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€500m Luas contract up for grabs


The Luas . Photo: Caroline Quinn

The Luas . Photo: Caroline Quinn

The Luas . Photo: Caroline Quinn

The competition to operate and maintain the Luas system in Dublin is under way, with expressions of interest being sought from companies for the estimated €500m contract.

The Luas is operated by French firm Transdev. That contract expires at the end of 2019. But the tender process for the contract will begin this year.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland will host an information day at its offices in Dublin next month for prospective operators.

Transdev and its predecessors have held the Luas contract since 2002.

The first tram rolled through the city in 2004, when the Green Line opened. The Red Line opened in September of that year.

Transdev predecessor Veolia Transport secured an extension to its contract in 2008, extended its deal until 2014, when it secured the current operating contract after what it said was a "very competitive" tendering process.

Construction of the €368m Luas Cross City line began in 2013 and it's due to be completed by the end of this year and will include 13 new stops. It will add an additional 10 million annual passenger journeys to the Luas network. The Luas carried 34.2 million passengers last year.

However, it suffered from persistent industrial unrest in 2016.

Twelve days of strikes caused travel chaos for thousands of commuters as Luas drivers sought pay increases of as much as 35pc.

Transdev had argued that it could not afford the levels of increases being sought. It also incurred heavy penalties amounting to hundreds of thousands of euro as a result of the strikes under the terms of its operating contract.

However, an agreement was eventually hammered out that saw drivers secure pay rises of between 15.6pc and 18.3pc over four years. They also immediately each received a €750 payment.

The Labour Court also recommended that a Transdev plan to increase the length of their shifts from nine to nine-and-a-half hours should be dropped.

In return, drivers had to agree to cooperate with the extension of the Luas service to Broombridge.

The latest set of publicly available accounts for Transdev Dublin Light Rail show it generated revenue of €30m in 2015 and made a €521,000 loss.

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