Faster trains and expanded schedules announced across Irish Rail network

Improvements on operations between Cork and Dublin will include ‘fastest ever’ service from next weekend

Irish Rail is to begin a number of new schedules from next weekend including faster journey times between Dublin and Cork.

It has also announced “significant changes” for Saturday and Sunday Dart timetables to improve performance.

Extra services have been announced across a new schedule for Cork, Carlow, Westport, Portlaoise, Mallow and Drogheda stations.

In the run up the busy Christmas season, the operator also said improvements on operations between Cork and Dublin would include its “fastest ever scheduled service”.


Additional Intercity trains will run to and from Cork, Carlow and Westport.

There will also be additional trains in the commuter belt areas between Dublin and Portlaoise, Dublin and Drogheda and Cork and Mallow, all beginning on Sunday, December 10th.

Kishoge Station is due to open in 2024 with a local Heuston and Phoenix Park Tunnel service.

The new timetables and changes come on foot of public consultation held last September 2023 which gauged the views of 1,650 customers.

Trains running on the Dublin to Cork/Limerick route will see journey time improvements, Irish Rail said on Monday following track and infrastructure upgrades.

“The non-stop 6:15am Cork to Dublin Heuston weekday service which, at two hours and 14 minutes – five minutes quicker than previously – becomes the fastest scheduled service to operate the route.”

Of the significant service changes, Irish Rail noted the following:

– An additional 6am weekday Heuston to Cork train arriving at 8.32am, a move that provides a pre-9am arrival to Cork City for the first time, including a connection from Limerick Junction to Limerick for a pre-8am arrival to Limerick City.

– There will be a new 12.20pm Heuston to Carlow and 3.15pm Carlow to Heuston service running from Monday to Friday.

– In the West, the rail operator will add a 4.20pm Westport to Athlone and 9.08pm Athlone to Westport service during the week, including a connection to and from Ballina to that new 9.08pm service.

– Significant expansion to the Heuston to Portlaoise commuter Sunday services, with eight additional trains from Portlaoise to Heuston, and seven in the opposite direction.

– An extension to existing Heuston-Kildare services and additional stops on a number of Heuston-Cork services at Portlaoise, to connect with commuter services.

– An extra morning peak service each way between Cork and Mallow, operating at 7.20am (to Mallow) and 7.50am (to Cork).

– Additional weekday Connolly to Drogheda services (12.20pm, 1.27pm and 2.20pm) and in the other direction (11.40am and 12.40).

In a long list of changes, Irish Rail also announced additional stops on existing schedules. These include four trains running from Heuston to Cork and five in the opposite direction on Sundays beginning to stop at Portlaoise to meet with commuter services.

The 7.35pm Heuston to Galway (Monday to Saturday) and the 6.45pm Heuston to Galway train (on Sunday) will serve Clara. The 6.25am Galway to Heuston (Monday to Saturday) train will begin to serve Ballinasloe.

“Iarnród Éireann with the National Transport Authority will continue to identify opportunities for further service improvements in the context of post-Covid travel patterns, as demand approaches, and on some routes exceeds, pre-pandemic levels,” the operator said.

“The purpose of investment in our network, fleet and services is to bring a better service to customers and allow more people make a sustainable travel choice.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times