Luas: 02 extension has been major success

LUAS bosses said passenger numbers on the latest extension to the former Point Theatre in Dublin had been very strong despite a year-on-year loss of passengers on the tram network.

The new extension, which serves the IFSC and the O2 Theatre, has been open only since the beginning of December but has already proved a major earner.

Despite the opening of the extension six weeks ago, yearly passenger numbers aboard the Luas system declined from 27.35 million in 2008 to just 25.4 million last year.

The Railway Procurement Agency said that while any drop in passenger numbers was "obviously disappointing", the decline had been smaller than for other public transport operators.

The new €95m extension to the O2 has proved a major success, said a spokesman, and the cold spell had also provided a surprising boon for the light rail system.

"It is very early days for the new extension and we do not have any official figures but certainly the early indications are very good," the spokesman said. "There has not been enough time for a pattern to develop but at certain times our numbers have absolutely shot up.

"During the cold spell, passenger numbers increased enormously as the Luas was not affected by the weather in the way other operators were.

"For the events that have been on in the O2, they have been huge days for us and we have also had other passengers using the line for not just the IFSC and Point, but farther afield on the southside of the river.

"Our tracking of the new service has been very positive and if anything there has been a little bit of surprise at how good it has been. Obviously, this could change and we will not know until we have longer-term official figures."

The extension of the line from Busáras to the Docklands added four new stops to the Luas system: Georges Dock, Mayor Square, Spencer Dock and the Point.

The project extended the Red Line 1.5 kilometres from Connolly Station with a total journey time of 52 minutes between the two termini.

Transport minister Noel Dempsey said he believed the new route would add 1.8m passenger journeys to the network every year.