Enterprise is the cross-border inter-city train service between Dublin Connolly in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast Central in Northern Ireland, jointly operated by Iarnród Éireann (IE) and NI Railways (NIR). It operates on the Belfast–Dublin railway line.
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 an important market. Customs checks were limited to the Belfast and Dublin terminals 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 Cork. This proved unsuccessful and ceased in September 1953 when the governments of the Republic of Ireland 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 Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) and Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) respectively. Following the completion of the Belfast Central Line Project, the Belfast terminal moved to 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, 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. The Northern Ireland section of the line was also upgraded to 90 mph running on many sections of the line.
Timetable times vary between 1 hour 53 minutes (with one intermediate stop) and 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 Edit
On 21 August 2009 20 m (22 yd) of the Broadmeadow estuary viaduct, north of Malahide, collapsed, causing serious disruptions to Enterprise services. During the disruption the Enterprise operated between Belfast Central and Drogheda, with buses connecting Drogheda with Dublin Connolly. The line reopened on 16 November with full services resumed.
Passengers can travel "First Plus" or "Enterprise Class". Additional to a trolley service there is a "Café Bar". First Plus offers a full three-course menu serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, air conditioning, tinted windows, adjustable blinds and individual reading lamps.