Transport Infrastructure Ireland warned about risks of trying to extend life of Luas trams that were over twenty years old

The operators of light rail networks in other countries strongly advised Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) against any attempt to prolong the life of forty Luas trams that have been in service for more than two decades.

TII were told that so-called “life extension” programmes for the vehicles sometimes ended up costing over double what was anticipated.

A review examining the future of the forty original trams from the Luas network said they already had a “very low level of reliability” and that significant investment would be required to bring them back to perfect condition.

It said the ‘design life’ of the trams was thought to have been 30 years but that in other cities where similar vehicles were in use, they had given around 25 years of useful service.

The report said that while ‘life-extending’ the trams might initially appear a good option with potential savings of €20 million, problems of reliability were likely to continue even after they were modernised.

It said “soundings” had been taken from other countries that operate light rail networks with all but two advising against any life-extension programme “if at all possible”.

Transport operators in Boston and Melbourne said they had modernised some of their fleet, but only because they had left it too late to order replacement trams and they effectively had no alternative.

The report said: “They advised that in all cases of life-extension programmes, the final outturn costs compared to the original budgets inclusive of contingencies and risk allocations were always significantly higher, in some cases ‘more than double’.”