Rail Users Ireland logo banner_dartbanner_luasbanner_cde 

Rail Users Ireland Guide to Ticketing

This page will hopefully guide you through the minefield that is ticketing. Iarnród Éireann have seen fit to remove all information concerning commuter ticketing from their timetables and main website.

Iarnród Éireann have made no effort to publicise the majority of the information here. It is as if they don't want you to know. You can save substantial amounts of your time and money by choosing the right ticket and taking advantage of the rules under which it is issued. Hopefully this guide will answer many of your questions.

You only need one ticket

We already have integrated ticketing of a sort. If you are traveling from one train station to another you need only one ticket regardless of any bus transfer in between. Yes you can buy a single ticket from Cork to Belfast, Thurles to Sutton, Bray to Galway, from any rail station north or south to any other. The ticket will be automatically valid on both the 90 Bus and Luas if your journey requires a transfer between Heuston and Connolly. Cross border tickets are also possible so Waterford Larne on one ticket should be no problem.

Should a member of staff insist that for some reason it is not possible to issue a ticket for start to end, stand your ground it is possible. The I'm not allowed excuse is rubbish, the customer charter states,

We will endeavour to sell you the most appropriate ticket to meet your expressed needs

Irish Rail spotting that Rail Users Ireland highlighted this have now downgraded the charter commitment.

Our staff will help you choose the most appropriate ticket for your journey Iarnród Éireann Customer Charter, section 4

Now it is true that at times discounts are offered between specific destinations so it can be cheaper to get a ticket to Dublin City Centre and then another one onwards. Staff should know the difference and there is nothing stopping them from issuing both tickets at the same time.

If I'm in Limerick and want to go to Belfast I want the simplest cheapest option which is one ticket. We have amassed a collection of tickets issued outside Dublin to DART destinations and from DART stations to Intercity stations, it works. It is possible for the booking office in Cork (or anywhere else for that matter) to issue a single between Bray and Tara Street if someone asked.

So instead of buying and paying for 3 tickets, queue once, buy just one, avoid the queue for the Luas ticket machine and save a few euro into the bargain.

But I can't issue that ticket!

This is one of the most common complaints, you have done your homework and want a certain ticket and you meet a ticket clerk who either doesn't know how to issue the ticket or claims it can only be issued at a certain station.

The ticket machines behind the counter are identical at all stations and all are programmed the same. It is the fault of lazy ignorant or untrained staff not the equipment.

Valid or Luas or Not ?

Many train tickets are valid on Luas for the transfer between Heuston and Connolly/City Centre. Put simply if the ticket is printed with incl feeder service, I.F.S or LUAS it is valid between Connolly and Heuston. Be sure to ask when purchasing your ticket for Luas validity. For tickets purchased which require a transfer from Heuston to Connolly (e.g. Limerick-Belfast) they should be valid automatically. If you are using a ticket vending machine, select 'Dublin City Centre' as destination and then choose either 'Luas + Bus' or 'Bus only' logically enough 'Bus only' is only valid on the 90/145 buses

If you want to book online and need the 90 or Luas to either Heuston or Connolly to start (or complete) your journey use 'Dublin City Centre' in the journey planner and you may book online. The Luas add on fare is €1.70 adult, €0.90 child single and €3.40 adult, €1.80 child return. Note the standard single fare on Luas is €2.10 if bought separately.

The definitive guide may be found here. This is the official agreed list of tickets valid and not valid.

Dublin region ticket zones explained

The pricing structure and validity of many weekly, monthly and annual tickets is expressed on a zonal basis in the Greater Dublin Region. Tickets are valid for all journeys within specified zone. The details of these zones is not available in recent timetables for reasons unknown.

