- a guide to transport projects in london Modes of transport

DLR DLR Capacity Enhancement

The Bank to Lewisham route will be upgraded to take 3-unit trains instead of the current 2-unit trains, involving viaduct strengthening and platform extensions. A similar upgrade for the Stratford & Beckton routes will follow.

The DLR system currently carries some 43m passengers per year; by 2006 this figure is expected to rise to 60m, and to 80m by 2009, with the majority concentrated on the core Bank-Lewisham route, with new employment being created around Canary Wharf and South Quay.

The next capacity increases scheduled for public transport to the Docklands are the Jubilee Line Upgrade and Crossrail; although the Jubilee line upgrade (provision of an extra car on every train) is expected to be complete by 2006, providing a 45% capacity increase, it is not considered enough to cater for increased demand from the areas not served by the JLE. Crossrail cannot be completed until 2013 at the very earliest.

Phase 1: West & South Routes

The first (agreed) phase of this DLR upgrade will extend all trains from 2 to 3 units (each unit or car is an articulated vehicle which can run independently or coupled together) on the Bank-Lewisham route. This requires a large number of platform extensions, plus viaduct strengthening on all elevated sections which were designed to carry 2 unit trains. Trains between Bank and Lewisham would consist of three articulated units, achieving a 50% capacity increase.

Phase 2: North & East Routes

The Poplar - Beckton and Stratford - Canary Wharf branches are also proposed for an upgrade to three-car operation by 2010. This will involve the extension of platforms at all stations on these routes except Canning Town, Beckton Park and Cyprus (which all already have long platforms), Poplar (which will be part of the Phase 1 enhancement), Stratford (which will be extended as part of its own upgrade, Royal Victoria (which will be extended as part of the Stratford International extension) and Langdon Park (which will be built with long platforms).

North Quay Junction remodelling

To allow new and enhanced services to operate, the DLR's most important junction - North Quay Junction - will be remodelled. A new grade-separated track linking the eastbound line from Westferry to the southbound line to Canary Wharf will dive under the existing junction, replacing the existing junction where trains from Westferry to Canary Wharf block trains from Canary Wharf to Poplar.

The alignment of this new track means that services running from Westferry to Canary Wharf would not call at West India Quay. Although a connection will still exist between the track from Westferry and the remaining southbound track through West India Quay, the connection would not be used in normal operation.

This is not considered to be a great loss as West India Quay is so close to Canary Wharf and Poplar stations - in fact, given the journey time savings from Bank to the Wharf, there is likely to be a net benefit. Northbound trains leaving Canary Wharf for Westferry will still call at West India Quay.

Other stations

Stations on the City Airport and Woolwich branch are already capable of handling three-car trains.

Other options considered

Other possibilites have been considered but rejected for various reasons; these include:

  • Four-unit trains
    disruptive infrastructure works
  • Double-decker trains
    weight would require much bridge-strengthening
  • Curtailed through services to allow higher capacity at junctions
    highly inconvenient to passengers
  • Doubling of Bow Church-Stratford single line with remodelling of North Quay and Royal Mint Street junctions
    similar to cost to 3-unit trains with only 25% capacity increase (although note that the North Quay remodelling WILL take place as part of Phase 2)
  • Removal of some seats
    Highly unpopular without large capacity gains

90% of consultation respondents were in favour of the 3-car project.

Platform extensions

Only 4 stations on the route currently have platforms long enough to accept 3-unit trains. These are Bank, Canary Wharf, Heron Quays (recently rebuilt) and Island Gardens.

The cost of extending platforms at Cutty Sark, in a deep-bore tunnel, is prohibitive; instead selective door opening will be used.

All other stations on the route, plus Tower Gateway and Poplar, will receive platform extensions.

Tower Gateway
Narrow platform at Tower Gateway
The narrow island platform at Tower Gateway, due to be replaced by a wider single-faced platform by filling in the track on the right

At Tower Gateway, overcrowding is rendering the island platform layout unsafe, and longer platforms would exacerbate this situation. The proposal is to fill in the southern platform (creating a single, wide platform onto the northern track) and extend the northern platform eastwards.

A new eastern entrance will be added (to replace the current Mansell Street entrance which must be removed for the extension). This work will take 4-6 months, and services will be maintained as far as possible.

Track alterations will take place outside the station to allow more intensive use of a single platform. These will allow 15tph to turn at the station if required (i.e. if Bank is closed for whatever reason); remaining trains would have to turn at Shadwell. A holding track will be constructed outside the station for failed trains.

Shadwell to Westferry & Poplar

These stations would receive eastwards platform extensions. At Shadwell, the existing crossover to the east of the station would be relocated to make way for the platforme extensions. At Limehouse (with an extension of 32m), the existing staircases would be widened, and new staircases and lifts would be added at the eastern end next to Radcliffe Lane. At Westferry, new staircases and lifts would be added on the eastern side of Westferry Road.

West India Quay, Crossharbour & Mudchute

West India Quay would have its platforms extended southwards (towards Canary Wharf). Crossharbour would be extended north and southwards, and Mudchute would be extended northwards.

South Quay

South Quay cannot have its platform extended since there are tight curves at each end of the station. It will have to be moved 200m eastwards to a new location on the bridge over the Millwall Cut. Entrances will be on both sides of the water, and the existing Wilkinson footbridge from the Britannia hotel to Heron Quays station should compensate for the loss of the existing location of South Quays station.

TfL have received Section 106 financial contributions (legally required from developers to mitigate transport impacts of their developments) towards South Quay station for the new nearby "Millennium Quarter" development.

The work will take 12 months and will deliver a station with a capacity of 4,000 passengers per hour.

Cutty Sark

After agreement with Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate (HMRI), trains will stop at Cutty Sark's shorter platforms with the end doors closed (Selective Door Opening). Extending platforms here would cost 30m, require closure of this part of the railway and would potentially need demolition of buildings in a conservation area.

Greenwich to Lewisham

Greenwich would be extended to the west. Deptford Bridge would be extended to the south by 30m, with new canopies and staircases installed. Elverson Road's southbound platform would be extended southwards (16m), and the northbound both north (8m) and south (8m), with new canopies provided. Lewisham would be extended northwards by 24m, and the existing staircase modified.

Depot expansion

The Gallions Reach depot will need to be extended to accommodate 3-car trains.


(newest first)
DLR longer train inquiry ends successfully
2005-04-06 12:07:20

A public inquiry into the plan to run longer trains on the Docklands Light Railway between Bank and Lewisham ended successfully, having received 101 letters of support and 69 objections - only 6 of which were sustained after the inquiry.

Links & Sources

  1. DLR: Capacity Enhancement Project
  2. Lewisham Council: Minutes of meeting including assessment of DLR capacity enhancement
  3. Tower Hamlets Council: DLR 3-car project TWA applications
  4. London Transport Users' Committee: Minutes of meeting including info on DLR capacity enhancement [PDF]

Related Projects [list all projects | about | links of interest]