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Journal 194  - LUAS

TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE IRELAND  

Service Disruptions

Monday 19 June 2017: A severe power outage affecting the Overhead Catenary System at Abbey Street suspended Red Line services between 06:03 and 12:56 from Blackhorse into the city centre. Services operated between Tallaght/Saggart and Blackhorse, with onward bus connections.

Saturday 8 July 2017:  A woman in her fifties died after being struck by a Luas Red Line tram at around 00:30. The incident occurred on the Luas Red Line on St James Walk close to the city bound Fatima Luas Stop. The area was sealed off overnight to facilitate a forensic investigation by An Garda Siochana.

Thursday 27 July 2017: A man was struck by a Luas Red Line tram just after 20:45 on O’Connell Street near the Abbey Street junction. Emergency services attended at the scene, but it is understood the man was not seriously injured. Services on the Luas Red Line between Smithfield and The Point were suspended for a short period.

Monday 31 July 2017: Following a collision between a Luas Red Line tram and a car at Fettercairn, services between Belgard and Saggart were suspended. A replacement bus service, operated by Dualway Coaches, was provided.

Tuesday 1 August 2017: Luas Red Line services between Red Cow and Tallaght / Saggart were disrupted when a lorry carrying a crane brought down the overhead conductor system (OCS) at the junction of Belgard Road and Embankment Road.

Friday 11 August 2017: A road traffic incident around Bow Lane / James’s Street (between Heuston and James’s) suspended Red Line services for approximately 20 minutes. Trams from the city terminated in the centre platform at Heuston, and some trams terminated short at Red Cow to maintain the peak service.

Thursday 24 August 2017: The Luas Green Line was delayed for a period of 15 minutes shortly after 19:00 when a child was struck by a city-bound tram close to the Gallops.

LUAS CROSS CITY

GAUGE TESTING STARTS

The first day of gauge testing and trial running on the new line commenced on Saturday 17 June 2017. Two Red Line trams were used – 4001 “Tram A” and 4003 “Tram B”. Moving off from Red Cow depot at around 03:00, 4003 became the first tram to use the new link between the two lines at Abbey Street, heading for St. Stephen’s Green.

4001 conducted most of the testing, being used for the first circuit from St. Stephen’s Green to O’Connell Street, Parnell Street and back south. This test was conducted at around 5 km/h and stopped regularly for checking. With 4003 at the Trinity stop, the two trams went in convoy to St. Stephen’s Green, where 4001 tested the turn-back siding.

A press launch was conducted on O’Connell Street at around 11:30, with the CEO of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham, CEO of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Michael Nolan, and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, present. The trams then continued to Broadstone.

On Sunday 18 June 2017, the section between Broadstone and Broombridge depot was tested. Speeds were slowly increased as confidence built up. The trams returned to Red Cow on the night on Monday 19 / Tuesday 20 June 2017.

On Monday 3 July 2017, the connection between the Cross City line and the Red Line at O’Connell Street was tested with the same two trams.

Of interest is the amount of social media use in publicising the tests. Various media outlets had the times of testing posted, and the Luas Cross City Facebook and Twitter pages were updated with new photos of the testing throughout the weekend.

Trial Running: Following on from the gauge testing runs, a number of trial runs have been conducted, progressively increasing the speed and capabilities of the line (such as signalling). Green Line trams were also used, with tram 5026 being noted on Thursday 13 July 2017, running from Sandyford to Broombridge at around 23:00.

On Friday 18 August 2017, Green Line tram 5026 conducted the first daylight signalled movement around the new track. Driver training commenced on Monday 11 September.

Trial Running Issues: As expected, a number of minor issues have been found whilst conducting the first few trial runs. These are mainly around public awareness, with various parked vehicles obstructing the tracks. the increase in testing to between 2 and 4 trams daily from 07:00 to 19:00, this problem will be naturally resolved as people acclimatize to the new network.

Utility Cabinets: A number of metal cabinets, which vary in height from 2ft to 5ft, housing electrical cabling and other equipment, have been installed on the southern corner of College Green opposite Trinity College. Particular concerns were raised by city heritage and environmental groups, given Dublin City Council’s plan to turn College Green into a €10 million “world class” pedestrian and cycle plaza. However, a spokeswoman for the Luas Cross City project said all of the cabinets were necessary and could not be relocated or housed underground.

