Nearly two years ago, I wrote about Irish Rail first class and all that it entailed – including how to upgrade at a fixed, very reasonable price – on the ‘Citygold’ service from Dublin to Cork, and vice-versa.
I’m now nearly two years into my same role based in Dublin, while I actually live in Limerick, so I thought I’d revisit and give an update on what the Irish Rail First Class experience is like in 2024.
I’ll start with the first, and probably most desired update – yes, the method to upgrade yourself to first class is still alive and working, from my previous post. For those unaware, the trick was as follows;
- Buy a standard ticket (Irish Rail tickets are broken down by how far in advance they’re being purchased, and the cheaper, advance tickets come with less flexibility and greater cancellation restrictions), and complete the purchase.
- Go back to the homepage, put in the same From, To and dates again – but in the ‘Passenger’ field, click the ‘-‘ in the Adult field until you reach 0, and instead add the correct amount of travellers to the ‘Reservation Only’ field instead.
- Note; Only put in From and To for stations actually served by a train with first class. For example, because only the train from Cork to Dublin has Citygold, but not the train from Limerick to Limerick Junction, then I’ll input my ‘From' as ‘Limerick Junction’, and my ‘To' as ‘Dublin Heuston’. If I simply put Limerick Colbert, nothing will be returned.
- On the next screen, it’ll show you options for flexible tickets or a first class reservation – which you then proceed to purchase like usual.
- Yes! You’ll now have two booking numbers, your original booking and this first class ticket reservation, and you need to print or present them both.
And that last point brings me to my second update – after my previous rant, Irish Rail are slowly introducing QR code digital tickets. Thank goodness; this means you can benefit from flexibility until travel, as opposed to where you can no longer make any changes once the ticket has been printed – even if you’d a fully flexible ticket.
So, how is it on-board?
Well, since I last wrote a few years back, there have been no major changes to the Irish Rail Citygold service between Dublin and Cork. Same seats, same upholstery – as always, the major benefit is the extra legroom, seat width, and all-round spaciousness. Citygold has 3 seats across (2 on one side of the aisle, and then one on the other side, which is great if you’re by yourself as I usually am).
There’s also a dedicated bathroom for first class passengers, that comes complete with Irish countryside wallpaper for you to enjoy while you try to maintain your standing/sitting position hurtling through the actual Irish countryside.
All seats also come with a table, socket, and some crazy blue window tinting that not only prevents sun glare but makes you think you’re in a rocket of some sort.
More recently, as catering services are being re-introduced, a complimentary coffee or tea is offered to first class passengers on the Dublin to Cork service – unfortunately, in my experience, it’s passed by the time I join the service at Limerick Junction and so I’ve only benefitted from it twice – once departing from Dublin, and once from Cork.
Overall though, it’s a big step up in terms of comfort from the rather more spartan surrounds of the Irish rail standard economy offering – which comes 4-abreast in a modern leather upholstery, but with far tighter legroom.
And the Enterprise?
I recently had cause to travel to Belfast from Dublin Connolly, and we duly treated ourselves to Enterprise Plus, the Enterprise rail service’s first class offering.
This one was a real treat – the carriages are very pleasant and modern. On boarding, dim lighting illuminated the carriage and we quickly found our seats – which are very similar to the Citygold seats, though apparently upholstered far more recently, or kept in better shape.
On departure, complimentary orange or apple juice (or water) was offered to all passengers, followed by an offer of the menu for at-seat dining. Unaware that such splendour awaited me, I’d just devoured a sandwich at O’Briens, otherwise I’d have been tempted.
I’d barely gotten over the shock of such sophisticated rail travel, when, nearing the latter stages of the journey, hot face towels were presented to passengers to refresh themselves ahead of our arrival.
Overall, Enterprise Plus was a real surprise and very much a way to travel if I found myself with a need to return to Belfast again soon.
There is, I believe, first class available on several other routes that consists much moreso of a private carriage but the same seating as economy – but so far I haven’t encountered any of these trains.
What do you think – have you tried Irish Rail First Class yet? Would you?