Decision on city Luas link stalled as more facts sought

 

AN BORD Pleanála is to commission a report on the feasibility of running the Luas through sensitive areas of Dublin city centre without overhead power cables – as has been done in the French city of Bordeaux.

In a letter to the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), the board said it was commissioning the independent report because it was “not satisfied” that alternatives to overhead power cables had been “adequately explored”.

The board was to have made a decision on whether to approve the city centre link between Dublin’s two existing Luas rail lines, running onwards to Broombridge in Cabra. Instead, it is seeking more information from the RPA.

The proposed route would run from St Stephen’s Green down Dawson Street and on by way of Nassau Street, Grafton Street Lower, College Green and Westmoreland Street to O’Connell Street and then to Parnell Square and Broadstone.

In its request, the board noted that the project – known as Luas BXD – was originally planned to start after the completion of Metro North and Dart Underground, both of which have since been postponed by the Government.

It is seeking clarification from the RPA about how the latest “sequencing” of the three projects, which now gives priority to Luas BXD, would affect interaction between them – particularly in critical areas of the city centre.

“It is not clear to the board that the approved Metro North underground infrastructure . . . at St Stephen’s Green, Westmoreland Street and O’Connell Street Lower can be constructed while maintaining an operational Luas BXD service at ground level.”

An Bord Pleanála said it had “reservations about the acceptability of a scenario whereby an operational Luas BXD service would have to be suspended, or its infrastructure made redundant or replaced after only a short period in operation”.

One option suggested by the board is that the designs of Metro North and Dart Underground be modified to accommodate Luas BXD, and that this should be done in conjunction with the National Transport Authority.

The board gave the RPA a deadline of March 30th to respond to its request for clarification.