From today's IT:
DUBLIN CITY Council is opposing a plan to use overhead power cables on the proposed cross-city Luas line because of their detrimental effect on the cityâ€™s â€œexceptionalâ€ and â€œexquisiteâ€ architecture.
The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) wants to use the same overhead power supply system on the new line, which will link the Sandyford and Tallaght lines before continuing on to Broombridge in Cabra, as it does on the existing lines.
However, the council said the proposal was not acceptable in the city centre. The route the Luas will take â€“ from St Stephenâ€™s Green, down Dawson Street, through College Green, across Oâ€™Connell Bridge, and up Oâ€™Connell Street to Parnell Square â€“ passes the cityâ€™s most significant public buildings, it said.
College Green in particular consisted of a â€œprogression of exceptional classical buildingsâ€, including the â€œexquisiteâ€ portico of the Bank of Ireland, which should not be compromised by cables and wires. Comparisons made by the RPA in relation to the wiring used by early 20th century trams in the city centre were â€œnot an argument of weightâ€ in the context of best-practice building conservation, the council said.
The RPA should provide an alternative wire-free system, the council argued. It said it was in favour of the overall project but it urged An Bord PleanÃ¡la to make it a condition of the railway order that St Stephenâ€™s Green to Parnell Square be a wire-free zone.
The councilâ€™s position is supported by the Dublin Civic Trust, which submitted that the overhead lines would have a damaging impact on â€œlarge swathes of the ceremonial core of the cityâ€. The Irish Georgian Society is also against the use of overhead lines.
The RPA June applied to An Bord PleanÃ¡la last for a railway order to construct the new line. A date for a public hearing on the project is expected to be announced soon by the planning board.
The RPA said it investigated a wire-free option that has been used on trams in Bordeaux in France since 2003. The system uses a third rail embedded in the road between the tram tracks which becomes energised as it hits connectors underneath the tram, but switches off when the tram passes.
However, the RPA said the technology was still new and there were concerns over its robustness, reliability and safety; and it was â€œsubstantiallyâ€ more expensive.
A second bone of contention for the council is that the RPAâ€™s plans to run the Luas along the central plaza of Oâ€™Connell Street. The council had undertaken a major improvement scheme of the street in recent years and the widened median was the central element of the design. The proposed alignment would â€œdetrimentally affect the integrity of the newly completed scheme,â€ the council said, and should not be permitted.
At last some comment from the City Council regarding Line BDX. However this goes to show that contrary to what the RPA say in their submission, they have not been in sufficient agreement with DCC on the design and layout of the tram line and its impact on the wider city streetscapes.