Last updated 13th November 2003

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Dublin Light Rail System

Chronology of events

Based on articles by MJ Walsh in Light Rail & Modern Tramway, [Kilroy 1996], [Kilroy 1998], [Hajducki 1974], press reports and information provided by Light Rail Project Office.

Historical - Luas Development - Future Timetable


First railway opened in Dublin between Westland Row and Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire)
George Francis Train attempts to start horse tramway
1 Feb 1872
Dublin Tramway Company opens horse tramway from city centre to Rathgar. Other lines follow run by Dublin Central Tramways, North Dublin Street Tramways, Dublin Southern Tramways, Blackrock & Kingstown Tramway.
Opening of interurban Dublin and Lucan steam roadside tramway, later extended to Leixlip.
1881- 1893
Dublin United Tramways formed through amalgamations of existing systems.
Opening of Dublin and Blessington roadside steam tramway, later extended to Poulaphouca.
1896 - 1901
Electrification of horse tram routes
Opening of scenic Hill of Howth tramway in NE Dublin by Great Northern Railway.
First proposals to electrify Dublin suburban rail
Dublin trams reach Lucan through take-over and re-gauging of Dublin and Lucan Tramway. Last extension to 61 mile system.
Closure of Dublin and Blessington steam tramway
Formation of Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE), national transport company, including Dublin tramways.
9 July 1949
Closure of last city tram route
31 Dec 1958
Harcourt Street - Bray railway closes ( from 2003 to reopen as Luas line 2).
31 May 1959
Closure of Hill of Howth tramway. Last tramway in Ireland.
Dublin Transportation Study recommends establishment of a rail study.
Dublin Rapid Rail Transit Study (DRRTS) published recommending city-centre underground rail lines connecting with existing lines, disused lines and new spurs to suburbs. An underground central station would be at the hub.
First phase of DRRTS, electrification of existing Howth to Bray line via city, sanctioned.
23 July 1984
Opening of Howth-Bray line as Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART)
Government decide against any further railway electrification in Dublin due to the cost

