THE NEW Luas extension in Dublin, which will run between Busaras/Connolly station and the Point, was roundly praised by passengers last night, many of whom were attending the Lily Allen concert at the O2.
“It’s brilliant – so handy,” DCU student Chantall Halley enthused on her way to the gig.
Rodrigo Ferrera from Brazil said the route extension meant he could travel directly from Tallaght, where he lived, to work in the O2. “It’s cheaper than the bus. Normally, I would get the Luas or the bus to O’Connell Street or Abbey Street and then I walk for 15 or 20 minutes. So it’s very nice now that it’s winter.”
Thomas Brady and his wife, Jean, were availing of yesterday’s once-off free travel on the route. “I worked here 20 years ago when Mayor Street was all run down flats.” Mr Brady said. “It’s marvellous to see the change.”
Speaking at the opening of the line yesterday, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to complete Transport 21 projects in Dublin in spite of anticipated budget cuts. He said that while the original timeframe for metro and Luas lines would not be met, both Metro North and Dart Underground would go ahead. Two further Luas extensions would open in the next two years and planning would continue for the remaining proposed Luas lines in the city.
Of Metro North and Dart Underground, Mr Dempsey said: “I can give an absolute assurance that planning goes ahead. Both of them are in the capital programme . . . They have to go through the planning process and the Government is absolutely committed to both of those projects.”
He added: “There are a couple of more Luas extensions that will open over the next couple of years and further ones that are in planning. We intend to ensure that we can bring all of those through planning and design and then we will build as we have the money to build.”
Frank Allen, chief executive of the Railway Procurement Agency, said “with a fair wind” getting Metro North through the planning process, it could begin construction towards the end of 2010.
He said a railway order application would be made to An Bord Pleanála for the city centre Luas line linking the Red and Green routes, continuing out via Grangegorman to Broombridge, in 2010.
The Cherrywood Luas extension is due to open in September 2010 while the Luas extension via Citywest to Saggart was scheduled for 2011.