I really wanted to see Titanic Belfast, the largest Titanic exhibition and museum in the world, but to get there, the most convenient way was to take the train from Dublin to Belfast. From there, it was about a 30 minute walk to the museum.
From Dublin, Iarnród Éireann (or Irish Rail), operates trains to Belfast every few hours. On weekends, the schedule becomes more limited. The train is scheduled to operate on their “Enterprise” service, which is essentially a regional train with limit stops.
Dublin Connolly station is nothing to write home about at all – there’s a limited waiting area, a small cafe, and a ticket counter, but other than that, there’s nothing else there, and it certainly doesn’t compare to the other major train stations in Europe or in the US. The station itself is situated outside of the touristy parts of the city, so it’s either a decent walk to get there, or, better yet, a convenient taxi ride.
Onboard the train, there was a typical European train layout of 4 seats surrounding a table, with the same setup on the other side of the aisle. In the rear of each car there were several rear and forward facing two seats on both sides, so if you’re a single traveler, these may be a good place to sit. Otherwise, if you sit at a table, you’re bound to have others join you, since even the Saturday morning departure I was on was fairly filled.
The seats on this train do not recline, which is a major issue – I’d go so far as to call the seats uncomfortable, simply because you’re sitting upright the entire time. For the two hour train ride, I’d expect a little more comfort. That said, having a hard, fixed table up front was helpful, since I could watch movies on my iPhone by setting down up front.
During the journey, a trolley of pre-packaged food and drinks is offered by an attendant, however as you can expect, these items are all over-priced. There’s a cafe car towards the end of the train in the first class section, though the same items are generally offered via the cart that’s brought throughout the train.
The train only makes a few stops and each are announced over the loudspeaker, though’ll you’ll want to pay attention clearly since some of the stations are no more than a 30 seconds stop. Upon arrival in Belfast, Northern Ireland, there is no immigration checks or additional security, even though you’re crossing into a separate country.
Other than the train, there is a cheaper bus, but with that, you’ll risk traffic and a longer ride with additional stops. If I were to do this trip again, I’d take the train again.
Have you ever traveled on Irish Rail out of Dublin?
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The seats on this train are generally uncomfortable because they do not recline, though the fixed table is appreciated.
The train was generally clean, though there was still trash and dirt visible in some areas, as is usually the case on regional trains such as this.
Convenience and Location
While the bus to Belfast stops more centrally in downtown Dublin, I still find the train to be convenient, leaving you off at Belfast Central, just on the outskirts of the touristy sections of the city.