Iarnród Éireann

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Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail
IndustryRail transport
PredecessorCIÉ Railways Division (1945–1987)
Founded2 February 1987
HeadquartersConnolly Station, Dublin 1, D01 V6V6, Ireland
Area served
Key people
Jim Meade (Chief Executive)
Frank Allen (Chairman)
RevenueIncrease 264.8 million (2017)[1]
Increase €475.5 million (2017)[1]
Decrease €1.1 million (2017)[1]
OwnerGovernment of Ireland (100%)
Number of employees
3,803 (2017)
ParentCóras Iompair Éireann
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 2017, IÉ carried 45.5 million passengers,[2] up from 42.8 million in 2016.

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) corporate branding and logo. However, both languages remained part of the official company name ("Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail"). In 2013, new bilingual branding was introduced.[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 services[edit]

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 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]


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.


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[edit]

Iarnród Éireann also has responsibility for running freight services on the Irish network through its Freight Division – which recorded a tonnage decrease of 1% in 2017, and as of 2018 there are 2 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 train loads 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 details[edit]

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[edit]

IÉ 2750 Class DMU (2753) at Inchicore Works shortly before being scrapped

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[edit]

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 Rail Gourmet in March 2007.[10] Rail Gourmet later withdrew from the contract and no longer provide catering for any Irish Rail services.

Drumcondra Station

Rolling stock used by Iarnród Éireann[edit]

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 fleet[edit]


Freight service fleet[edit]



Commuter fleet[edit]

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




DART fleet[edit]

IÉ 8300 Class at Dún Laoghaire




 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Introduced 
 mph   km/h 
071 Class Diesel locomotive 90 145 18 Dublin-Navan freight services 1976
8100 Class (8300 Class) Dart-8306-00.jpg Electrical Multiple Unit 62 100 38 (formerly 40) Howth-Bray, Malahide-Greystones (DART Routes) 1983
Mark 3 Belfast Central (3) Generator van 100 160 4 Dublin-Belfast 1980
(Refurbished 2009)
2600 Class Fota 1.jpg Diesel multiple unit 70 110 16 (formerly 17) Cork Commuter Routes 1994
201 Class 209, Moira.JPG Diesel locomotive 100 160 32 Dublin-Cork, Dublin-Belfast 1994-1995
De Dietrich stock Belfast Central (1) Passenger coaches 90 145 28 Dublin-Belfast 1996
2800 Class Limerick 1.jpg Diesel multiple unit 75 120 8 Cork & Limerick Commuter Routes 2000
29000 Class Dublin 1.jpg Diesel multiple unit 75 120 29 Dublin-Rosslare, Dublin Commuter 2003-2005
Mark 4 IE MK4.JPG Passenger coaches 125 200 67 Dublin-Cork. 2006
IE DVT 1.JPG Driving Van Trailer (DVT)
22000 Class 22000 Class InterCity Train Ireland.jpg Diesel multiple unit 100 160 28 3-car, 25 4-car & 10 5-car sets Cork-Tralee, Dublin-Cork, Galway, Limerick, Rosslare, Sligo, Waterford, Westport 2007-2011

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Iarnród Éireann. "Iarnród Éireann Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  2. ^ Iarnród Éireann Annual Report 2017
  3. ^ Sources:
  4. ^ a b http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/irish-rail-defends-new-logo-cost-29105397.html
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  6. ^ http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/iarnrod-eireann-may-close-rail-service-amid-falling-demand-178779.html
  7. ^ http://www.irishrail.ie/about-us/fleet-investment
  8. ^ http://www.cie.ie/company-profile-(2)/heritage
  9. ^ Iarnród Éireann Annual Report 2004
  10. ^ http://www.railgourmet.com/page2/11/our-companies/
  11. ^ http://www.irishrail.ie/about-us/intercity-1 Iarnród Éireann InterCity Fleet details
  12. ^ http://www.irishrail.ie/about-us/commuter Iarnród Éireann Commuter Fleet details
  13. ^ http://www.irishrail.ie/about-us/dart DART Fleet details

External links[edit]