Plans for hourly Belfast-Dublin train

Published Tuesday, 18 February 2014
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Plans for hourly Enterprise train services linking Belfast to Dublin within 90 minutes are under consideration.

Plans for hourly Belfast-Dublin train
The Enterprise train, which travels from Central Station to Connolly Station. (© UTV)

A report on future investment in the flagship cross-border rail service during the next 20 years is due to be published soon.

Northern Ireland operator Translink is making progress on track upgrades, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said.

"The objective of this package would be to deliver a 90-minute journey time and hourly frequency on the Enterprise service," he said.

Trains on the service are jointly operated by Translink and Iarnród Éireann, taking passengers to and from Central Station in Belfast and Connolly Station, Dublin.

The cross-border link was launched by government ministers from Dublin and Belfast in 1997.

At present, connections between Belfast and Dublin can take more than two hours.

A consultation paper released by Mr Kennedy's department last year on the future of the line revealed that the number of passengers using the service between Belfast and Dublin has dropped by 22% over the past decade.

That was blamed on factors including recent economic conditions, recent road infrastructure improvements and loss of passengers due to the Malahide Bridge collapse.

In 2012-13, Enterprise saw passenger growth of over a tenth, with discounted online fares and benefits such as free on board wifi continuing to prove extremely popular with customers, a Translink spokeswoman has said.

Mr Kennedy told SDLP Northern Ireland Assembly member John Dallat: "Translink and Iarnrod Eireann are liaising in order to take forward a major overhaul of the existing Enterprise trains."

He expressed confidence that the required £12m funding will be secured from the EU and other sources.

"When this project is complete it is expected that there will be considerable improvement to the reliability of the service as well as to the aesthetics of the trains," the minister added.

A separate project, with expected costs of £1.2m, to carry out critical safety work to the trains is under way and is expected to be completed next year.

Translink is considering future upgrades of the track on the Belfast to Dublin line and progress is being made on efforts to upgrade the section between Knockmore and Lurgan in Co Armagh.

Last week, it was revealed that the Enterprise service is set to get a major multi-million pound upgrade.

Around £12m is to be spent refurbishing the four trains with new interiors, better access and a new booking system in order to improve the overall service.

The overhaul, funded by cash originally intended for the Narrow Water bridge project, is expected to begin later this year.

It is hoped the project will allow the train service to continue for the next 10 years.

© UTV News
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8 Comments
grace in belfast wrote (60 days ago):
If they stop charging double what the bus costs then maybe people would consider it
john in Glenavy wrote (61 days ago):
I don't understand why the line going through Crumlin/Glenavy was closed when the population has boomed. So many people are forced to comute by car to travel into Belfast rather than by train and not a single local politician has raised this issue.
Regular commuter in Belfast wrote (61 days ago):
The service is a total embarrassment - when you treat yourself and buy 1st plus tickets you have no idea weather or not you'll actually get sitting in first plus because the train is always being substituted by standard rolling stock. Similarly, some of their staff need some customer care training - We were recently left standing in the catering car because the first plus seats which we had booked had been somehow magically allocated to other passengers - thankfully a cleaning lady sorted it out for us rather than the ignorant Irish Rail conductor who didn't want to know. It needs a dedicated high speed line direct to Dublin and new engines and cars - not one where they patch the engines so that they'll last another wee while. As someone else said, this is 2014 and the present service is like something from 1974.
peter in belfast wrote (61 days ago):
My business friends dont use the Enterprise service due to its reliability-perceived or otherwise.Some of the problems are not the railways fault ie the line being a mecca for Dissidents,where one phonecall is a guarantee of their perverted satisfaction,others are more deep seated and stretch back to the one off nature and complexity of the original equipment ordered. Theres also an issue with journey times;these could be substantially reduced by making the train non-stop(certainly at peak times)as large numbers at both Dundalk/Drogheda use it as a commuter service to/from Dublin. Regrettably I cant see the line being 'juiced' Belfast-Dundalk to link up with the wires to Dublin which of course could be extended to Bangor in the first instance.Regrettably the UK has proved singularly unable or unwilling to harness EEC funds/grants/whatever in the manner which the South has done so effectively.
Paul in Portadown wrote (61 days ago):
It's not that simple really. There are frequent, regular (and very popular) commuter trains from Portadown to Belfast, and from Malahide to Dublin, that use the same lines. Theres no point having high speed trains that sit behind a train stopping at Lisburn, Moira and Lurgan, for example.
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