Luas development

Alternative light rail schemes proposed for Dublin by Ansaldo Engineering and Irish Rail with city-centre street running.
Nov 1991
Dublin Transport Initiative (DTI) set up to address transport problems of city
6 Feb 1992
Minister announces disused Harcourt Street to Bray railway to be used for guided bus or LRT system
DTI recommends construction of a three line light rail system linking Tallaght, Ballymum and Dundrum/Cabinteely to city centre incorporating new alignments and on-street track plus the Harcourt Street line.
Oct 1994
Government requests CIE plan implementation of LRT system in two phases:
12 Dec 1995
Announcement of go-ahead for Phase 1 of system, part funded by EU structural fund.
July 1996
Transport (Dublin Light Rail) Act enacted. Environmental Impact Statement prepared for Phase 1.
Light Rail Order application made for Phase 1.
July 1997
Public enquiry into Phase 1 opened but adjourned pending results of study into underground option promised in election campaign.
Oct 1997
Government commissions evaluation of underground v surface options in city centre from WS Atkins.
April 1998
Atkins Report published recommending the surface Luas as proposed by CIE.
5 May 1998
Environmental Impact Statement Line AGovernment announce decision to proceed with a redesigned and extended Luas network including links to all main railway stations and the airport and including an underground section on one line in city centre.
  • Line A: Tallaght to Connolly Station on surface
  • Line B: Sandyford to Airport largely via disused railway alignments and underground section in city centre
Future extensions to other suburbs also identified.
July 1998
Minister announces task force (Light Rail Advisory Group) to be set up to oversee delivery of system
Application for Light Rail Order made for Line A from Tallaght to Abbey Street in city centre
2 Nov 1998
Public enquiry opens into new Line A plan chaired by Judge Seán O'Leary
14 Dec 1998
Application for Light Rail Order for Line B from St Stephen's Green to Sandyford
22 Dec 1998
Public enquiry gives go-ahead for Line A with minor conditions
13 April 1999
Opening of public enquiry into Line B Phase 1
May 1999
Decision to proceed with Line A made by government
June 1999
Public enquiry gives go-ahead for Line B with minor conditions
22nd July 1999
First report of Light Rail Advisory Action Group says development of system is more-or-less on schedule and rejects idea of financing Luas through a public-private partnership because of the potential delay involved. Also suggests opening of shortened services before completion of full lines.
August 1999
Decision to proceed with Line B by government
19th August 1999
Pre-construction work starts on Line A (moving utility cables etc.)
August - December 1999
Light Rail Project Office Public NoticeExploratory drilling for underground section of Line B
September 1999
Application for Light Rail Order for Line C to Connolly Station
December 1999
Public enquiry into Line C
January 2000
Publication of enquiry into Line C accepts most of route but rejects proposed site of terminus in Harbourmaster Place
February 2000
Consultants report that, from test drilling, they conclude an underground route through the city centre is feasible.
April 2000
Strategic rail reviews for Dublin area by Dublin Transportation Office suggest that Luas Line B should be upgraded to a heavier Metro line, linking to an airport rail line. Also suggests two new surface light rail lines: from Harold's Cross through city centre to Drumcondra and an orbital line through Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan and Blanchardstown to Airport. In a separate move, the government proposed splitting up the Dublin Bus, provincial bus and rail sectors of CIE into separate private companies. Luas Light Rail could be run as a separate entity in this proposal.
May 2000
Independent consultants commissioned to study rail proposals for Dublin.
June 2000
Revised application submitted for Line C has new Connolly Station terminus on site of station ramp.
August 2000
Government accepts proposals for a Metro system
September 2000
Public enquiry into revised Line C application held and accepts new terminus plan.
November 2000
Public consulatation starts into extension of Line B south from Sandyford to Cherrywood.
Authorisation of Line C extending Line A to Connolly Station
December 2000
Government outlines plans to end CIE's monopoly on public transport including the setting up of a Rail Procurement Agency and open competition for franchises to run Luas and Metro system.
January 2001
Competition opened for bids to run Luas system. CIE is not allowed to enter.
February 2001
Government consultation paper proposes setting up an independent Rail Safety Authority which would apply to Luas, Metro and heavy rail.
March 2001
Contarct for construction of first two Luas lines awarded to Ansaldo (Italy) and MVM (Australia) with Ballast Nedam.
21 May 2001
Public launch of first Luas tram at UITP conference in Earls Court, London in a lilac and yellow livery.
July 2001
Completion of Line A depot buildings at Red Cow.
October 2001
Commencement of building depot at Sandyford (Line B)
3 Nov 2001
Public launch of first Luas tram in Merrion Square in Dublin.
University College requests a 1km spur from Luas line 2 to their Belfield campus.
Dec 2001
Bill published setting up Rail Safety Authority.
Rail procurement Agency established to deal with future expansion of Luas, Metro and other rail projects.
January 2002
Cabinet approves Metro line 1 from Airport and Blanchardstwon to Shanganagh with underground city-centre section and incorporating Luas line 2. Metro could open in 2007. Call for tenders for Metro construction issued.

Future timetable (very tentative)

July 2004
Opening of Line B for public service.
August 2004
Opening of Line A/C for public service.
Opening of Metro line 1 to airport.
Completion of 5 Luas lines and 3 Metro lines as set out in Platform for Change.


Walsh, MJ: Light rail for Dublin? part 1, Light Rail and Modern Tramway, 56 (666), 143-150, June 1993.
Walsh, MJ: Light rail for Dublin? part 2, Light Rail and Modern Tramway, 56 (668), 199-205, August 1993.
Hajducki,SM: A Railway Atlas of Ireland, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1974.
Joyce, J.: Trams in Colour since 1945, Blandford, London, 1970.
Kilroy, J.: Irish Trams, Colourpoint, Omagh, 1996.
Kilroy, J.: Trams to the Hill of Howth a pictorial tribute, Colourpoint, Omagh, 1998.
Corcoran, Michael : Dublin's trams: Through Streets Broad & Narrow, Midland, 2001.

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