First full test run for Luas extension

 

THE FIRST tests of the long-awaited Cherrywood extension to the Luas Green Line took place yesterday.

The test began at 7am and covered the entire 7.5km of the new route. The extension almost doubles the initial 9km length of the Luas Green line from St Stephen’s Green to Sandyford.

Railway Procurement Agency spokesman Tom Manning said the test run had been successful and had resulted in the tram making the return journey faster than expected. The agency is responsible for developing the State’s light railway infrastructure.

The extended Luas line, which will service 12 stops between Sandyford and Bride’s Glen, is expected to open before the end of the year, although the agency is hopeful that it can be opened as early as October. The extension will link with the Luas Green Line at the Sandyford stop and travel southwest alongside the prominent Vodafone building at Central Park, across the M50, and will continue to Glencairn before crossing the M50 to Leopardstown and running on to Cherrywood and, ultimately, Brides Glen.

The €300 million Cherrywood Line was funded via a public-private partnership.

Property developers with projects within a kilometre of the Luas line were charged a special development levy, in a move designed to raise about €150 million of the cost of the extension.

Many of these developments were apartment blocks of between five and seven storeys which are now largely vacant.

Mr Manning said the economic difficulties now facing property developers had not affected the line’s development.

“There is a 30-year timeframe for the State to recoup the money, so that could be as many as three or more economic cycles,” he said.

Although the line came in within budget, there have been comparisons made between the cost of the Cherrywood extension and the cost of the first phase of the Luas light rail, with the new line costing about €5 million more a kilometre.