh, Seán (2 January 2012). "Iarnród Éireann may close rail service amid falling demand". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012.
  8. ^ "National and Commuter Fleet Investment". Iarnród Éireann. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019.
  9. ^ Burns, Sarah (2 January 2019). "Irish Rail recruiting 100 drivers over next four years". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  10. ^ Duffy, Rónán (30 April 2016). "The 15 Irish railway stations named after the executed 1916 leaders". TheJournal.ie. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Annual Report and Financial Statements 2004" (PDF). Iarnród Éireann. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Annual Report and Financial Statements 2006" (PDF). Iarnród Éireann. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Our Companies". Rail Gourmet. Archived from the original on 14 June 2013.
  14. ^ "InterCity". Iarnród Éireann. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Iarnród Éireann Commuter Fleet Information". Iarnród Éireann. Archived from the original on 28 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Iarnród Éireann DART Fleet Information". Iarnród Éireann. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018.
  17. ^ a b c Pritchard, Robert (February 2019). "Current and Future Fleet Development on Irish Rail". Today's Railways. Platform 5.

External linksEdit