Check against delivery
Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here at the National College of Ireland to launch this new Luas Line to the Docklands - the first extension to Luas since services commenced in 2004.
Luas Docklands (Line C1) is one of the key projects within the Government’s Transport 21 programme and it certainly gives me great pleasure to see a project move through the various stages from feasibility study through public consultation, design, construction, testing and finally, the actual operation of services, which of course is what it’s all about!
This new extension builds on the investment previously made by the Government and the European Union in the very successful Red Line from Tallaght. It will add approximately 1.8 million passenger journeys per annum to the Luas network. The new line will operate a full passenger service tomorrow morning from 05.30 am. I am pleased to note that the project has been implemented within the approved budget and programme.
There are two other Luas extensions under construction at the moment. I understand that excellent progress is being made in building the Luas extension from Sandyford to Cherrywood, which is scheduled to begin passenger service in the second half of next year.
Construction of the new Luas line from Belgard to Citywest is also proceeding well with passenger services scheduled for 2011.
These projects, like Luas Docklands, are being implemented in partnership with the relevant local authorities and with private sector developers.
Docklands is one of the most exciting and vibrant parts of the city. The area contributes significantly to the national and regional economy as the home of the financial services sector. In this context, the area will have a key role to play to the regeneration of the city and, indeed, of the economy generally. However, increasingly the area is more than just a financial centre. It continues to develop as a commercial, retail and residential centre as well.
The area boasts the National College of Ireland and the revamped O2 Theatre. In the near future both the new National Conference Centre at Spencer Dock and the new Point Village will open their doors. These developments combined with the enhanced transport links to be provided both by this new Luas line and the new Samuel Beckett Bridge show the enormous potential of the area. It is well placed to develop further as an economic and social centre at the heart of Dublin and to play a key role in the drive to economic recovery.
This new Luas line enhances the accessibility of the Docklands area and helps to better integrate it with the wider Dublin region. Total journey time on the extended Luas Red Line from The Point to Tallaght will be 52 minutes. Trams will run from The Point to Tallaght every 6.5 minutes at peak times and every 8 minutes at all other times on weekdays.
I would like to commend all who have contributed to the creation of this element of Dublin’s public transport infrastructure, which will serve generations to come.
I was very pleased to note that already the new Luas Spencer Dock Bridge has won an award for Best Structural Design at the prestigious Leading European Architects Forum (LEAF) Awards in Berlin earlier this year.
Transport users are now seeing further tangible benefits from the Government’s commitment to investment in public transport. Continuation of that investment, as part of our strategy for economic recovery, will ensure that when the economy returns to growth, the infrastructure deficit that had constrained business and economic competitiveness and the quality of life for commuters in the past, will be less a feature of the urban landscape.