Luas Cross City: A Look back at the Construction

For the past four years I’ve had a little side project in the back of my mind every time I go out shooting street or cityscape shots in Dublin city. As construction of the cross city Luas line got underway, it occurred to me that keeping at least some kind of photographic record of the progress might be interesting. 

This wasn’t really a proper assignment by any means. I didn’t deliberately set out to document the work on the line, but instead, I just decided that whenever I was passing some of the works, if it looked interesting or told a story I would capture it. I wanted to capture a mix of the work itself, and the city life and people interacting with it. After nearly four years now, its grown to quite a collection, and as the new cross city tram finally comes into service today, I thought that I would present this photo essay of the work.

It started with a few cones

It all seemed so simple at the start. The first thing that I noticed were some cones on the street at Stephen’s Green. I had found the pattern they made in the January winter light somewhat interesting (in a way that is probably unique to my own way of seeing things.) After that more and more signs of life in the project began to emerge, and before we knew it, the city centre had transformed into a giant construction site. 

I remember thinking at the time that it was hard to imagine how we would get from the random holes in the ground to the final product, and yet today that’s where we’re at. Looking back over the photos you can now see the progression as the works continued, from the early shoring up of the foundations, and the construction of the RosieHackett bridge to the finishing touches to the stops and the testing of the trams.

As the project progressed I found myself becoming more and more intrigued with it. As an avid rail fan, I was particularly excited when the tracks first started appearing. Then they would disappear again, as the temporary coverings went over some sections to allow the flow of traffic while other areas were constructed. At times it would feel like the progress would inch along, and at other times there would be sudden jumps. I would find that if I hadn’t been in the city in the areas with the tram line work for a few days, I could be surprised to suddenly find a new section of track or a new section of footpath.

I was also very excited on the day the lines were finally joined. I remember getting off at Stephen’s Green and seeing them welding behind the protective covering. 

I somehow managed to be in the right place at the right time for some of the early testing too, as the work neared completion. It was such an unusual sight to see the trams running in places that had previously just been regular roads. I made a special trip around the city for one last photographic safari to capture the Luas running on the new tracks during the final few weeks of testing, when the project was nearly complete, and looking back now, from where it started, what seemed like it would take forever was over and done with in the blink of an eye.

While there was criticism from certain sectors of public opinion, as there is with all such projects here, I am personally really excited now that this is finished. They did a great job. The streets where the lines are running look great, and the new paths are much better than the old ones too. Having this artery in place will be of a great benefit to the commuting public, not to mention tourists and visitors to the city. So kudos to everyone involved and congratulations. 

This is just a small selection of the images that I have shot over the course of this project. The full set can be seen on my stock photo / library site, and they are available to license for news/editorial content.

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