Dublin and Belfast are linked by various cross-border buses. As mentioned above, an option is the X1/X2 service jointly run by Goldline and Bus Éireann which departs from Europa Bus Station. There are also a number of other companies operating the same route also, such as aircoach and dublin coach. The main difference is that while the X1 serves Sprucefield, Banbridge and Newry on the way down to Dublin, which adds to the journey time, all other buses are usually express buses stopping only at Dublin Airport and Dublin city centre. The X2 service, though, is an express that stops only at Dublin Airport and the city, but it runs at a lower frequency than X1 and so is not as convenient.
The bus journey takes about 2 hours, which is the average amount of time needed for this particular route.
Buses departing and arriving in Belfast use either Europa or Glengall Street, which is the street next to Europa. Generally speaking all Goldline services use Europa while other operators use Glengall Street.
Buses departing and arriving in Dublin use either Busáras or O’Connell Street (aircoach set down). Either way check with your operator for the designated pickup and drop-off points.
Goldline also runs the X3/X4 service from Derry/Londonderry to Dublin though this bypasses Belfast completely and largely serves the western portion of NI.
Goldline Cross-Border experience posts:
**All bus services between Belfast/Derry and Dublin will stop at Dublin Airport, regardless of operator unless stated otherwise**
Enterprise is the flagship cross-border service jointly operated by NI Railways and Irish Rail. It runs on specially branded locomotive-hauled carriages, and features a more premium interior as compared to regular intercity trains. Trains depart from Belfast Central and stops at Portadown, Newry, Dundalk, and Drogheda on the way down to Dublin Connolly. While generally reliable, it is subject to relatively frequent service issues, judging by the number of times NI Railways tweeted about how the so-and-so Enterprise service will be formed of a normal intercity train due to a fault with the dedicated trains. Indeed occasionally you will find yourself aboard an Irish Rail intercity stock speeding towards Belfast or Dublin.
The train takes about 2 hours, though it is subject to delays along the mainline as it shares its tracks with other NI Railways services and Irish Rail’s Commuter and DART trains. Dublin Connolly is also suffering from a track capacity issue where it is basically running at peak capacity. Any delays on the mainline will thus affect the Enterprise service.
Tickets can be purchased from Irish Rail or Translink’s websites, though only for journeys beginning in their respective countries. Eg: Journeys beginning in NI can only be bought on Translink’s websites. Translink sells tickets at a lower, “web” fare up to 72 hours before departure, which can be very affordable but have limited availability. Standard priced tickets are usually more expensive, and here the Enterprise loses its attractiveness against the bus service which is cheaper. On the other hand Irish Rail sells Enterprise tickets as if it were a normal Intercity service and does not have any discounted prices. Interestingly enough, a single, full fare ticket from Dublin to Belfast is still cheaper than a single full fare ticket from Belfast to Dublin. This kind of pricing makes you wonder exactly what sort of business are they running. Still, it is generally cheaper than British intercity trains.
Enterprise experience posts: