Docklands Light Railway

From Academic Kids

Lines of the
London Underground
  East London
  Hammersmith & City
  Waterloo & City
  Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is a light-rail public transport metro for the redeveloped Docklands area of eastern London, England. The DLR is separate from the London Underground, having separate tracks and rolling stock. However, the the two systems are integrated wherever they meet, and share a single ticketing system. The DLR appears on the London Underground's Tube map.

Although the trains are driven by computers and have no drivers, a passenger service agent (PSA) on every train is responsible for patrolling the train, checking tickets, making announcements, and controlling the doors. PSAs can drive trains in emergencies.

Operation and maintenance of the DLR has been a private franchise since 1992. The current franchise, due to expire in 2006, belongs to Serco Docklands Ltd, a company jointly formed by Serco and the former DLR management team.



Missing image
A geographically-accurate map of the Docklands Light Railway.


Tower Gateway station was the DLR's original link to central London.
Tower Gateway station was the DLR's original link to central London.

Initial system

The Docklands Light Railway was conceived in the late 1980s by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) to aid the regeneration of the docks of East London, which had been derelict since the 1960s. As originally conceived, the system was to be entirely above ground and consist of three branches, with their termini at Tower Gateway, Stratford, and Island Gardens DLR station.

The initial idea was a system using modern tram-derived light-rail vehicles, with overhead current collection, manual driving, and some elements of street level running. The LDDC, however, wanted to showcase cutting-edge technology and disliked the overhead wires, and so chose an automatically driven system with third-rail current collection, but still using tram-derived vehicles. Most of the tracks were elevated, either on new lightweight concrete viaduct structures or on disused railway viaducts, with some use of disused surface level railway right of way. The system was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 31 July 1987.

As opened the system was still lightweight, with stations and trains only a single articulated vehicle long. The three branches together totalled 13 km [1] (, and were connected by a flat triangular junction near Poplar, and services were operated between all three terminals.

First extensions

Missing image
The view from Tower Gateway looking east shows Fenchurch Street approach tracks to the left, the original DLR line in the centre, and DLR train emerging from the tunnel to Bank to the right.

The initial system proved too lightweight for its job, as the Dockland area developed rapidly into a major financial centre and employment zone. Additionally the Tower Gateway terminus, situated as it is at the very edge of the City of London financial district attracted criticism for its poor connections.

In response to this, all stations and trains were extended to two-car lengths, and the system extended into the heart of the City of London with a tunnelled extension into Bank underground station, which opened in 1991. This extension diverged from the initial western branch, leaving Tower Gateway station on a limb. It also rendered the initial car fleet obsolete, as their construction was not suitable for use underground (see Rolling Stock, below).

At the same time, the unserved areas in the east of the Docklands area needed better transport connections to encourage development there. This resulted in a fourth branch being constructed from Poplar via Canning Town transport interchange to Beckton, running along the north side of the Royal Docks complex. As part of this extension, one side of the original flat triangular junction was replaced with a grade separated junction west of Poplar, and a new grade separated junction was created at the divergence of the Stratford and Beckton lines east of Poplar. Poplar station was rebuilt to provide cross-platform interchange between the Stratford and Beckton lines.

The growth of the Canary Wharf office complex required the redevelopment of Canary Wharf DLR station from a small wayside station, to a large complex with six platforms serving three rail tracks, within a large overall roof and fully integrated into the malls below the office towers.

Once Canary Wharf became a major financial employment centre, demands came to improve transport connections with residential areas to the south-east of London. This was met by an extension of the DLR from Island Gardens in tunnel under the River Thames to Greenwich and then on a new elevated route paralleling Deptford Creek to an interchange at the major rail junction of Lewisham. Besides providing two new rail interchanges (at Greenwich and Lewisham), this branch also serves the tourist area of Greenwich with a new station at Cutty Sark.

Current system

Missing image
A Docklands Light Railway train enters the Canary Wharf interchange station from the south.

The Docklands Light Railway now includes 27 km of track [2] ( There are four branches: to Lewisham in the south, Stratford in the north, Beckton in the east and another leading into Central London (splitting to serve two nearby termini, Bank and Tower Gateway). Although the systems allows many different combinations of routings, at present the following three routes are operated in normal service:

  • Bank to Lewisham
  • Tower Gateway to Beckton
  • Stratford to Lewisham

Some trains on the Stratford line turn back at Crossharbour and London Arena rather than continuing to Lewisham.

The northern and southern branches terminate at the National Rail (mainline) stations at Stratford and Lewisham respectively. Other direct interchanges between National Rail and the DLR are at Limehouse, Canning Town and Greenwich.

There are no limited-stop trains on the DLR, so each train serves every stop along its route.

Future Developments

With the rapid development of the eastern Docklands as part of the "Thames Gateway" initiative and London's current bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, four extensions are either under construction or being planned.

  • A new eastbound branch from Canning Town to North Woolwich, which will serve London City Airport, is under construction. This will run along the southern side of the Royal Docks complex (the Beckton branch runs along the north side). The extension is projected to open in late 2005.
  • A further extension from North Woolwich to Woolwich Arsenal, requiring a second DLR tunnel under the River Thames. Approval and funding for this was given by the Government on 26 February 2004, with the projected cost of 150 million expected to be met through the Private Finance Initiative. Construction began in June 2005.
  • An extension from Canning Town to the new Stratford International station, linking the Docklands with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Four new stations will be built at Star Lane, Abbey Road, Stratford High Street and Stratford International, with a possible fifth station between Cody Road and Canning Town. The branch would also serve London Underground and national rail stations at West Ham and Stratford. The extension will largely run over existing track currently operated by the North London Line, which would in future terminate at Stratford. The extension is projected to open in 2008 at the earliest and is an important part of the transport improvement package required if the Olympic Games are to be held on a site adjoining Stratford International.
  • An extension from Gallions Reach to Dagenham Dock via the riverside at Barking. This would connect the Barking Reach area, a formerly industrial area now undergoing major redevelopment, with the Docklands. The extension would open in 2011 at the earliest.

Besides these extensions, there are plans to upgrade the line between Bank and Lewisham to allow three-car trains. Besides the lengthening of platforms, this will require viaduct-strengthening works and in one case even moving a station slightly to the east, as most of this section dates from the initial system originally built for single-car operation. The DLR also considered running trains more frequently, but found that the necessary signalling changes would be as expensive as upgrading to longer trains, and provide fewer benefits. [3] (

Current projections for the trans-London Crossrail line entail interchanges with the DLR at Custom House and Stratford.

Rolling stock

Missing image
This DLR train is headed by B2K stock car 96, shown at Tower Gateway station.

The DLR is operated by high-floor, bi-directional, single-articulated cars with four doors on each side, with each train composed of two cars. The cars have no driver's cab, although there is a small driver's console concealed behind a locked panel at each car end from which the Passenger Service Agent (PSA) can drive the car in an emergency. Other consoles at each door opening allow the PSA to control door closure and make announcements whilst patrolling the train. Because of the absence of a driver's position, the fully glazed car ends provide an excellent forward (or rear) view for passengers.

Despite being high-platform and highly automated, the cars are derived from a German light rail design intended for use in systems with elements of street running. All the cars that have operated on the system look similar, but there have been five separate types, of which three are still in operation on the DLR.

The original fleet for the 1987 opening consisted of eleven light-rail vehicles built in 1986 by LHB in Germany and numbered 01 to 11. These were referred to as P86 stock, with P referring to Poplar depot, where they were primarily maintained. These cars were built for the initial above-ground system and, because of the lack of appropriate fire-proofing, were not allowed to operate on the tunnelled extension to Bank. Because of this, and because adaptation to a new signalling system was too costly, these cars were sold in 1991 to Essener Verkehrs-AG of Essen, Germany, where they were extensively rebuilt and put into service between 1994 and 1998.

In 1989, BREL supplied another ten LRVs, numbered 12 to 21. These were designated P89 stock and remained in operation on the DLR until the middle of the 1990s. They were also subsequently sold to Essen, where they entered service between 1999 and 2004 after major modifications had been carried out.

Further vehicles were required as the network grew and as the original P86 and P89 cars had to be replaced due to their unsuitability to the changed system conditions. Bombardier built 23 vehicles of B90 stock in 1991, 47 vehicles of B92 stock between 1993 and 1995 and 24 vehicles of B2K stock in 2001 and 2002. The B in the type codes refers to Beckton depot, where they are primarily maintained. They are of a common design and can be operated interchangeably in trains of two. All of them remain in service.

In May 2005, Bombardier announced that they would be providing a further 24 vehicles of a new design, which they consider superior to the current fleet. The new cars, needed for coming extensions and three-car service on the Bank-Lewisham route, are to be delivered between May 2007 and September 2008 [4] (

The current DLR fleet (at the end of 2004) is:

All DLR cars carried a common livery of red, blue, and white upon delivery. Over the years, several vehicles have received all-over advertising livery. A new livery of turquoise and blue was tested on B92 car 45 in the mid-1990s, but it was not adopted, and the car reverted to standard livery a few years later. Refurbishment of the B90 cars started in 2004, with the completed trains re-entering service in a new livery of red and blue with grey doors.

Fares and ticketing

Ticketing for single and return journeys is identical to the London Underground fare-zone system, and Travelcards that cover the correct zones are valid. One-day and season Travelcards provide considerable savings for passengers who make several journeys on different types of public transport in London.

There are also one-day and season DLR-only 'Rover' tickets available, plus a one-day DLR "Rail and River Rover" ticket for use on the DLR and on City Cruises river boats. Oyster Pre-Pay is also available on the DLR - passengers need to both touch in and touch out their Oyster cards on the readers at the entrance / exit to the platforms, or pass through the automatic gates at selected stations.

Tickets for travel on DLR trains be must purchased from ticket machines located at the entrance to the platforms, and in theory are required before the passenger enters the platform. There are, however, no ticket barriers in DLR-only stations, and correct ticketing is enforced by on-train checks by the Passenger Service Agent. The only exceptions to this rule are Bank, Canning Town and Stratford stations, where the DLR platforms are located within the barrier lines of a London Underground and/or National Rail station.


Many DLR stations are elevated, with a few at street level, in cutting or underground. Access to the platforms is normally by staircase, with very few stations having escalators, and with some requiring passengers to climb long flights of stairs. All stations are accessible by wheelchair, however, usually by the use of lifts or elevators. The stations have high platforms, matching the floor height of the cars, and allowing wheelchair and buggy access to the trains.

Most of the stations conform to a simple modular design dating back to the initial system, albeit extended. This design has two side platforms, each with separate access from the street, and platform canopies with a distinctive rounded roof design. Almost all stations are unmanned, although for legislative reasons the three underground stations (Bank, Island Gardens and Cutty Sark) are manned, along with a few of the busier interchange stations.

Stations on west to east branches

Stations on north to south branches

See also

External links


Local Rail Transit in the United Kingdom:

Docklands Light Railway (East London) | Glasgow Subway | London Underground | Tyne and Wear Metro


Blackpool | Tramlink (South London) | Manchester | Midland Metro | Nottingham | Sheffield

de:Docklands Light Railway

fr:Docklands Light Railway nl:Docklands Light Railway no:Docklands Light Railway


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools