Docklands Light Railway - Docklands Light Railway Initial System (1987–1990) - B

Docklands Light Railway - B
Docklands Light Railway Initial System (1987–1990)
The initial system comprised two routes, from Tower Gateway and Stratford to Island Gardens, with a total length of 12.1 kilometres (7.5 mi). It was mainly elevated on disused railway viaducts or new concrete viaducts, and adopted disused surface railway formations between Poplar and Stratford. The trains were fully automated, controlled by computer, and had no driver, a Passenger Service Agent (PSA) on each train, originally referred to as a "Train Captain", was responsible for patrolling the train, checking tickets, making announcements and controlling the doors. PSAs could take control of the train in circumstances including equipment failure and emergencies. A total of eleven units supplied by Linke-Hofmann-Busch comprised the first generation of the Docklands Light Railway rolling stock.
The system was lightweight, with stations designed for trains of only a single articulated vehicle. The three branches totalled 13 km (8.1 mi), had 15 stations, and were connected by a flat triangular junction near Poplar. Services ran from Tower Gateway to Island Gardens and from Stratford to Island Gardens, the north side of the junction was used only for access to the Poplar depot. The stations were mostly of a common design and constructed from standard components. A common feature was a short half-cylindrical glazed blue canopy. All stations were above ground and were generally unstaffed.
Extensions to the City and the Royal Docks (1991–1994)
The initial system had a relatively low capacity, but the Docklands area very quickly developed into a major financial centre and employment zone, increasing traffic. In particular Tower Gateway, at the edge of the City of London, attracted criticism for its poor connections, as it did not connect directly with the nearby Tower Hill tube station or Fenchurch Street railway station. The criticism arose partly because the system usage was higher than expected.
Plans were developed, before the system opened, to extend it to Bank in the west and Beckton in the east. Stations and trains were extended to two-unit length, and the system was expanded into the heart of the City of London to Bank through a tunnel, which opened in 1991 at a cost of £295 million. This extension left Tower Gateway on a stub.
The original trains were not suitable for underground usage due to not meeting the fire safety laws for underground trains. They were operated for a time on the above-ground sections only, and were later sold.
As the Canary Wharf office complex grew, Canary Wharf DLR station was redeveloped from a small wayside station to a large one with six platforms serving three tracks and a large overall roof, fully integrated into the malls below the office towers.
The east of Docklands needed better transport connections to encourage development, and a fourth branch, towards Beckton, was planned, with several route options available. A route from Poplar via Canning Town and the north side of the Royal Docks complex was chosen, and opened in March 1994 at a cost of £280 million.
Initially it was thought the line was likely to be underutilised, due to the sparse development in the area and for this reason two additional stations at Thames Wharf (not to be confused with the later Thames Wharf proposal on the Woolwich branch) and Connaught were omitted. As part of this extension, one side of the original flat triangular junction was replaced by a grade-separated junction west of Poplar. Poplar was rebuilt to give cross-platform interchange between the Stratford and Beckton lines, with a new grade-separated junction built east of the station at the divergence of the Stratford and Beckton lines. As part of the extension, a new, larger, depot was built at Beckton.
Docklands Light Railway Extension to Greenwich & Lewisham (1996–1999)
Early on, Lewisham London Borough Council commissioned a feasibility study into extending the system under the River Thames. This led the council to advocate an extension via Greenwich and Deptford, terminating at Lewisham railway station. The ambitions of the operators were supported by politicians in Parliament, including the future Labour Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, and Lord Whitty, and by 1996 construction work had begun.
The Lewisham extension opened on 20 November 1999, at a cost of £200 million funded mostly by the private sector as a Private finance initiative. It left the Island Gardens route south of the Crossharbour turn-back sidings, and dropped gently to Mudchute, where a street-level station replaced the high-level one on the former London & Blackwall Railway viaduct. The line then entered a tunnel, following the route of the viaduct to a shallow subsurface station at Island Gardens, accessible by stairs or a lift.
