The rail network and how we use it

Rail’s passenger mode share: Travel to work

Rail’s passenger mode share: Travel to work

Figure 5. Passenger travel mode share to work

A small percentage of people travel by rail for commuting, particularly outside Dublin and Belfast

The proportion of people travelling to work, school, or university by rail varies across Ireland, In Dublin, where rail has its largest share of commuting trips, overall share of travel by rail is 7%. The regions around Belfast and Dublin are the only others where rail’s commuting mode share exceeds 2%.

In much of the west, northwest, and southeast, rail has a negligible mode share. This reflects the limited coverage and number of services on much of the rail network, as well as the impact of car-centric low density development patterns in recent decades.

Those in more rural regions who travel by train are more likely to do so for occasional long-distance business and leisure trips, rather than regular commuting.

A survey of the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise customers in 2019 found that just over half of people were regular customers, with 31% of people travelling at least once a week on the service, and 24% travelling at least once a month.

The car, including drivers and passengers, is the dominant mode for commuting in all regions, accounting for half of commutes even in Dublin and exceeding three-quarters of all commuting trips in several regions.

Buses have a higher mode share than rail but do not exceed the 10%-20% range in any region. The active modes of walking and cycling have their highest share in Belfast and Dublin, accounting for more than a quarter of commuting trips in each.

The pie charts on these maps show the proportion of trips to work for residents in each region taken by each mode of transport: walking/cycling, bus, rail, car passenger, and car driver. The size of each pie charts is proportionate to the number of people commuting in each region.

Journey purpose of rail trips

Visiting friends and family and other leisure activities account for almost half of all rail journeys across the Iarnród Éireann Intercity network. A survey of 3,700 InterCity passengers in 2020 found that only 12% of passengers were travelling for commuting to work, while 14% were travelling to third level education institutions, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Journey purpose for InterCity rail journeys, Iarnród Éireann 2020