Luas (Irish pronunciation: [ˈl̪ˠuəsˠ]; Irish for "speed") is a tram/light rail system in Dublin, Ireland, which in 2014 carried 32.4 million passengers.
There are two main lines: the Green Line, which began operating on 30 June 2004, and the Red Line which opened on 26 September 2004. Since then, both lines have been extended and split into different branches. The system now has fifty-four stations and 36.5 kilometres (22.7 mi) of track.
Luas is operated by Transdev, under tender from the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA). It is a major part of the National Transport Authority's strategy (2000–2016). Three extensions to the existing Luas lines have been completed. Construction of a 6 km extension to the Green line to the North city centre and Broombridge, which will link both Green and Red lines, began in June 2013.
The idea for a new tram or light rail system for the city of Dublin was first suggested in 1994, by a Dublin Transportation Initiative (DTI) report, which referenced the original Dublin tramways, once running over 60 kilometres (37 mi) and reaching most parts of the city. Following this report Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), the state-owned public transport operator in Ireland, was asked to study the different options. They recommended two phases for the construction of a tram system:
- Phase 1: Tallaght to Dundrum/Balally via the City Centre
- Phase 2: Ballymun to the City Centre and Dundrum/Balally to Sandyford
The Transport Act, 1996 created a legal framework for CIÉ to build a tram system and in May 1997 the company applied for a Light Railway Order to construct the first phase, as well as the Dundrum/Balally to Sandyford part of phase 2.
An inquiry started in July 1997, but was put on hold to investigate the possibility of underground sections in the city centre. In May 1998 the government decided to build two lines, amending the plans. The first was to run from Tallaght to Connolly Station, while the second would run from Sandyford Industrial Estate to Dublin Airport, through the city centre and Ballymun. Part of the second was to be underground through the city centre.
The responsibility for developing the Luas was transferred from CIÉ to the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), a separate government agency created in December 2001.
Construction work began in March 2001 on the Tallaght to Connolly line, as well as the Sandyford to St. Stephen's Green section of the second line, with Ansaldo of Italy and MVM of Australia getting the contract to build the system. The St. Stephen's Green to Dublin Airport section was dropped before construction began, as it was decided to serve the area by a metro instead. The contract to maintain and operate the system was awarded to Veolia Transport Ireland (formerly known as Connex).
The development of the Luas Red Line was facilitated by EU funding of €82.5 million under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and part of the cost of some proposed line extensions (e.g. over 50% of Line B1 to Cherrywood) is being raised though levies on development in areas close to the projected route.
The original launch date for the Luas was to be 2003, but delays in construction saw this date pushed back by a year. An advertising campaign took place to inform the public of the development of the system, while construction was taking place. Construction finished in February 2004 and a period of testing and driver training began. 30 June 2004 was decided on as the official launch date of the Green Line. The first tram went into service for the general public at 3 p.m. Several days of free travel and a family fun weekend took place to launch the system. The Red Line opened on 26 September 2004, with six days of free travel for the general public.
2004 to present Edit
By November 2006, over 50 million journeys had been made on the system. Around 90,000 Luas trips are made each day. 28.4 million journeys were made in 2007. 27.4 million journeys were made in 2008. 25.4 million journeys were made in 2009. To date, the busiest day on the Luas system was Friday, 21 December 2007 when 145,000 passenger journeys were recorded.
Luas operates without a state subvention. The service recorded a surplus of €985,000 (€680,000 in 2004) - an achievement well ahead of an anticipated deficit of €2.5 million.
On the 8 December 2009 the Red Line C1 Connolly to Docklands extension opened. There are 4 stops: George's Dock, Mayor Square, Spencer Dock (serving the new Docklands railway station, approximately 500m away) and terminating in Point Village, opposite the The O2-this extension however bypasses Connolly. Construction started at the beginning of June 2007. Test runs began on the line in September 2009 before the opening.
The Railway Procurement Agency noted in their annual report that passenger numbers fell for the first time in 2009. The Luas had 25.4m passengers in 2009.
On Saturday 16 October 2010 the Luas B1 extension from Sandyford to Cherrywood opened.
In June 2010, plans to join the two Luas tracks were finalised. On 20 May 2011 the Dublin City Council made submissions to An Bord Pleanála's Oral Hearing into Line BXD stating that the Planning Authority had a serious area of concern with the overhead conductor system in the historical city centre asking for a wire free zone.