It crossed under the Thames to Cutty Sark in the centre of Greenwich, and surfaced at Greenwich railway station, with cross-platform interchange between the northbound track and the London-bound main line. The line snaked on a concrete viaduct to Deptford Bridge, before descending to Elverson Road at street level, close to Lewisham town centre, terminating in two platforms between and below the main-line platforms at Lewisham railway station, with buses stopping outside the station. The extension quickly proved profitable.
Docklands Light Railway Extensions to London City Airport & Woolwich (2004–2009)
An extension to London City Airport from the existing Beckton branch was explored in the mid-90s, at first via travelator from Royal Albert, and then in 1998 via a proposed lift-bridge over the dock with an intermediate station at West Silvertown. The government initially supported this proposal, and in 1999 was developed to the route known today with a further extension to King George V. At this time, the further route to Woolwich Arsenal was developed with an intermediate station at Woolwich Reach, but was viewed as a longer term aspiration. The Woolwich Reach station (on the south bank of the Thames, at the site of the Marlborough Road ventilation and escape shaft), was descoped in 2000.
The extension was aided by a five-year programme of investment for public transport across London that was unveiled by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone on 12 October 2004. On 2 December 2005, an eastward branch along the approximate route of the former Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway on the southern side of the Royal Docks complex opened from Canning Town to King George V via London City Airport.
A further extension from King George V to Woolwich Arsenal opened on 10 January 2009, providing interchange with the North Kent main line, close to the stop on the Elizabeth line to Abbey Wood via West India and Royal Docks, met by Private Finance Initiative funding. Construction began in June 2005, the same month that the contracts were finalised, and the tunnels were completed on 23 July 2007, and formally opened by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London on 12 January 2009. Following completion, the project was shortlisted for the 2009 Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award.
The original Tower Gateway station was closed in mid-2008 for complete reconstruction. The two terminal tracks either side of a narrow island platform were replaced by a single track between two platforms, one for arriving passengers and the other for departing (Spanish solution). It reopened on 2 March 2009.
As part of an upgrade to allow three-car trains, strengthening work was necessary at the Delta Junction north of West India Quay. It was decided to include this in a plan for further grade separation to eliminate the conflict between services to Stratford and from Bank. A new timetable was introduced, with improved frequencies at peak hours. The new grade-separated route from Bank to Canary Wharf is used throughout the day, bypassing West India Quay station until mid-evening. Work on this project proceeded concurrently with the three-car upgrade work and the 'diveunder' (sometimes referred to as a flyunder but DLR have coined the term in this instance 'diveunder'), and the improved timetable came into use on 24 August 2009.
Docklands Light Railway Upgrade to Three-Car Trains (2007–2011)
With the development of the eastern Docklands as part of the Thames Gateway initiative and London's staging of the 2012 Summer Olympics, several extensions and enhancements were undertaken.
Capacity was increased by upgrading for trains with three cars, each with four doors per side. The alternative of more frequent trains was rejected as the signalling changes needed would have cost no less than upgrading to longer trains and with fewer benefits.
The railway had been built for single-car operation, and the upgrade required both strengthening viaducts to take heavier trains and lengthening many platforms. The extra capacity was useful for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which increased the use of London's transport network. The main contractor for the expansion and alteration works was Taylor Woodrow.
Elverson Road, Royal Albert, Gallions Reach and Cutty Sark have not been extended for three-car trains, such extension may be impossible in some cases. Selective door operation is used, with emergency walkways in case a door fails to remain shut. Cutty Sark station is underground, and both costs and the risk to nearby historic buildings prevent platform extension. The tunnel has an emergency walkway. Additional work beyond that needed to take the three-car trains was also carried out at some stations. This included replacing canopies with more substantial ones along the full platform length. A new South Quay station has been built 200 metres (660 ft) east of the former location as nearby curves precluded lengthening. Mudchute now has a third platform.
For this upgrade DLR purchased an additional 31 cars compatible with existing rolling stock. The works were originally planned as three phases: Bank-Lewisham, Poplar-Stratford, and the Beckton branch. The original £200 million contract was awarded on 3 May 2007.
