Dublin–Cork railway line

Dublin to Cork line

Type Commuter rail, Inter-city rail
Heavy rail
System Iarnród Éireann
Status Operational
Locale Ireland
Termini Dublin Heuston
Cork Kent
Stations 18
Opened 1844
Operator(s) Iarnród Éireann
Rolling stock 22000 Class (Commuter)
Mark 4 (InterCity)
Line length 266 km
Number of tracks Double track
Track gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Irish gauge
Electrification Not electrified (Full electrification expected by 2030)
Route map

The Dublin–Cork main line is the main InterCity railway route in Ireland between Dublin Heuston and Cork Kent.


It is one of the longest in Ireland at 266 km. The line is utilised by both InterCity and Commuter services. Services to Waterford branch off at Cherryville Junction, after Kildare, and to Westport and Galway after Portarlington. Although there are some direct services to Limerick, most services require a change at either Limerick Junction or Ballybrophy traveling onward via the Limerick-Ballybrophy railway line. Services to Tralee via Killarney and Farranfore (for Kerry Airport) run from Mallow. Commuter services run on both the South Western Commuter line between Dublin and Kildare or Portlaoise, and Cork Commuter line between Mallow and Cobh.

Iarnród Éireann, the Irish state railway company, has invested heavily in improving the infrastructure and rolling stock. It has had both its track and signalling upgraded in the last few years thanks to funding from the government's National Development Plan - beginning in 1977, the line was upgraded to continuous welded rail, while the introduction of Centralised Traffic Control means that signalling is controlled from a single location at Dublin Connolly station.

In 2006, the first of 67 new Mark 4 coaches were introduced on the route as part of a €117 million upgrade of rolling stock. These seven new 8-car sets provide an hourly service frequency between Dublin and Cork.[1]

Although Dublin Heuston is the terminus, the line connects to Dublin Connolly via the Phoenix Park Tunnel. This route is primarily used for freight services and rolling stock movements to the main Iarnród Éireann works at Inchicore, just south of Heuston. However, it is occasionally used for special passenger services to Dublin Connolly, usually for Gaelic games events at Croke Park.


Built by the Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&WR), it connects the largest and second largest cities in the country. It connects with lines to other destinations, including Galway, Waterford, Westport, Limerick and Tralee. Construction began in 1844, when the GS&WR built a line from Kingsbridge Station (now Heuston Station, Dublin) to Cashel in County Tipperary, later extended to Cork. Amalgamations between the GS&WR and other smaller railway companies in the south led to the line gaining connections to other population centres. A branch from Portarlington to Athlone was built to connect with the Midland Great Western Railway to Galway.


There are 14 daily services between Cork Kent - Dublin Heuston - Cork Kent (Monday - Saturday) Departing hourly on the hour. There are 13 daily services between Dublin Heuston - Cork Kent - Cork Kent (Monday - Saturday) Departing hourly on the half-hour (plus other early morning services Monday to Friday) [2]

On Sundays there are ten services between Cork Kent - Dublin Heuston - Cork Kent. In 2015, plans were announced for a morning non-stop Cork-Dublin service, to begin on 25 May 2015. This service will depart Cork Kent at 06:15 AM and arrive at Dublin Heuston in 2 hours 15 minutes, at 08:30 AM. This service has been specifically introduced for business meetings.[3]

Upgrading project

The line has been progressively upgraded from the late 2000s onward, with work focusing on the removal of speed restrictions, and separation of main line traffic from commuter trains near Dublin. The objective is to increase the sections of line capable of 160 km/h (99 mph) operation and thus provide faster services to compete with the M8 motorway. Ultimately it is intended for trains to run non-stop from Cork to Dublin in two hours or less. This has resulted in major disruption and cancellations on many weekends and speed restrictions affecting the punctuality of trains. The following is a summary of the main works involved:

In September 2011, Iarnród Éireann received government funding of €1 million to continue the improvements on the Dublin – Portarlington section of this line later in 2011. In September 2011, Iarnród Éireann announced a €175 million major investment programme, designed to further accelerate upgrading works on Intercity Routes, In particular the Dublin - Cork line. From 2012 upgrading will intensify to include the following:

In 2015 further upgrade plans were announced. Iarnród Éireann chief executive David Franks outlined how ballast was to be renewed between Hazlehatch and Kildare, which was to allow 160 km/h (100 mph) running on the 80 km (50 mi) long stretch. Further upgrades such as the removal of level crossings and bridge replacements are expected to bring journey times from Cork to Dublin to under 2 hours.[4]

The line is expected to be fully electrified by 2030.

See also


  1. http://www.irishrail.ie/index.jsp?p=123&n=209 Irish Rail Intercity Fleet
  2. http://www.irishrail.ie/index.jsp?p=119&n=147 Latest Irish Rail Printable Timetables
  3. Melia, Paul (28 January 2015). "Rail upgrade will slash 15 minutes off Dublin-Cork trip". The Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent Mews and Media. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  4. Melia, Paul (28 January 2015). "Rail upgrade will slash 15 minutes off Dublin-Cork trip". The Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent Mews and Media. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
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