The making Luas

 

Chronology: The story of Luas, from 1990 when an Italian company proposed the reopening of the former Harcourt Street line to July 2004 when Luas trams finally go into operation.

  • 1990: An Italian company Ansaldo Transporti proposes reopening the former Harcourt Street railway line as an LRT Light Rail Transit system. Another group headed by Uinseann Mac Eoin, the architect and conservationist, puts forward a heavy rail option calling it "Dart 2". Both schemes are studied by a working party. Separately, Prof Simon Perry of TCD determines that reopening the old Harcourt Street line with a spur to Tallaght would cost £53 million.
  • February 1992 : The reopening of the old Harcourt Street railway line to provide a light-rail system to Sandyford Industrial Estate is approved by Cabinet.
  • July 1992: Consultants Steer Davies Gleeve appointed. It is widely expected the light-rail system linking Dublin airport with Dundrum and Tallaght will cost about £300 million.
  • 1994: Cuts in the National Development Plan 1994 - 1999 result in the deletion of the Ballymun/airport light rail spur. CIÉ says trams could be running down Grafton Street in five years.
  • 1996: Dr Garret FitzGerald argues that unless Luas goes underground in the city centre near-constant gridlock will result.
  • 1997: The Tallaght to Dundrum LRT is on schedule for completion in 2000, transport minister Mr Alan Dukes tells the Dáil. Government allocated £100 million for phase one.

Public inquiry opens but is adjourned as the new Fianna Fáil government announces a report into the underground section in Dublin.

  • MAY 1998: Cabinet decides to put Luas underground in the city centre. Public inquiry into two separate lines.
  • August 2000: "We can report that the two main suburban light rail lines from Tallaght to Abbey Street and from Sandyford to St Stephen's Green are on schedule to be fully in operation three years from now (mid-2003) and in accordance with the government timetable set down in May 1998" - Mr Padraic White, chairman of the Light Rail Advisory Action Group.

"The prospect of an interim service being available by Christmas 2002 as recommended by the Advisory Group remains in place" - Mr White to the minister for public enterprise, Ms O'Rourke.

  • March 2001: Ms O'Rourke announces the awarding of the contract to build the Luas lines at a cost of £500 million (€635m). The main contract is awarded to a joint venture comprising Ansaldo of Italy and MVM of Australia. In October the minister of state, Mr Séamus Brennan, says both lines will be operational in 24 months' time. First tram goes on display in Merrion Square in November.
  • 2002: Magazine advertisements promises trams will begin running in 2003 and "after that its every five minutes".
  • October 2002 : The most likely date for operation of trams is in the first quarter of 2004, it is announced. But if construction was delayed, the opening date would be put back beyond the first quarter of 2004, said Mr Frank Allen, chief executive of the Railway Procurement Agency.