Dáil Éireann - Volume 613 - 01 February, 2006
Written Answers. - Light Rail Project.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
129. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the likely level of disruption on Luas services due to repair work on the bonding material applied on a certain section of the track; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3308/06]
Mr. Crowe Mr. Crowe
158. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the person who will bear the cost of replacing or otherwise repairing the defective tracks on the Luas. [3321/06]
Mr. Crowe Mr. Crowe
172. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the reason up to 5% of the Luas tracks will have to be replaced; and the person who is responsible for this mistake. [3320/06]
Mr. Morgan Mr. Morgan
179. Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Transport the length of time he has been aware of the problems with the Luas tracks; and the efforts which have been made to find out what went wrong. [3323/06]
Mr. Stagg Mr. Stagg
190. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Transport the discussions he has had with the Railway Procurement Agency regarding the large number of faults found in the foundation of the Luas line; the anticipated disruption to services as a result of the repair of these foundations; the contingency plans he is preparing to offset the anticipated disruption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3121/06]
Mr. Morgan Mr. Morgan
200. Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to recoup the cost of replacing or otherwise repairing the defective Luas tracks from persons responsible for this debacle. [3322/06]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
280. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if the shock absorbent blocks under the Luas rail link have been incorrectly fitted or if the blocks themselves were faulty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3546/06]
Mr. Cullen Mr. Cullen
Mr. Cullen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 129, 158, 172, 179, 190, 200 and 280 together.
In summary, about 5% of the overall Luas track will require remedial work which will be  carried out with minimal interference to the travelling public. There is currently no threat to passenger safety and the remedial work will be carried out at no expense to the Railway Procurement Agency, RPA, or the taxpayer.
Approximately one third of the track on the Luas system uses ‘Edilon Block’ rail supports. This represents 7.7 km of twin track on both Luas lines, out of a total track length of 24 km. The system comprises a concrete rail support block which is supported in a precast concrete tray by an ‘Edilon’ polymer. The benefit of such a system is that it reduces noise and vibration generated by trams. I am informed that Edilon is a reputable manufacturer of various polymers for track systems, having supplied similar products to systems such as Madrid and Bilbao.
In April 2004, prior to the start of Luas passenger services in June of that year, quality control procedures within the RPA revealed that the extent of bonding between the polymer material and adjoining concrete was not as per specification. This was notified by the RPA to the Luas Monitoring Committee, chaired by my Department, in May 2004. At that time, the extent of the problem had not been fully determined but the RPA assured the Department that a track monitoring process had been put in place. The monitoring committee’s professional railway consultants, Parsons Brinckerhoff, drew no particular attention in their reports to this issue at that time. In addition, the then Interim Railway Safety Commission, which operated on a functionally independent basis pending its recent establishment on a statutory footing on 1 January 2006, was aware of the issue and it gave rise to no material safety concerns.
There is currently no threat to passenger safety arising from the polymer bonding issue. The newly established, statutory, Railway Safety Commission has recently confirmed this. Two of the world’s leading track experts reported on the issue to the RPA and to the main Luas contractor in autumn last year. Both carried out extensive on-site and laboratory tests and have confirmed that the system is safe. However, they do recommend ongoing monitoring of the situation and appropriate remedial works in due course.
While the exact cause of the problem has not yet been established, this issue is a contractual matter between the RPA and the relevant contractor and my Department has no role in this matter. The necessary remedial works will fall to be dealt with by the contractor and will be carried out at no expense to RPA or the taxpayer.
No more than about 5% of the overall Luas track will require modification to bring it up to full specification and I understand from the RPA that this work will begin around April-May of this year with minimal interference to the travelling public. The intention is to do most of the necessary work within maintenance engineering hours.
 The media have also reported about other faults on the Luas network. These refer to the normal snag list to be rectified by the contractor. The RPA is satisfied that none of the items on the snag list have any negative impact on the safe and efficient operation of the Luas. These will also be rectified by the contractor at no cost to the RPA or to the taxpayer.
Dáil Éireann 613 Written Answers. Light Rail Project.