Zone List

Inner Short Hop:Rush & Lusk, Maynooth, Hazelhatch & Celbridge, Bray
(Outer) Short Hop:Balbriggan, M3 Parkway, Kilcock, Sallins, Kilcoole (All Luas and Dublin Bus services are within this zone)

Fares for the Short Hop zone may be found here Tickets are issued as rail only or a combination of rail/bus/luas

Annual Tickets

If you are a daily commuter, you really need to think about getting an annual ticket. It could save you several hundreds of euro per year whilst offering you the freedom to travel when you want without having to queue. Through the Taxsaver you can pay through a deduction from your salary. Depending on how decent your employer is you either pay in one go or spread it over 12 months. You receive tax relief at up to 52% at source on the value of the ticket, all of a sudden what was good value is now excellent.

A hidden and little used facility available to those with Bus only or Bus and Rail short hop zone annual tickets in Dublin is that they are valid on all Nightlink services (a saving of €6 each time) and also on all Airlink bus 747/757, weekly and monthly tickets are not. Generally Luas annual tickets are valid on Christmas late night Luas services as well.

Example costs:

  • €1450 for a Short hop Zone Rail Only
  • €1800 for a Short hop Zone Bus and Rail
  • €1800 for a Short hop Zone Luas and Rail
  • €1950 for a Short hop Zone Bus, Luas and Rail
  • €5120 for all Iarnród Éireann services

Please note these fare apply for tickets commencing December 1 2019

Annual tickets are available on a point to point basis for long distance commuters, specific station to station combinations are available on request. More fares available here, if the annual quoted fare is €5,120 point to point you should purchase the all Iarnród Éireann services ticket so when not travelling to work you can travel anywhere for no extra cost.

Full details are available from Iarnród Éireann's website on this page

Intercity Tickets are valid for more than the printed destination!

A hidden gem in the terms and conditions is that given your end destination could be a within reach of a number of rail lines, normal single and return tickets may be used interchangeably on adjacent lines. So a passenger could buy a return to Cork, travel to Cork and upon return board in Millstreet for Dublin. You may have to pay the difference in value between the tickets to complete the journey where a difference exists


Purchased ForValid also:
Dublin - CorkDublin - Limerick
Dublin - Waterford
Dublin - Tralee
Dublin - LimerickDublin - Cork
Dublin - Galway
Dublin - Tralee
Dublin - TraleeDublin - Cork
Dublin - Limerick
Dublin - WaterfordDublin - Cork
Dublin - Rosslare
Dublin - GalwayDublin - Limerick
Dublin - Westport/Ballina
Dublin - Westport/BallinaDublin - Sligo
Dublin - Galway

Break of journey is allowed on Intercity tickets

Say you are travelling from Dublin to Cork and decide to stop in Thurles to have lunch or see a GAA match, do you need two tickets? The answer is no, a Dublin-Cork single or return is all you need!

8.1 - Except as may be specified in the publications and notices of the and applicable to Iarnród Éireann, the holder of a single ticket may break his or her journey at intermediate station on any route for which the ticket is valid within the period of validity of the ticket. Iarnród Éireann Conditions of Carriage, Nov 2004 ed, Section A 8.1

An intercity journey is any journey which occurs outside the suburban areas e.g. Short Hop zone in Dublin or between Cobh and Cork or a journey which starts within a suburban area to any destination beyond it.

Unlimited Travel/Tourist Explorer Tickets

A wide range of tickets exist normally targeted at tourists, which allow unlimited travel around the country by rail and by rail and bus. These are normally for tourists but could be useful if you need to make a number of long journeys over a short period of time.

Options are as follows:

4 Day Trekker Ticket, valid for 4 consecutive days, all Irish Rail Services. Adult €110.00 (Note no child fare exists)

Irish Explorer Rail, valid 5 days of travel out of 15 consecutive days, all Irish Rail Services. Adult €160.00 Child €80.00

Irish Explorer Rail and Bus, valid 8 days of travel out of 15 consecutive days, all Irish Rail Services and all Bus Eireann services. Adult €245.00 Child €123.00

Note these are standard class fares only and none of these tickets are valid on Dublin city bus services or Luas.

