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New Luas section is right on track as it passes its first test

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THE first Luas trams ran through Dublin's docklands yesterday -- but it will be months before there are passengers on board.

Test runs were carried out on the first of a series of extensions to the light rail line.

The service, from Connolly station to the O2 arena, is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

The tests on this section passed off without any glitches and caused great excitement among residents, Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) spokesman Tom Manning said.

However, despite causing a stir among rail fans, no passengers are allowed on board during the test phase.

Milestone

"We've been delighted with it. It's given us an opportunity to test the clearance between the trams and the track," Mr Manning said.

"It's the first run on it and we will be doing more tests over the coming months so it's a major milestone for us."

An exact opening date for the €90m extension to the Luas Red Line through the docklands has not being confirmed yet. However, RPA officials are hoping to cut the ribbon before the end of the year. Work is also progressing on a number of other Luas and Metro projects at Citywest, Cherrywood, Bray/Fassaroe, Broombridge and Lucan, as well as the Metro North and Metro West.

Mr Manning said: "Well over 50pc of the work in any of these is at the design and planning stages. To progress them, we have to do a significant amount of design work and public consultation.

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"A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes before the first shovel goes into the ground," he added. The Luas Docklands extension will be the first of them to be completed.

A number of important works have been finished in recent weeks, including the positioning of all the electrical power cables.

Under Transport 21, it was envisaged that the extension would add an extra three million trips to the Luas network by 2016.

However, the new track will come on line just as the tram system is experiencing a fall-off in passenger numbers.


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