Taking the train: six stories from the Belfast to Dublin line
We asked regular passengers on the Enterprise commuter rail service just why they prefer to take the train
The first morning Enterprise leaves Belfast at 6.45am and arrives at 9am in Connolly Station in Dublin
The train is often described as a comfortable, relaxing travel option, allowing you to work, listen to music, catch up with a friend or sometimes make a new one. But what do regular customers think? We asked some frequent passengers on the Enterprise rail service, which runs between Belfast and Dublin, to tell us why they prefer taking the train.
‘A lot of people don’t give credit to the staff: they are great’
Kourosh Saadat, is a perfumier and business manager in Brown Thomas for a fragrance brand. He commutes to Dublin, back and forth, five days a week.
“Usually I’m up at around half five, six o'clock in the morning. The first train from Bangor is 6.07am and I will arrive in work for just about half nine, as long as there are no delays. I had three options facing me when I decided to commute every day – bus, car or the train. The train means I can do what I want to do and get what I need done. I can watch Netflix, I can sleep and I can do paperwork if I need to. The benefits are the sockets, so I can charge my phone if I need to, the table – I have space, I can put my legs out, I can relax – and the people. “A lot of people don’t give credit to the staff and it’s one of the things I like.
They are lovely. I know most of the train crew by name, they know me. I have Asperger’s and they accommodate me. For example, they always know where to find me with seats because on the way down I’ll always be in D8, on the way home G8. Sometimes if they notice that I’m maybe not quite right, they can maybe see it, they will upgrade me to first class because I can have my space, I can relax.
“The reason I travel by train is the ease of it all, a bus is traffic dependent, a train isn’t. Driving involves too much energy. A train is someone picking me up and dropping me off where I need to go with room and space and all the amenities which you could possibly need.”
‘You just relax on the train. I sort of take it as part of my weekend now’
May Andrews lives in Co Antrim and travels by train once a month to see her 93-year-old father Denis in Cork and batch cook his meals for the month ahead. “I travel by train for its convenience because I’m going to Cork.
My father is 93 so when I get there I do things to care for him. On the train I can sit, read, I can have my lunch, so to me, it takes the pain out of travel really. So I will arrive and get the Luas across to Heuston and get the Kerry train and get off at Rathmore and my brother will be there to collect me. Then I get home to Dad and I start cleaning and washing and doing stuff. I’ll go out tomorrow morning and get some food, make dinners and go out for dinner then with Daddy. I make about 20 meals. Tomorrow night we will pack it all up into the freezer and then on Sunday I will come back in the afternoon. With driving, by the time you get home you’re tired so I prefer the train.
“We also have carers for Dad, and they are my angels. He is well looked after, they are fabulous. I love being on the train for the conversation. A lot of people don’t speak anymore, sometimes it’s just nice to have a chat with another passenger. On a bus you don’t. On the train you can get up and walk around, go and get something to eat, there are toilets. You don’t feel penned in, you have space. I like that sometimes you can speak to somebody or you can do your own thing if you want. You just relax on the train. I sort of take it as part of my weekend now. It’s 'my time'. I love it.”
‘The best thing about the train is that it’s relaxing’
Dr Noel Purdy is director of Research and Scholarship at Stranmillis University College, Belfast. He travels every couple of months to Dublin for meetings.
“I’m going to Dublin today for a meeting for an organisation called SCoTENS which is a North-South teacher education body which was created in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement. There are representatives from education providers in Northern Ireland and in the Republic. We organise a series of events and collaborative projects. We meet up every couple of months and we usually meet in Dublin. Some people drive down but I get the train. I think the train is safer and more relaxing to travel on and I get lots of work done. When the weather conditions are bad, like today with a really bad gale forecast, it’s safer.
“I love getting peace to read and I usually plan ahead and there are no interruptions. It’s wonderful to get that time. I actually just got a new laptop which connects to the wifi and there is a plug socket for charging it. It’s more comfortable than the bus. The best thing about the train is that it’s relaxing. If I was to drive up and down to Dublin today I’d be in the car for five hours and I wouldn’t get any work done, which is a bit of a waste. Plus, I arrive much more tired because I’ve had to concentrate on the road. This way I arrive relaxed, and I’ve usually got some work done, which makes me feel better when I get there as well. I’m a big advocate of the train and I find the service is excellent.”
‘I get some of my best work done on the train’
Conan Fegan is a barrister from Newry. He practices both north and south of the border and travels by train for work in Dublin.
“If there is a trial I could be up and down on the train every day. If there isn’t a trial I could be in Dublin, on average, twice a week. I take the train so I can work and I can also have chats with friends. It’s too stressful driving up and down. There is a sense of calm, sometimes. I get some of my best work done on the train. You can concentrate for an hour whereas if you’re at home or in the office, you can’t do that. There are no distractions. On the train you have a good solid hour where you can get some of your best work done. It’s inspirational.
“Wifi and charging points are very important and the table is handy, too. My day starts as soon as I get on board. It’s much more productive for me than the car. The staff get to know you and you get to know them, that really adds to the journey. There is real sense of community, a moving community.”
‘I get free train travel now so it’s one of the perks’
Monica Patterson is travelling on the train with two friends, Lilian and Suzanne, to go to the Iranian Embassy in Dublin to get visas for a holiday in April.
“This holiday came about from a chance conversation with Suzanne. They’d been doing something about the Silk Road on the telly and I said that I’d loved it and she said the same and I said I’d always wanted to go to Iran and Suzanne said the same and within a week we’d booked and we can’t wait to go. We are going with a tour company on the trip and we have travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia with them before so we knew them. We had to send a CV to Iran and you have to be invited to get your visa so that’s why we’re going down to Dublin. I’m going to stay down with my sister who lives in Dublin tonight and I’m going to Irish Musem of Modern Art as I want to see an exhibition there as well.
“I get free train travel now so it’s one of the perks. You can bring a picnic or have something to eat on the train. It is just a very comfortable way of travelling, it’s nice, it’s the speed and convenience and you don’t have to worry about parking. It’s nice to have the company of friends and chat on the journey.”
‘It’s lovely, I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice’
Hannah Lynn is from Belfast. She works in accounts for a property company in Belfast and travels for meetings in their Dublin office once a month.
“I didn’t want to drive [to Dublin for the meeting] and it’s more relaxing to take the train. I was able to park in Belfast and five minutes brought me around to the train station. It’s calm on the train and it’s nice to be able to sit and eat your breakfast rather than waiting until you get there. If I do go to Dublin, I don’t drive, I get the train. It’s stress-free and hassle-free.
“If you drive you have to factor in whether traffic will be heavy, whereas if you’re on the train your arrival and departures are pretty set and you have security in that. If I do need to work I can factor that into my time on the train – you’ve got two hours to do stuff. The carriages are very nice and so comfortable. It’s lovely, I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice. I didn’t realise it was so reasonable either, I was shocked at how little it actually cost. You could take the first train out and the last train home and go down for the day to Dublin and the ticket is so reasonable.”
For more, visit www.irishrail.ie