THE LUAS extension from Bus Áras to the Point is to open on Tuesday and will face its first big challenge within hours, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) said yesterday.
According to the RPA, passengers will be offered free travel on the entire Red Line from 3pm on Tuesday immediately after the official opening, until 12.30am, when the line closes. The offer coincides with a potential audience of up to 13,000 people at the Lily Allen concert in the 02.
As he gave pre-school children from the Giraffe and Early Learning centres in the IFSC a special preview of the new extension yesterday, RPA light rail project director Michael Sheedy said the three- bay Luas terminal at the Point would be able to move 2,500 people from the O2 in the first 20 minutes after the concert.
“You will have some people taking their cars anyway and some who will start walking rather than wait, so we are not really expecting a problem,” Mr Sheedy said. Depending on demand, trams could be available every 6½ minutes.
The new extension encompasses four new stops – at George’s Dock, Mayor Square, Spencer Dock and the Point. The route bypasses the current terminus at the Luas concourse at Connolly Station. The RPA says the distances to the new stop represent a walk of only one or two minutes.
From Tuesday, just one in three trams will deviate between Bus Áras and George’s Dock to serve the concourse at the station.
According to the RPA’s Tom Manning, one of the main benefits of the Luas extension will be in breathing life into the IFSC at night-time, bringing people into the area for concerts and giving people a reason to remain as late as the last tram at 12.30am.
The route will pass the Harbourmaster bar and restaurant and will serve many of the corporate offices in the IFSC, as well as the National College of Ireland and new hotels, restaurants and wine bars on the north quays. It will also serve the 02, the soon to be completed concert hall and the Point Village.
“It brings the tram into a whole new area of Dublin; it looks more like Boston,” said Mr Manning as he pointed out local landmarks including “the Anglo Irish icon”, an unfinished office block near the Point. Journey times from Tallaght to the Point will be 56 minutes and services will be every 6½ minutes at peak times.
Public consultation for the extension was launched in January 2001 and construction began in June 2007.