Work started in 2007 and Bank-Lewisham was originally due to be completed in 2009. However, the work programme for the first two phases was merged and the infrastructure work was completed by the end of January 2010. The Lewisham-Bank route now runs three-car trains exclusively. They started running on the Beckton branch on 9 May 2011. Stratford to Lewisham and Bank to Woolwich Arsenal services sometimes operate as three-car trains, other routes run the longer trains when required.
Docklands Light Railway Extension to Stratford International (2011)
In addition to the three-car station extensions, partly funded from the 2012 Olympics budget, a line was opened from Canning Town to Stratford and Stratford International railway station along the former North London Line of the national railway system, with additional stations. It parallels the London Underground Jubilee line for much of its length.
The extension to Stratford International, taking over the North London Line from Canning Town to Stratford, links the Docklands area with domestic high-speed services on High Speed 1. It was an important part of transport improvements for the 2012 Olympic Games, much of which were held on a site adjoining Stratford International.
The first contract for construction work was awarded on 10 January 2007 and construction started in mid-2007. Originally scheduled to open in mid-2010, the line opened on 31 August 2011. On 11 November 2015 the Mayor of London announced that all stations on this line would be rezoned from zone 3 to zone 2/3.
New stations were Canning Town, Star Lane, West Ham, Abbey Road, Stratford High Street and Stratford International. Of these, Canning Town, West Ham and Stratford are former North London Line stations, and Stratford High Street was built on the site of Stratford Market railway station.
From Canning Town to Stratford the extension runs parallel to the Jubilee line of the London Underground. As well as providing interchange with the adjacent Jubilee line stations, there are additional DLR stations at Star Lane, Abbey Road and Stratford High Street.
At Stratford new platforms were built for the North London Line at the northern end of the station. The old platforms (formerly 1 and 2) adjacent to the Jubilee line were rebuilt for the DLR, renumbered 16 (towards Stratford International) and 17 (towards Beckton/Woolwich Arsenal). Interchange between the Stratford International branch and DLR trains via Poplar is possible although the platforms are widely separated and at different levels. There is no physical connection between the two branches.
Docklands Light Railway Relocation of Pudding Mill Lane Station (2014)
One of the tunnel portals for Elizabeth line is on the original site of Pudding Mill Lane station. As a consequence, work was carried out to divert the DLR between City Mill River and the River Lea onto a new viaduct further south. This included a replacement station, which opened on 28 April 2014.
The former station stood on the only significant section of single track on the system, between Bow Church and Stratford. The opportunity was taken to double the track in three stages, to improve capacity. There was originally no provision for works beyond the realigned section in the Crossrail Act.
Docklands Light Railway Overview
Docklands Light Railway Owner: Docklands Light Railway Ltd, part of Transport for London
Docklands Light Railway Area Served: London
Docklands Light Railway Locale: Greater London
Docklands Light Railway Transit Type: Light metro
Docklands Light Railway Number of Lines: 7
Docklands Light Railway Number of Stations: 45
Docklands Light Railway Daily Ridership: 340,000 (daily average, DfT 2017)
Docklands Light Railway Annual Ridership: 92.3 million (2022/23)
Docklands Light Railway Increase: 19.6%
Docklands Light Railway Headquarters: Endeavour Square, E20
Docklands Light Railway Operation:
Began operation 31 August 1987, 36 years ago
Docklands Light Railway Operator(s): KeolisAmey Docklands Limited (Keolis 70%, Amey 30%)
Docklands Light Railway Number of Vehicles: 149
Docklands Light Railway Train Length: 2 or 3 vehicles per trainset
Headway 3–5 minutes
Docklands Light Railway System Length: 38 km (24 mi)
Docklands Light Railway No. of Tracks: 2
Docklands Light Railway Track Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Docklands Light Railway Minimum Radius of Curvature: 125 ft (38 m)
Docklands Light Railway Electrification: 750 V DC third rail (bottom contact)
Top Speed:
50 mph (80 km/h) (Maximum Speed Capable)
40 mph (64 km/h) (Regular Operational Speed)
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