Identity Cards


Put simply, all monthly and annual tickets require ID cards. A neat trick to getting an ID card valid for both bus, Luas and rail is to visit the Dublin Bus office on O'Connell Street Dublin who for €3 will take your photograph and give you the card while you wait. Alternatively ID cards are available upon production of passport-sized photograph from most main stations. A CIE issued ID card can be used on Luas was well, but not the other way around.

ID is not required for 1, 3 and 7 day point to point tickets.


It must be noted that a special ID card is required by most railways across Europe to avail of student fares, Irish Rail is no different. The Irish student travel card is available to all students in full time education aged 16 or over. These cards are available from the student unions of many colleges and can be applied for by post by filling out the form available here www.studenttravelcard.ie

Note the Student Travel Card is accepted in Northern Ireland and the Translink Student Discount Card is accepted by Irish Rail

Primary and Secondary School Children

Should obtain a child leap card, schoolchild fares will be applied automaticaly based on the time and date of travel.

Go further for less!

Iarnród Éireann operate a 3 level fare system, suburban, twin track intercity and single track intercity. Where services are infrequent, slow and prone to poor reliability i.e. single track lines like Dublin Rosslare fares are set much lower than the premier lines such as Dublin Cork/Limerick/Belfast where journey times are competitive, services frequent and reliability generally better than others. While there is some logic to this in that you pay a premium for fast journeys and reliability, the implementation on the ground however seems to be organised to extract the maximum amount of money out of the unsuspecting public.

  • Kildare Dublin day return €18.50
  • Athy Dublin day return €15.40

The more cunning of course will see an opportunity here, if you buy a Athy Dublin return from Kildare station the day before which is possible but IE have a plan to catch you out, hidden in the bye laws is this curious statement:

6. When the fare to an intermediate station exceeds the fare to a more distant station, no person shall, for the purpose of travelling to such intermediate station, take or use or attempt to use a ticket for the more distant station with intent to avoid payment of the additional fare to such intermediate station. The liability to or infliction of any penalty incurred by the contravention of this Bye-Law shall not prejudice any right of the Board to treat such ticket as forfeited and to recover the full fare for the distance actually travelled by the offender. SI 109 1984

Rail Users Ireland does not condone fare evasion, however, in this case it is clear a discriminatory fare policy is in place, Kildare and Newbridge pay some of the highest fares per mile of anywhere in Ireland.

Discount Cards

Student Travelcard

Heavily discounted travel single and return tickets issued for intercity journeys only (beyond the short hop zone). Weekly and monthly tickets also available in the Greater Dublin region. You may book online at no extra charge. Apply here

Young Adult Travelcard

Heavily discounted travel single and return tickets only for those aged 19 to 23. Weekly and Monntly tickets are NOT available. Apply here

Book Online

You can book online. You can purchase tickets for most intercity services online and seat reservations are available on all Dublin-Cork/Belfast services as well as Dublin/Limerick/Galway/Waterford/Westport services. Reservations are available on most Dublin Rosslare and Dublin Sligo services

To book:

  • Go to http://www.irishrail.ie/
  • Enter your start and destination stations and travel dates. Note use 'Dublin City Centre' if you need the bus/Luas to reach Heuston or Connolly
  • You then select the train you want, note, not all trains have reserved seats
  • Three ticket types are offered, depending on the level of flexibility you want
  • You then can optionally select the exact seat you want from those available
  • Free bike reservation subject to availability is an option
  • As a rule of thumb when selecting seats the top end of the coach on the website always points towards Dublin, this generally works for Dublin Belfast and most Cork services, direction of travel cannot be confimed on other routes.

Things to watch for, certain ticket types such as family tickets can't be booked online. If you are quoted a fare which is more than what you normally pay, its probably wrong.

Collect tickets from any station with a ticket vending machine or at main stations the booking office will also issue reservation tickets. You must have the booking reference code with you to collect your tickets and you may be asked for some proof of identity. You do NOT need the credit card to used to book to collect.


  • Discounted seats are available on EVERY single intercity service on EVERY route including Dublin Belfast
  • Book at least three days in advance

Last Updated: May 09 2022 07:20:41
© Rail Users Ireland 2007-2023