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After four-and-a-half years of construction, major road works and traffic disruption, the €370 million Luas Cross City service linking Dublin’s north and southsides finally starts operations at 2pm on Saturday from Stephen’s Green.
All road users have been warned to familiarise themselves with and be aware of the new line and to follow road signs.
Luas operators Transdev expect more than 10 million passenger journeys in the first year of operation of the service and the journey from end to end is expected to take 21 minutes.
At peak times the service will operate every three to six minutes on part of the line that loops around the eight stop city centre part of the track. The service links the Luas red and green lines and at Broombridge, the Luas connects to the Maynooth commuter line. That service will operate every 10 to 15 minutes at peak times.
There are a number of positives for the service. In its environmental impact assessment Transdev maintained there would be a 17 per cent drop in CO2 emissions in the city centre as more people get out of their cars and onto the Luas.
But there are road safety concerns for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as the new service gets under way in a city centre where traffic flow and lanes have been greatly altered since construction began to allow for the Luas track lines.
A number of driver health and safety representatives, members of Siptu, have claimed they have not received enough training on the line.
They say they were due to have 17 hours’ training on the line from St Stephen’s Green to Broombridge, but received just six. They say the new line is far more complex, with more hazards and busy junctions than the green and red lines and warn of the possibility of accidents in coming weeks as drivers get used to it.
Transdev said that all drivers were ready to operate the line but one health and safety rep said: “The reality is that the majority of drivers are not ready because they have only received six hours’ live driving experience on the new route.
“This in my opinion is totally insufficient and poses a risk to public safety. Two-thirds of the 200 drivers have not driven a tram at night as their training was designed to suit trainers in daylight hours only.”
A spokeswoman for Transdev said any driver that requested more training would get it. She said each had received a minimum of 17 hours’ training on the new line, though did not specify how many of these hours were in simulators and how many on the actual lines.
“On launch day, December 9th, we will have completed close to 2,000 return trips on the line. A small number of drivers asked for extra training and training and support is being facilitated for all who asked,” she said.