 

REVISED CITY CENTRE TRAFFIC ARRANGEMENTS

Dublin City Council implemented new traffic arrangements for the north and south city centre quays from Sunday 20 August 2017. These changes have been introduced to coincide with the Luas Cross City tram testing and to ensure that these permanent changes have time to bed down before regular day-time tram testing started in September.

All traffic, except for buses, taxis and bicycles, will be prohibited from turning right from Bachelors Walk to O’Connell Bridge. Also on the north quays, there is a new road layout from Ormond Quay Upper to Eden Quay with additional bus lanes and general traffic reduced to one lane. Traffic will be held back by new bus priority traffic signals on Bachelors Walk approximately 100 metres before O’Connell Bridge, to allow buses to move into the right lane to take the turn onto O’Connell Bridge. On the south quays, there is a similar new road layout from Burgh Quay to Essex Quay, again with additional bus lanes and general traffic reduced to one lane.

The ban on general traffic turning right from the north quays on to O’Connell Bridge has been introduced to minimise the potential conflicts between cars etc and the new Luas trams as they travel north across the Liffey on to O’Connell Street. Dublin City Council had previously planned a similar against driving straight ahead from Bachelors Walk to Eden Quay, which would have completely eliminated the possibility of cars etc coming into contact with trams or blocking the Luas tracks, but this aspect of the plan was scrapped last April following pressure from some city businesses. Thus, private motorists and commercial vehicles will be able to access Eden Quay, but with only one traffic lane open to them, and they will also be able to turn left onto O’Connell Street.

LCC Impact on Cyclists: There are fears that busy areas of Dublin city such as Henry Street may become virtually inaccessible to cyclists when Luas Cross City starts operating, according to a National Transport Authority (NTA) draft report.

The NTA has assessed the possibility for cycling along the new Luas corridor and concluded that substantial areas of the city would become largely inaccessible to cyclists unless interventions were made at certain points. It warns that a failure to act on the shortcomings it identifies would have “implications for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians”. The draft report highlights issues such as a lack of space to accommodate both cyclists and trams at certain “pinch points”, as well as acute crossing angles over tracks where cyclists are at risk of getting their wheels caught in the rail grooves.

The report recommends that, where crossing angles are too acute, crossings of about 90 degrees should be provided or else cycling should not be accommodated. It also recommends a segregated cycle track for the northern side of College Street; that filler be put into the rail grooves of the service link track at the O’Connell Street-Abbey Street junction, and special road markings to guide southbound cyclists safely over the rails at the Parnell Street-Cavendish Row-O’Connell Street junction.

In addition, it identifies a number of locations where, “even with mitigation”, cycling cannot be adequately accommodated once the line is in operation. The report recommends that in areas where there is no space to accommodate cycling, alternative bike routes should be developed. It says that if alternative routes are not provided in these cases, then cyclists will probably follow the most direct routes they can find.

This would involve cycling along tram tracks, against traffic on one-way streets or along pedestrianised streets, “with implications for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and for the efficient running of light rail and buses”. It says the absence of the necessary interventions would “render substantial areas of the city largely inaccessible to cycling and would be expected to reduce the attractiveness of cycling as a means of travelling to, through and around the city, with consequences for the wider transport environment in the city”. An NTA spokeswoman said the content of the draft report is under discussion between Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the NTA and Dublin City Council.

Road Closures: In what was described as the “final significant” piece of LCC road construction, an eight-day closure of the South Quays at O’Connell Bridge was planned to take place from 20:00 on Friday 4 August until 06:00 on Saturday 12 August. During the closure, full road reconstruction was carried out at Aston Quay and Burgh Quay, replacing the temporary road surfaces which had been in place during the construction stages of the project. Traffic heading east to west was blocked from entering Aston Quay and was diverted via Dame Street and Christchurch to Merchant’s Quay. The College Green bus gate was opened to all traffic for the duration of the works (travelling Southbound only). The reconstruction was completed 5 days early with the South Quays reopening to traffic on at 18:00 on Monday 7 August.

Track Replacement: A tender was released for the rail replacement for embedded rail sections of the Luas network.

The rail in question, RI59N type, is due for replacement, especially on the outside of curves. The successful bidder will be responsible for all the work undertaken, including traffic management solutions.

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 194, published October 2017

 
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Revised: May 17, 2018 .