Transport report

Luas: A smart, sustainable way to travel

Seamus Egan, Managing Director of Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd. (TDLR) offers an insight into how TDLR as operator and maintainer of Luas, Dublin’s light rail network, plans to optimise the service over the coming years.

Luas is a smart, sustainable way to travel and offers commuters a safe, dependable, frequent, and punctual travel option. The opportunity and, equally, the challenge now for TDLR is to improve performance without causing inconvenience to the customer. Egan says: “There are many ways in which we aim to improve performance.

“The spotlight will primarily be on maintenance, which we are currently transforming. Alongside this, extensive work is taking place on a replacement programme for overhead line equipment, with both programmes being conducted in accordance with Lean Management Work Principles.”

TDLR took over responsibility for Luas maintenance on 1 December 2019, four months before the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the introduction of restrictions.

A key focus for TDLR will be making improvements by transforming how Luas maintenance is delivered.

“We have identified significant opportunity for the evolution of our overall maintenance strategy,” says Egan. “In specially established workshops, we asked employees for their opinions on the current practices within maintenance and what they believed needed to change.”

A data analysis was also conducted which reviewed manpower, facilities, tools, assets, and spare parts. Further workshops reviewed what worked well within current practices and what needed to be improved upon, as well as reviewing the organisational structure, with Transdev Group highlighting structures they use elsewhere which may be beneficial to use in Dublin.

These workshops resulted in a high-level plan with five key pointers that form the basis of the Maintenance Transformation Plan. With the support of Transdev Group, the Luas Maintenance Transformation is now underway. The Maintenance Leadership Team is led by Pierre Gau, Asset Performance Director, and Judicaël Esmieu, Head of Transition.

What does the Maintenance Transformation Plan look like?

• The first factor has already started with the designation of the new depot managers.

• The second step saw the designation of daily planners and fleet coordinators to optimise our strategic planning delivery.

• The third step may involve reviewing rosters with input from all relevant staff members.

• The fourth step involves the expansion of our maintenance capability with newly created teams.

• The fifth step will highlight new internal roles to allow our multiskilled technicians to grow within their teams.

Overhead Line Equipment and Replacement Programme

Alongside this change in Fleet Maintenance are the OHLE works (Overhead Line Equipment and Replacement Programme). There are two parts to this: replacing the older parafil support cables supporting the electric overhead power lines with a newer stainless steel cable type, in addition to rail replacement works.

The overhead line work is being performed by Pod-Trak (an OHLE design and installation company under contract to TII). The plan for 2022 is to complete works over the first two weekends of every month alternating between the red and green lines each month (two weekends on the Red Line then two weekends on the Green Line).

The rail replacement works include replacing curves that demonstrate signs of wear caused by the lateral forces from tram wheels as they turn over time. The replacement works, scheduled for this year, normally involve a weekend shut down in the affected areas with replacement bus services feeding the temporarily closed Luas stops. These asset renewal works are essential for network upgrading and will increase the longevity of the Luas network.

Egan says: “It’s certainly an exciting and challenging time for Luas. All of this is happening amidst a return of customers to Luas, a labour market shortage, inflationary wage demands, supply issues, and continued Covid-related absenteeism.”

Customer experience

“The continued return of customers is to be warmly welcomed,” Egan says. “Every week we see the number of people choosing to travel by tram rising. Recent changes to the fare structure make it even cheaper to travel by public transport.”

The TFI 90 Minute Fare, introduced by the NTA, is making an enormous difference for passengers. It is both convenient and beneficial and by reducing the fare even further in recent times, the whole customer experience has been truly enhanced.

Lean management

“Last year during the height of the pandemic, we also undertook extensive training in lean management across the business from executive level to the shop floor,” Egan says.

TDLR now have a team of lean ambassadors assigned to supporting colleagues and delivering various projects following lean principles.

This has greatly reduced waste, increased productivity, and increased the number of decisions made in real time.

An excellent example of this is the monitoring of sand in the depot silos by newly installed sensors connected to a smartphone app. This ensures full real-time visibility of an essential component of Luas trams.

Egan concludes: “My vision for Transdev is for all our work to be delivered in this way; to be smart, informed, and connected by digital technology in a culture of collaboration and accountability.

“I look forward to the future.”




Transdev Dublin Light Rail Limited
Red Cow, Clondalkin D22 C5P3
T: 01 4614 910

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