Ireland - General Information
Republic of Ireland
National Railway System
Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) / Irish rail
National Railway Operator
Iarnród Éireann Railway Undertaking (IÉ-RU).
English is used for most purposes, but the Irish Constitution provides that the Irish Language (also known as Erse) is the first official language. Although Irish is not widely spoken, except in some rural areas, official notices and publications are usually bi-lingual. Public institutions, including the railway, use their Irish name in preference to the English version. Passenger information systems at stations and on trains normally show or announce information in Irish, before doing so in English.
numeric 60; alpha IRL.
Find Train Times and Buy Tickets
IÉ resumed publication of printed timetable leaflets for public use from November 2016. Unfortunately, not all routes are covered (for example, there is no printed timetable for DART) and the leaflets are notoriously difficult to obtain, other than at Dublin Connolly station.
Get Live Travel Updates then select the station
- S.K. Baker's "Rail Atlas of Great Britain & Ireland", which is widely available in the UK, shows Irish Railways at 1:1,070,000.
- A volume of detailed layout plans for the whole of Ireland is published by TrackMaps.
- European Railway Atlas (All-Europe Edition) by M.G. Ball.
- European Railway Atlas (Regional Series - Britain and Ireland) by M.G. Ball.
- An historical compilation - "Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of the Railway of Ireland" (1997) - is now out of print, but worth seeking in second hand bookshops.
- Excellent live maps showing the whereabouts of every DART, InterCity and Commuter train are available on the Irish RailTimetables page.
- Thorsten Büker's British Isles and Ireland Map. Although this remains on-line, the Büker maps are no longer being maintained. Last updated May 2011.
Visitors to Dublin seeking a "day ticket" (or multi-day) facility will find the Leap Card advantageous, as it covers IÉ, Luas and Dublin Buses (including the Airlink Express services between the Airport and city centre).
On 25 March 2013 Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) was restructured into two separate business divisions - Iarnród Éireann Infrastructure Manager (IÉ-IM) and Iarnród Éireann Railway Undertaking (IÉ-RU). IÉ-IM does not have a separate website.
1600 mm (5 feet 3 inches).
The LUAS tram lines in Dublin are 1435 mm (4 feet 8 1/2 inches).
Bord na Mona and Tourist Lines are mainly 914 mm (3 feet).
1500 V dc (DART suburban system in Dublin).
750 V dc LUAS tramway in Dublin.
Rule of the road
Distances are available in Appendix 1 of the Network Statement above. More detailed distances for the former constituent railways are available on the Signalling Record Society website.
- Dublin & South Eastern
- Fishguard & Rosslare
- Great Northern
- Great Southern & Western plus some branches
- Midland Great Western
Other passenger railways
- Cavan & Leitrim Railway: this has not run since 2014 but a static museum remains at Dromod
- Fintown Railway
- Listowel Lartigue Monorail
- Tralee & Blennerville Steam Railway: this has not run since 2009 but track remains in situ
- Waterford & Suir Valley Railway
- West Clare Railway: this does not appear to run regular service
Some of the more remote lines may be irregular in operation so it is as well to enquire about dates and times of operation before visiting. There are other shorter and miniature lines.
A modern Light Rapid Transit System - LUAS (Irish for "speed") - operates in Dublin. This is a street-running tram in the city centre, but mostly uses reserved track elsewhere. It includes sections of former main line railway from Broadstone and Harcourt Street stations.
Recent and future changes
The Irish railway system was allowed to deteriorate for many years, but extensive upgrading and modernisation has been carried out on the majority of the passenger system and there have been extensive purchases of new rolling stock (mostly multiple units). The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) electrified suburban system now extends south to Greystones and north to Malahide.
Line openings and reopenings - passenger
- LUAS Green Line was extended northwards from St.Stephen's Green to Broombridge on 9 December 2017.
- A weekday commuter service between Kildare and Grand Canal Dock - using the re-opened link between Islandbridge Junction (near Heuston) and Glasnevin Junction - commenced in November 2016.
- Part of the former line from Clonsilla to Navan re-opened to M3 Parkway station in September 2010.
- A direct link between Limerick and Galway was restored when the section between Ennis and Athenry reopened in March 2010.
- A section of the former Youghal branch line reopened between Glounthaune (formerly Cobh Junction) and Midleton in July 2009.
- A commuter line from Glasnevin Jn to Docklands, in Dublin, opened in March 2007.
However, other mooted (some much publicised) line re-openings are now cancelled.
In the private sector, the 3 foot gauge Waterford & Suir Valley Railway was extended by 2km in July 2010.
The transversal lines, Limerick Jn - Waterford; [Limerick - ] Killonan Jn - Roscrea - Ballybrophy, and Ennis - Athenry, are under threat, while even the economics of services on the line south of Gorey have been called into question. These have all been the subject of review by the National Transport Authority (the government appointed body responsible for subvention of loss making passenger services) in their 2016 Rail Review of which the report and consultation documents (available from that link) provide interesting background information.
The outgoing IÉ Chief Executive Officer said in 2018: "Two or three of our routes may be better served by alternative public transport. Each passenger journey on the Nenagh branch now consumes EUR850 of public subsidy. Limerick Junction - Waterford, the Western Rail Corridor (Ennis - Athenry) and Wexford - Rosslare have very little revenue."
IÉ withdrew the vestigial Rosslare Strand - Waterford passenger service in September 2010 (there is no freight service over the line which remains in situ but in unusable condition).
A special review of Government expenditure published in July 2009 suggested examination of closure (apparently completely) of the following lines: Limerick Jn - Waterford (excl.) - Rosslare Strand; [Limerick - ] Killonan Jn - Ballybrophy; Manulla Jn - Ballina, and that no further development should take place of Western Rail Corridor beyond the [Limerick - ] Ennis - Athenry [ - Galway] section mentioned above.
The line at Rosslare Europort was cut back in April 2008 - trains now use a very basic platform inconveniently located for the ferry terminal.
IÉ's freight operations are now limited. Bord na Móna was once one of the largest narrow gauge freight operations in Europe, moving peat (turf) traffic to power stations (this has now ceased apart from its own Edenderry power station which is to close in 2023) and other extractive movements which are now being replaced by bog restoration/reclamation work.
In addition to universal "Standard" class, First class is available on principal trains between Dublin and Cork, plus a few to and from Tralee and Limerick. "Premium" class (partner NIRailways call it "First plus") is available on principal trains on the international route between Dublin and Belfast.
There are no overnight services in Ireland.