Two stops on Luas extension to remain closed

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TWO STOPS on the Luas extension to Cherrywood which is to open on October 16th, are to remain closed until further notice.

The stops at Racecourse and Brennanstown have been substantially completed but supporting development including local roads which were to be provided by land owners and property developers remain unbuilt.

The situation mirrors the recent opening of the Dunboyne commuter rail extension, where the Hansfield station remains closed because access roads in the 3,000 home strategic development zone were not built.

At Brennanstown, the Railway Procurement Agency said it had provided a stop but housing development and roads had not come on stream, and so trams would not be stopping there for the foreseeable future.

At Racecourse, the agency said it had expected Horse Racing Ireland to provide access between the stop and the racecourse, to facilitate occasional “race trams”, but this had not happened.

Campaign group Rail Users Ireland said the Racecourse stop was “a substantial distance from Leopardstown Racecourse and appears to serve no purpose whatsoever”.

The route will now serve nine new stops, not counting Racecourse and Brennanstown, along a 7.5km route which will take it from Sandyford to Brides Glen in 20 minutes.

Rail Users Ireland also questioned the route’s deviation from the route of the old Harcourt Railway line, which has involved a steep climbing bend across Leopardstown Road to the Central Park stop. The campaign group also drew attention to the amount of track and crossings at road level which it said may make it more difficult to convert to a metro in a future upgrade.

In his report on the route published in 2006, inquiry inspector James Connolly SC recommended the line be capable of upgrade to a metro service.

In evidence at the hearing, the director of the then Dublin Transportation Office, John Henry, called for “a detailed plan” of the upgrade which he said would be required in five to 10 years.

Yesterday, the railway agency said issues such as the Brennanstown stop were evidence the upgrade would not be required in the foreseeable future. The agency has previously said it would not be required before 2020.

Agency spokesman Tom Manning said the key difference required by such an upgrade would be “grade separation” – the elimination of ground which is shared by both tram and road vehicles either at level crossings or along streets.

Mr Manning said inbound and outbound routes had been designed far enough apart to allow for wider “metro-style” carriages. He said that the number of stops at nine over the 7.5km extension, or 22 stops over the whole 16.5km length between Brides Glen and St Stephen’s Green, would not stop the line becoming a metro.

“The London Underground or the Paris Metro have stops that close” he said. “But in relation to the upgrade, anything can be done.”

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