As the Deputy is aware, the National Transport Authority, NTA, has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the greater Dublin area, GDA, including the light rail network.
I have been advised by the NTA that passenger numbers on the Luas green line have increased by over 24% since the commencement of Luas cross city last December. While it is welcomed that so many new customers are using the extended green line, it has meant that, at certain times of the day, some trams are operating at capacity. The Luas cross city project included the purchase of seven additional new trams which, at 55 m length, have a higher passenger capacity than existing trams, carrying up to 379 passengers per tram and increasing overall capacity on the green line. Two of these additional trams very recently came into service. Another is currently in Ireland undergoing final testing and commissioning and is expected to go into passenger service at the start of March. The remaining four trams, following the necessary final testing and commissioning, will be put into service progressively over the following ten weeks. Once all seven new trams are fully deployed they, together with the existing fleet, will provide additional passenger capacity on the green line in the short-term.
The NTA has also advised of planned changes to the Luas green line timetable in May to improve the frequency of service between Broombridge and Brides Glen, particularly in the morning and evening peak periods on the green and red lines.
Into the future, passenger numbers are expected to increase further on the green Line over the next few years, and the green line capacity enhancement project - which was recently approved by Government - is the next step in the medium term to further expand capacity, especially at peak hours, so as to cater for future demands along the line. The project features in the NTA’s published GDA Strategy. It involves the lengthening of the 26 existing green line trams from 43 m to 55 m and the purchase of a further 8 new 55 metre-long trams which will greatly increase the passenger capacity of the fleet to meet future passenger demand. The capacity increases at peak periods which will be provided by the project will assist in reducing crowding on the green line and enhance accessibility for mobility and sensory impaired users during these periods. A necessary complementary investment project, known as the green line infrastructure upgrade - an investment project to lengthen the platforms at the existing green line stations - was completed towards the end of last year and enables the use of the new, longer trams.