Enterprise (train)

Enterprise (train)

Infobox Rail companies
logo_filename=Enterprise (train service).pngwidthpx=100px
regions=Dublin Connolly,
Belfast Central
secregions=Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry,
Portadown, Lurgan (Sunday morning only), Lisburn (Sunday morning only)
fleet=6 201 Class locomotives
28 De Dietrich coaches
abbr=N/A: Not part of National Rail
parent_company=Iarnród Éireann/
Northern Ireland Railways

Enterprise is the name of the cross-border inter-city train service between Dublin Connolly and Belfast Central in Ireland and is jointly operated by Iarnród Éireann (IE) and NI Railways (NIR).


The service was introduced as the "Enterprise Express" on August 11 1947 by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) (GNR (I)) in an attempt to compete with air and road transport which were challenging the railways. In particular, business travel was and is seen as an important market. Customs checks were limited to the Belfast and Dublin terminals in order to reduce journey times by ensuring that journeys were non-stop, and advanced booking was available. The service proved a success and in October 1950 was extended beyond Dublin to Cork.

However this proved unsuccessful and the Cork link ceased in September 1953 when the Great Northern Railway Board (GNRB), a joint venture between the Dublin and Belfast governments, took over the services of the GNR (I). Its unpopularity may also have been due to the six and a half hour journey time. [A Regional History of Railways (Volume XVI, Ireland), J.W.P. Rowledge, 1995, ISBN 0-906899-63-X]

On October 1 1958 the GNRB was dissolved and its assets and liabilities were split between Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE) and the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) — the predecessors of the current operators, Iarnród Éireann (IE) and Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) respectively.

The service was upgraded in September 1997 with a new timetable and new coaching stock from French train makers De Dietrich Ferroviaire (now Alstom DDF). At this point, the service, which had operated under either the IÉ or NIR brands, was branded separately as Enterprise.

The service has suffered disruption over the years, particularly during the Troubles, when it was regularly halted by bomb threats. These became so frequent and caused such considerable disruption to the service that a campaigning group, the Peace Train Organisation was formed in 1989. Since the Northern Ireland peace process, however, such disruption has diminished. Renewed investment in recent years has seen the line upgraded to continuously welded track capable of 145 km/h (90 mph) running along the southern part of the route, as part of Iarnród Éireann's rail network upgrades. However, these speeds are not reached on the northern part of the route.Fact|date=February 2007

Timetable times vary between 1-hour 53-minutes (with one intermediate stop) and a more typical 2-hours 15-minutes (with four intermediate stops) [ [http://www.nir.co.uk/present/ENT_5_O.asp NIR Enterprise timetable, effective 01/0/07] ] , an average speed of 97 and 81 km/h (60 and 50 mph) respectively.

Rolling Stock

Current fleet

Each Push-pull trainset consists of eight coaches and a 201 Class locomotive. Originally, the 28 coaches were delivered as four sets of seven, but entered service as three sets of eight, while a total of four locomotives were allocated to Enterprise. The coaches were manufactured by De Dietrich Ferroviaire, while the locomotives are from GM-EMD; ownership of the locomotives and rolling stock is jointly shared between both operators, however coach maintenance is provided by NIR and the locomotives are maintained by IE. The service has had reliability issues with the locomotives, which provides head end power to the train. As a consequence, two further locomotives were allocated to Enterprise from the central IÉ fleet. The coaching stock is based on the Class 373 EMU stock used by Eurostar. However, unlike the EMU stock, which is articulated and permanently coupled, the stock used by Enterprise is ordinary coaching stock.

In the event that an Enterprise set is unavailable, either NIR's "Gatwick" stock rake of coaches or an IÉ set can be used on the service. Additionally, both NIR and IÉ have equipped a number of their newest DMUs (C3K and 22000) to each other's specifications so they may also be used on this route in the event of a breakdown.

Future fleet

Both Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Railways have for some time maintained an ambition to introduce hourly services between Dublin and Belfast. However, it would be necessary to procure new, faster rolling stock in order to achieve the required improvements in frequency and speed. In 2005, they investigated the possibility of procuring new rolling stock when seven 125mph capable Class 222 DEMUs built for the British network became available for use as one of the possible options, which also included the procurement of additional 22000 Class DMUs as part of IÉ's order. [ [http://www.irrs.ie/Journal%20157/157%20News%20NIR.htm IRRS Journal 157] ] What is recognised is that new rolling stock would most likely be a type of multiple unit rather than locomotive pulled, similar to IÉ's plans for its Dublin-Cork services. This will remove the problems suffered by the 201 Class locomotives when using head-end power mode.

Advertising and promotion

Translink has regularly promoted the Enterprise service with a '2 for 1' offer to readers of the Northern Ireland editions of the Daily and Sunday Mirrors. In January 2006, this promotion was undertaken in conjunction with a comprehensive billboard advertising campaign in Belfast, Newry and Portadown railway stations. The slogan, "Depressurise, Capitalise, Economise, Socialise...Go Enterprise; premier rail travel to Dublin," was used to encourage wide groups of customers to use the Enterprise.Fact|date=February 2007 Discounted Internet booking for the service is also periodically offered by Translink.

Future developments

Recent press reports have stated that NIR & IE plan to introduce a new hourly service. [ [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2007/0915/1189076434202.html Irish Times , 15/09/07] ] [ [http://www.dundalktoday.com/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=3417&ArticleID=3114495 Dundalk Democrat, 15/08/07] ] [ [http://www.dundalktoday.com/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=3417&ArticleID=3215714 Dundalk Democrat, 19/09/07] ] This was reiterated in a statement by Conor Murphy, the Northern Ireland Minister for Regional Development, who stated that the two companies had made a presentation to the North/South Ministerial Council in October 2007 putting forward the case for improvements in the frequency and speed of the service. [ [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3485053.ece Hourly train service to Dublin is now on track] - Belfast Telegraph, 03/03/08] Any improvements to the service would require significant investment in track and signalling, as well as new rolling stock. In April 2008, the Minister for Regional Development stated that the major improvements to the infrastructure and rolling stock required by Enterprise would total in the region of £500 million. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7325380.stm Top train 'needs £500m overhaul'] ]

Currently, the Enterprise is undergoing a face-lift with the carriages being resprayed in white with green colours, some of which can be seen at Translink's York Rd. Maintenance Depot.


In November 2007 the cross-border IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council, in a submission to the North/South Ministerial Council, stated that Enterprise was falling behind compared to the improvements of other international rail providers, with delays "often up to an hour" and serious reliability problems, combined with the uncompetitive journey time against making the journey by road. [ [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/article3207950.ece Belfast/Dublin rail link 'needs a radical upgrade'] - Belfast Telegraph, 29/11/07]

In fact, after years of saying the opposite, Northern Ireland Railways have recently admitted that this train is so frequently broken down that it is no longer fit for purpose and requires 500 million pounds of new investment to bring it up to an acceptable standard. Its average speed of 43mph makes it one of the slowest intercity connections in Western Europe. Given the much faster road connection to Dublin and the Enterprise's confirmed unreliability, combined with its infrequency, it has been running at a loss, as passengers switch to much cheaper and faster alternatives. [ [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/columnists/article3730593.ece Malachi O'Doherty: Free travel from Belfast to Dublin?] Belfast Telegraph 23/5/08]



External links

* [http://www.iarnrodeireann.ie/our_services/enterprise.asp Iarnród Éireann page on the Enterprise]
* [http://www.nir.co.uk/enterpriseservices.asp Northern Ireland Railways page on the Enterprise]

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