THE Luas is to be extended into the centre of the Co Wicklow seaside town of Bray, transport chiefs have confirmed.
It comes after an intense public campaign to have the rail line connect with both the Dart and trains from the south-east, which carry thousands of commuters into Dublin every day.
The extension from Cherrywood, near Loughlinstown, to an as yet undetermined spot north of the town will divide in two, with one line going to Fassaroe in the west and the other through Bray to the Dart.
The announcement is a major coup for the county, with both local politicians and the town's chamber of commerce strongly welcoming the move.
Tom Manning, Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), said: "It was decided that, subject to approval and receiving funding, the line will go and connect with the Dart."
Rolled-out under the Government's Transport 21 plan, the RPA last summer announced three possible routes for the extension, all of which by-passed Bray centre. But a campaign, launched by the local chamber of commerce, called for a spur-line to connect the light rail system with the Dart.
Advertisements were taken out in the county's local media, urging residents to write to the RPA in support of the link.
The announcement was given this week via an RPA letter to county manager Eddie Sheehy, read out at a meeting of Bray Town Council.
Subject to planning approval, it is hoped the project could be finished by 2015.
It would mark a major transport boost for the commuter population of both counties Wicklow and Wexford.
Mr Manning said detailed plans would now be devised as to how trams would run through the town.
Bray Chamber President Eugene Finnegan branded the announcement as historic.
"A number of months ago, all that seemed likely was a bus transit link into Bray from a Luas stop in Fassaroe," he said.
"Today, we have confirmation that the Luas will be brought into Bray and will link with Bray Dart Station.
"It is clear that the significant public response from the public in Bray and Co Wicklow calling on the RPA to bring the Luas into Bray was a significant factor in this decision.
"From the outset, we have passionately lobbied and articulated our belief that the Luas should connect with Bray Dart Station, thereby serving an existing population of 30,000, as well as towns across Co Wicklow served by the Suburban Rail Service," he said.
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