Enterprise (train service)
|Main station(s):||Dublin Connolly,
|Other station(s):||Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry, Portadown, Lurgan (Sunday morning only), Lisburn|
|Fleet size:||8 201 Class locomotives
28 De Dietrich coaches
4 Mark 3 generator vans
|Stations called at:||8|
|National Rail abbreviation:||N/A: Not part of National Rail|
|Parent company:||Iarnród Éireann/
Northern Ireland Railways
|Enterprise route map|
Enterprise is the name of the cross-border inter-city train service between Dublin Connolly in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast Central in Northern Ireland and is jointly operated by Iarnród Éireann (IE) and NI Railways (NIR).
The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) (GNR(I)) introduced the service as the "Enterprise Express" on 11 August 1947 in an attempt to compete with air and road transport which were challenging the railways. In particular, business travel was and is seen[by whom?] 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 advance booking was available. Apparently[weasel words] the name of the train comes from "the enterprising approach" that the GNR(I) took to make journeys more convenient for passengers despite the requirement for customs checks. The initial service ran between Belfast Great Victoria Street station and Dublin Amiens Street station, which was renamed Dublin Connolly in 1966.
In October 1950 the service was extended beyond Dublin to Kent Station in Cork. This proved unsuccessful and the Cork link ceased in September 1953 when the governments of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland nationalised the GNR as the Great Northern Railway Board (GNRB). The Cork service's unpopularity may also have been due to the six and a half hour journey time.
On 1 October 1958 the GNRB was dissolved and its assets and liabilities were split between Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) and the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) — the predecessors of the current operators, Iarnród Éireann (IE) and Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) respectively. Following the completion of the Belfast Central Line Project, the Belfast terminal moved to the new Belfast Central station in April 1976.
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.
Timetable times vary between 1 hour 53 minutes (with one intermediate stop) and a more typical 2 hours 15 minutes (with four intermediate stops), an average speed of 97 and 81 km/h (60 and 50 mph) respectively.
The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland runs a Steam Enterprise in the summer months to exchange its Dublin-based engine with its Whitehead-based engine.
Autumn 2009 Disruption 
On 21 August 2009 20 m (22 yd) of the Broadmeadow estuary viaduct, north of Malahide, collapsed, causing serious disruptions to Northern Commuter and Enterprise services. During the disruption the Enterprise service operated between Belfast Central and Drogheda, with buses connecting Drogheda with Dublin Connolly. The line across the estuary reopened on 16 November with full services resumed between Dublin Connolly and Belfast Central.
Passengers can travel First Class ("First+") or Second Class ("Enterprise Class"). Additional to a trolley service there is a Dining Car ("Café Bar") serving food and drink. First+ offers a full three course menu serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. First+ extras also include air conditioning, tinted windows, adjustable blinds and individual reading lamps.
Rolling stock 
Current fleet 
Each Push-pull trainset consists of seven 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, two from each operator, were allocated to Enterprise. The coaches were manufactured by De Dietrich Ferroviaire, while the locomotives are from GM-EMD; ownership of the rolling stock is jointly shared between both operators, however coach maintenance is provided by NIR and the locomotives are maintained by IE. The coaching stock is based on the Class 373 EMU stock used by Eurostar, with the interiors identical. However, unlike the EMU stock, which is articulated and permanently coupled, the stock used by Enterprise is ordinary coaching stock.
The service has suffered from a lack of reliability of the locomotives, which provide head end power to the train; unlike IÉ's Dublin-Cork services, which operate with the locomotive operating with a generator control car that provides power for lighting and heating the train, the Enterprise fleet is equipped with an ordinary control car, which has no power generating capability. This means that the locomotive has to provide all the power for the train, both motive and generating. Extended operation in this mode causes damage, so four further locomotives were allocated to Enterprise from the central IÉ fleet. However, this still required locomotives to be used in HEP mode. So, in May 2009, the Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland requested an estimate for the provision of generator functions for the existing rolling stock so that head-end power mode would no longer be needed.
On 10th September 2012 a modified MKIII Generator van, former 7604, was introduced on the service.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Routes operated||Built|
|201 Class||diesel locomotive||102||164||8||Dublin - Belfast||1994–1995|
|De Dietrich stock||Passenger Rolling stock||90||145||28||Dublin - Belfast||1996|
|Mark 3||Generator rolling stock||100||160||4||Dublin - Belfast||1980
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 six each of their newest DMUs (C3K, C4K, 22000, and 29000 ) 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 125 mph (200 km/h) 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. 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 eventual plans for its Dublin-Cork services. This will remove the problems suffered by the 201 Class locomotives when using head-end power mode.
Future developments 
Recent press reports have stated that NIR & IE plan to introduce a new hourly service. 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. 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. However, the introduction of an hourly timetable remains an ambition for NIR and IÉ; the surplus of rolling stock held by IÉ following the introduction of the 22000 Class DMUs could potentially be used to enhance the frequency of Enterprise's service. The line south of the border was upgraded to continuous welded rail in the 1990s, while NIR are in the process of making track improvements to allow for an increase in speed. Enterprise would require a minimum of seven complete trains to operate an hourly service - IÉ has a significant number of stored Mark 3 rolling stock available, of which five sets are push-pull capable, while NIR has its own "Gatwick" set that has also recently been converted to push-pull operation. In addition, the introduction of the 22000 Class has led to a surplus of locomotives that could also be utilised to meet this requirement. However, the major issue remains the capacity at Dublin Connolly, which remains stretched. The transfer of Commuter services to Docklands, together with the opening of the Interconnector, should go some way to alleviating the capacity issues. Plans have also been mooted to transfer Enterprise's northern terminus from Belfast Central to Belfast Great Victoria Street, which is more centrally located and is co-located with Europa Buscentre, thus providing an integrated rail/bus journey to all parts of the island.
Currently, the Enterprise is undergoing a face-lift with the carriages being resprayed in silver 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.
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 of new investment to bring it up to an acceptable standard. Its average speed of 43 mph (69 km/h) 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.
- Rowledge, J.W.P. (1995). Ireland. A Regional History of Railways XVI. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-63-X.
- NIR Enterprise timetable, effective 01/0/07
- IRRS Journal 170
- IRRS Journal 157
- Irish Times , 15/09/07
- Dundalk Democrat, 15/08/07
- Dundalk Democrat, 19/09/07
- Hourly train service to Dublin is now on track - Belfast Telegraph, 03/03/08
- Top train 'needs £500m overhaul'
- Translink Capital Expenditure Plans - Translink
- Flanagan, Colm (2010). "Optimism in Northern Ireland". Modern Railways 67 (737): 60–64.
- Belfast/Dublin rail link 'needs a radical upgrade' - Belfast Telegraph, 29/11/07
- Malachi O'Doherty: Free travel from Belfast to Dublin? Belfast Telegraph 23/5/08