Iarnród Éireann

Iarnród Éireann - Irish Rail
Industry Rail transport
Predecessor CIÉ Railways Division (1945-1987)
Founded February 2, 1987 (1987-02-02)
Headquarters Connolly Station, Dublin 1, Ireland
Area served
Key people
David Franks (CEO)
Philip Gaffney (Chairman)
Revenue Increase 233.9 million (2015)[1]
Increase €330.3 million (2015)[1]
Decrease €7.7 million (2015)[1]
Owner Government of Ireland (100%)
Number of employees
3,796 (2015)
Parent Córas Iompair Éireann
Website www.irishrail.ie
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

Iarnród Éireann (Irish pronunciation: [ˈiəɾˠnˠɾˠoːdˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ]), also known as Irish Rail in English, 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 2015, IÉ carried 39.7 million passengers,[2] up from 37.8 million in 2014.

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 introduced the four rails IR logo. In 1994, the company brought the Irish form of its name to the fore, introducing the corporate branding and logo. (The Irish word for rail (ráil) was overlooked in favour of the word iarnród, which translates literally as iron road.) However, both languages remained part of the official company name ("Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail"). In 2013, new bi-lingual branding was introduced.[4]

Operationally, services are divided across four regional areas:


Passenger services

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


InterCity logo
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 although this is currently operated by Commuter railcars. 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 31 March 2010 from Limerick to Galway, as part of the Western Rail Corridor, a reopening of a long-closed line.

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.[6]


Commuter logo
A 29000 Class South-Eastern Commuter train approaching Bray

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.

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.


DART logo
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 most famous one being the 8100 class which still operate, now extensively refurbished.

A DART 8520 Class arriving at Connolly Station

Freight services

Iarnród Éireann also has responsibility for running freight services on the Irish network through its Freight Division – which recorded a tonnage increase of 2.3% in 2015, and as of 2016 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:

Operational details

The Enterprise logo
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.

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".[7]

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 surplus 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

Station names

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:[8]

Network Catering

IÉ's Network Catering unit provided 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. According to Iarnród Éireann's annual report,[9] the unit lost €270,000 in 2004. Early in 2006, Iarnród Éireann advertised for private catering contractors to take over the operation of its catering services. The service was taken over by RailGourmet in March 2007.[10]

Drumcondra Station

Rolling stock used by Iarnród Éireann

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

InterCity and Enterprise fleet


Commuter fleet

An Iarnród Éireann 29000 Class DMU (29009) at Dublin Connolly




DART fleet

IÉ 8100 Class at Dún Laoghaire




See also


External links

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