I used the 1300ex Dublin on Sunday last. I booked my ticket on line through Irish Rail. The service was very busy, however I had my seat reserved and thankfully this worked out well - though getting to my seat in good time proved to be a good idea. When checking in IR staff made no mention to sit on my reserved seat, nor was there any anouncements to refrain from sitting in reserved seats for other patrons.
Even though this particular service was very busy, this was helped by the fact that there was a TRANSLINK hostess on board who made clear regular on-board greetings and meeted and greeted pretty much everyone, asking people had they connecting trains to meet at either Portadown or Belfast Central. The comfort is still OK, given the fact that these trains are now coming on 17 years old. A little bumpy on the way up particulary up as far as Dundalk. Given the service was very busy we made it to belfast a few minutes ahead of schedule which was great as I had a connecting train to meet on the Londonderry line onwards from Belfast Central. May I add the train on this service was of pure pleasure, comfort, cleaniness & speed!
I returned on the 2005ex Belfast on Monday night. A very much quieter journey. This seemed to be managed by Irish Rail staff, the host was rarely seen, there were no announcements of any nature throughout the journey, tickets were only checked after Drogheda at this stage the train was even quieter.
Overall I must confess and give credit, as I've said given the fact the trains are nearly twenty years old, the two journeys I made were reasonably comfortable, punctual and reliable on this occasion. Irish Rail staff could help by being more informative around seat reservations, and announcements made on the train.