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Frequently Asked Questions

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Smart Card

Errors in reading a Smart Card

Gates and Poles may on occasion fail to identify the Tag-On / Tag-Off. It is up to the customer to ensure the card has been read successfully. The two main reasons for card failure are:

1. Incorrect Positioning of Smart Card
If the Smart Card is not placed against the reader/'target' on the pole or gate, it will not be read. Ensure that the card is held steadily against the Smart Card reading 'target' for at least a second.
Do not wave the card over the Smart Card reading target Do not put the Smart Card into the horizontal paper ticket slot on a gate

2. Smart Card Interference
Remove the Smart Card from your wallet or bag before using it. Other Smart Cards you may have in your wallet or bag can cause interference with this card, which will make it inoperable.

How do I view my card balance?

At a Vending Machine

Put your card in the card 'pocket' and then follow the instructions on the ticket vending machine screen.


Log on to view your account history and you will be able to view your card balance.

Schoolchild or Scholar Smart Cards

For information on our schoolchild and scholar smart cards go to our ticket information section

Top-Up ePurse Online

If you purchased your ticket from the Ticket Vending Machine, you must register the Smart Card to avail of the on-line Top Up option. 

If already registered, log in to your on-line account. 

Select the option 'Top Up Card' 

Select the card you want to top-up and the amount you wish to top-up. 

Make your payment by Credit/Debit Card.

Using a Vending Machine to Top-Up the ePurse

1. Place the card in the slot provided.
2. Select the Top-Up Amount from options shown on the screen
3. Insert the amount selected - Notes/Coins/Credit or Debit Cards accepted
4. Remove the Smart Card from the pocket as indicated on screen
5. Your Smart Card is now Topped Up and ready for immediate use

Smart Card slot in a Vending Machine

Smart Card slot in a vending machine

What are the Fares, Smart Card Prices & how to get refunds

There is a €5 charge for the smart card. A summary of our fares can be found here.  

Please note: that it can take 24hrs before the card is topped-up.

Refunds due to Service & Ticket failure:

You must apply to the Customer Services Centre Tel: - 1850 211 777 who will process the refund payment. In event of a ticketing failure on our part, no fee will apply.

Refunds can only be given to customers who have registered their cards with Irish Rail or who have personalised cards. Registration can only be undertaken via the Irish Rail Smartcard website.

General Refunds

You must apply to the Customer Services Centre Tel: - 1850 211 777 who will process the refund payment

There is an administration fee of €10 for general refunds. 

What is a Smart Card?

This card is used to store travel credit that is deducted as you travel by rail within the Short Hop Zone. This Smart Card works in a similar way to those used on the Luas in Dublin or on the Tube in London. Smart Cards use contactless technology.

Customers must place their card against the validators on Iarnród Éireann's gates or poles. These are located at entry and exit points of stations. Don't forget to Tag-On before joining your train as not doing so would constitute fare evasion. Don't forget to Tag-Off at the end of your journey so that the correct fare will be charged.

Failure to Tag-Off will result in the maximum fare being charged to your card.

What is ePurse and how does it work?

ePurse works in a similar way to mobile phone credit. Every time you use the card to travel the cost of the journey is deducted. If there is insufficient no credit on the card it cannot be used for any further journeys until it is 'Topped Up'. Customers can add value to their card at Ticket Vending Machines in stations or on this website.

There are no Top-Up facilities at Ticket Offices.

What is Tag-On and Tag-Off?

At the start of the journey, you need to 'Tag-On' using your smartcard at a gate or validation pole. At the end of a journey you must 'Tag-Off' to ensure the correct fare is applied.

Tag-On - Identifies the origin of the journey
Tag-Off - Identifies the destination of the journey

If you don't Tag-On you are committing fare evasion.
If you don’t Tag-Off you will pay more.

Tagging on at our gate;

  • Hold the Smart Card against the Smart Card reader on the gate.
  • If you have credit on the Smart Card, the gate will open and allow you to enter and start your journey.
  • Your current ePurse balance will appear on the display on the gate.

Where does the Smart Card Work?

The Smart Card can be used for rail travel between stations within the 'Short Hop Zone'. This Zone includes all stations in the Dublin area from Greystones to Balbriggan and Commuter Stations from Dublin City Centre to Maynooth and from Dublin Heuston to Hazelhatch.

The Iarnród Éireann Smart Card only works on Iarnród Éireann's services and will be phased out by 31st July 2014.

A Leap Card  can be used on DART & Commuter services, Dublin Bus and Luas. Save up to 18% with Leap card versus cash fares. Leap also offers flexibility, convenience and is safer than carrying cash.

Why not use up all of the credit you have on your Iarnród Éireann Smartcard and trade up to a FREE Leap Card today.

Where to buy a Smart Card

Smart Cards can be purchased at Ticket Vending Machines in stations within the Short Hop Zone or on this website.