DLR to improve services from Wharf to Stratford

By Rob Virtue on February 21, 2013 3:15 PM |


More off-peak trains, more staff at stations and an increased frequency between Canary Wharf and Stratford are the new priorities of Docklands Light Railway bosses.

The new strategy comes after the success of the Olympics and its legacy of infrastructure improvements.

It is a boom period which has led head of development and planning Robert Niven to conclude that the DLR is now "much more than just a light railway system".

The build-up to the Olympics saw a host of improvements to the service with an £80million investment by the Olympic Delivery Authority helping to build new routes, longer trains and a smoother service.

Mr Niven said the emphasis was now on providing a sure service ahead of the arrival of Crossrail in 2018.

While new lines are not on the short-term agenda, improvements to the link from Canary Wharf and Stratford have got the go-ahead with the whole of that line going to double track by 2018. Customers should notice the service benefits from the first phase completion in 2014.

"We're always surprised the route to Stratford is so busy with a Jubilee connection there but it is," said Mr Niven.

"It's a growth area for housing especially with the conversion of the Athletes Village so we're expecting more commuters.

"That's a key route and something we've wanted to provide more capacity on for some time."

The majority of work can also be done without closures. Mr Niven said: "Once the reconfiguration of the track is complete trains could run every two minutes at peak times."

Over the coming years there will also be an improved frequency at off-peak hours across the entire network.

"We'll see leisure demand increasing in the next five years with different tourist attractions springing up in east London, such as museums, the Olympic Park opening next year and events in the stadium."


Last week Serco's contract to run the DLR was extended by 18 months but in mid-2014 a new franchise will be put up for tender with improvements to off-peak services likely to figure strongly. Government support would be needed to boost rush-hour scheduling.

Without that increase, Mr Niven admitted the DLR would be stretched until Crossrail in 2018 - especially with the growth of development on the Isle of Dogs.


"We run at maximum during peak times," he said. "We're keen on investment in a bigger fleet but we need funding. The next five years are a challenge.

"We have the Jubilee line with 30 trains an hour and Docklands Light Railway maxed during the peak period. There's also the Overground service to Clapham now. We're going to see more pressure on the network in the next five years until Crossrail arrives.

"London is an island compared to the overall economy when you consider increased passenger demand, employment, housing, population growth. The data coming from Tower Hamlets is a story in itself, at the level it's continuing to grow."

Without funding, DLR is still looking at ways to manage congestion. Mr Niven believes putting more staff at stations will help.

"Most stations are unstaffed but, just like during the Olympics, we can make better use of capacity and make sure trains are running on time," he said.

"There is an increase in people coming to London for the first time. The experience they have when they arrive is important. That's a lesson from the Games.

"Expect to see a lot of change in how we deal with the customer experience. It's something TfL is looking to improve and it will be looked at as part of the new DLR franchise."