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Cork to Belfast by train?

Cape Cod
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Cork to Belfast by train?

My husband and I will be in Cork next March to visit our granddaughter who is doing a semester at UCC. We need to get to Belfast to pick up our tour. Planes seem ridiculous and train makes sense but my reading of the schedules suggests that we can't book anything until 28 days ahead. Is this accurate? We don't want to drive and we don't want to do bus. We're not adverse to changing trains in Dublin. Someone suggested that we might be better off finding a shuttle to Shannon and then flying from Shannon to Belfast. Advice??? Thanks for wahtever info you can provide.

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1. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

Correct - Irish Rail's online booking system does not facilitate bookings more than 28 days in advance. That said and if you do not wish to fly, I think that rail is the most straightforward option. There are hourly services from Cork to Dublin Heuston station. From there, you need to transfer to Dublin Connolly Station for the Dublin Belfast service which runs at about 2 hourly intervals. You can transfer between stations in Dublin by Luas (trams) which links both locations, or by taxi.

Travel time from Cork to Dublin is about 2 hours 45 minutes and from Dublin to Belfast about 2 hours 10 minutes. I's suggest you allow about an hour minimum between arrival time in Heuston and departure from Connolly, though the actual transfer time by Luas is only 15 minutes. However, you need to allow for possible delays in arrival at Heuston etc.

The alternative you suggest of travelling to Shannon and then flying to Belfast does not sound plausible. I do not know of any easy or direct links from Cork to Shannon nor am I aware of any Shannon to Belfast flights.

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2. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

Not sure why you think the plane seems ridiculous - it's very convenient. You can fly from Cork to Belfast City Airport which is close to the city centre in just over an hour.

www.manx2.com/cgi-bin/airkiosk/I7/181002i…

There's no flights to Belfast from Shannon. There isn't even a daily flight from Shannon to Dublin (there's one service that leaves on certain days of the week en route to the US) and no flights from Dublin to Belfast.

Is the fact that you can't book trains more than 28 days in advance a problem? You really won't have any difficulties getting tickets if you do decide to travel by train. Even with cheaper fares available on line, you'll still find locals turning up, buying a ticket and boarding a train. Trains are comfortable but you'll have to schlep your own luggage around and the journey will take you most of a day.

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3. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

As a preferred method of travel the train gives you a chance to see something of the Irish countryside in relative comfort that you may not find on a plane or bus. As mentioned above Cork to Belfast requires a change at Dublin and because the stations are on oposite sides of the city you will probably find that a taxi is the easiest means of getting from A to B.

The suggestion above of using the Luas tram would be for someone who is very familiar with the service and getting about Dublin etc.

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Cape Cod
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4. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

Thanks so much to those of you who replied so completely. Is flying really an option? That would be good for us but when I look at schedules all I see is going through London with a ridiculous layover or a direct flight at about $1000 per person, which is almost double the fare we're paying from Boston to Dublin! Apparently there used to be an Aer Araan flight but those seem to have been cancelled. Am I missing something here?

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Cape Cod
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5. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

I just checked the link you provided to Manx Air and that certainly does seem to be an excellent option. Can you tell me more about this airline? It doesn't appear on anything else I've seen and doesn't pop up in the flight finders I've been using.

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6. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

You're welcome, CapeGranny.

You can read more about Manx2 here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manx2

They are a UK regional airline based in the Isle of Man (a self-governing British Crown Dependency located in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland). As far as we know, they have only recently taken air routes within Ireland and we've no personal experience of them. The Cork-Belfast route was previously run by Aer Arann (an Irish regional and short haul airline) and pulled out of the route just a few months ago. Manx2 has also taken over the Galway to Belfast route, previously operated by Flybe (another UK regional airline) and abandoned a few years ago.

If you do decide to take the train, transferring from Dublin Heuston Station on the edge of Dublin's south city centre where the train from Cork arrives to Connolly Station in the north city centre from where the train to Belfast departs by LUAS (tram) couldn't be easier.

The LUAS red line stops right outside Heuston Station. There are very clear information boards at the LUAS stops which flash up the destination of the next three trams and how long it will be before they arrive.

City-bound trams will have either a destination of 'Connolly Station' or 'the Point' on them. If you take a Connolly Station tram, it will drop you right outside the station. If you take a tram heading to "The Point", you simply get off at Busaras (bus station) and just cross the road to Connolly Station. You can buy tickets for the LUAS from machines at each stop. There's no problem taking luggage on board but you'll find trams outside the rush hours much less crowded. As Domhnall says, the transfer only takes about 15 mins or so (a little longer at busier times) but best to factor in about an hour from arrival at Heuston station and departure from Connolly.

www.luas.ie

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7. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

Thanks so much. We are torn between the flight, which sounds as if it might be a terrific experience, and just wanting to get there a little more quickly. Your information has been exceptionally helpful.

Now...do you know anything about Lancaster Lodge in Cork? Our granddaughter's university has suggested it as an appropriate place to stay while visiting the college. There will be four of us for that part of the trip. We'd thought to look for a self-catering place, but that's almost too short a stay, so a B & B arrangement would be best, I think.

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8. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

Sorry, can't help you with Lancaster Lodge. We are occasional visitors to Cork but wouldn't be knowledgeable about accomodation options. Hopefully Bryno, the Cork DE will see this and help you out.

We've taken quite a few internal flights in Ireland and they can be very enjoyable. Our flights have been on turbo props with about 60 seats which tend to fly low so you can get great views of the landscape, and sometimes even seascapes, particularly when the weather is behaving!

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9. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

If I was going to UCC, I'd stay in Garnish House, which is nearby and has a mighty breakfast!

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10. Re: Cork to Belfast by train?

I stayed recently overnight at Lancaster Lodge. It is not an upmarket hotel but for budget accommodation, it was clean and well maintained and the breakfast was good, with friendly service. It is located about 5 minutes walk from the east end of the main UCC campus and is also well placed relative to the city centre in Cork.

On the Manx flights between Cork and Belfast, as Tapl says, it's only a new service. However it seems that some flights may be indirect and may involve a stopover en-route - though I'm not sure where. Also, some services from Cork are to Belfast City Airport (which is quite central) and some are to Belfast International (which is quite a distance outside the city centre).

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