To ask the Minister for Transport if he has received a report from the LUAS project team on the safety of the LUAS lines; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Gay Mitchell. (Nominated by: Denis Naughten).
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 7th July, 2004.
Ref No: 20305/04
Answered by the Minister for Transport - Séamus Brennan
I refer the Deputy to my response to his Parliamentary Question No. 58 of 4 May 2004.
The IRSC issued a letter of approval on 28th June, 2004 for commencement of passenger services on the St. Stephen's Green to Sandyford Luas line. The letter set out certain conditions for passenger service operations, including a number of standard provisions normal for such a large and complex project.
Passenger services commenced on this line on 30 June, 2004 and the system has operated satisfactorily since then. The primary duty of care from a safety perspective lies with the operator- Connex. The IRSC will continue to meet regularly with Connex to review the operation from a safety perspective.
There is also an onus on road users and pedestrians to take due care along the LUAS route. The National Safety Council and I have both called on road users and pedestrians in recent days to exercise due care particularly in the early period of the operation of the LUAS system.
Response to Parliamentary Question No. 58 of 4 May 2004
Section 51 of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001 provides that the LUAS system may not be opened for testing and commissioning or for passenger services until it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of an inspector appointed by the Minister under the Regulation of Railway Act, 1871 (that is, my Department's Railway Inspecting Officers) that the infrastructure and rolling stock is safe and suitable and that the safety management systems will be appropriate to ensure safe operation of the railway.
The Railway Procurement Agency and Connex have both submitted draft safety cases to the Railway Inspecting Officers. There is currently no legal requirement to submit these documents. That requirement is contained in the Railway Safety Bill, which is not yet law. However, the parties concerned agreed to adopt the safety case approach as the means by which the RPA and Connex will satisfy the requirements of Railway Inspecting Officers under the 2001 Act.
A safety case is a document which describes how a railway undertaking manages safety in all of its activities. The safety case submitted by the Railway Procurement Agency is being used to demonstrate the safety of the infrastructure and rolling stock, while the Connex safety case relates to the safety management systems to be used to ensure safety of tram movements and passenger services.
The Railway Inspecting Officers are in regular contact with the RPA and Connex regarding the draft safety cases and have given phased approvals to the testing and commissioning of various elements of the LUAS system. Such phased approvals will continue and full revenue service can only commence once the relevant approval under section 51 of the 2001 Act has been given.