DLR Disruptions

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 118 months ago
DLR Disruptions
Mudchute DLR station rebuilding

The DLR has come a long way since its birth almost 21 years ago. What started off as a relatively modest initiative for getting commuters into and out of the newly regenerated Docklands area has blossomed into a major transport backbone for parts of East London.

And yet, despite trundling through its teenage years without too much adolescent drama, it seems that the DLR is experiencing delayed growing pains as it enters its twenties. The system that was setting the standard for reliability and punctuality a few years ago seems to have been somewhat ‘off the pace’ over the last year or so, with reports of increased journey times, weekend engineering works overrunning by an entire week, and even unexpectedly unstaffed trains!

On top of this, the DLR network is undergoing major ‘improvements’ – a term which, in our experience, is often used as a euphemism for ‘irritating disruptions’. Right now, the DLR is currently being ‘improved’ by:

  • One station closure (for complete rebuilding)
  • Partial rebuilding of numerous stations (for adding, lengthening, or even removing platforms)
  • The curtailments of multiple routes, necessitating replacement bus services
  • One major ‘delta-junction’ upgrade (turning a very complicated junction into an even more complicated junction)
  • All this work has had a major impact on the services that are provided by the DLR, as demonstrated by a series of modified service maps on the London Connections blog. Even the operators’ own glossy leaflet on the disruptions struggles to hide the inherent difficulty in getting from A to B on the DLR these days.

    Looking on the positive side, these works do seem to be proactive moves on the part of DLR strategists, and should hopefully ensure that the system can handle increasing passenger numbers. Eventually.

    Photo by Dave.

    Last Updated 08 July 2008


    Personally I have found it great! I am one of those lucky people that lives equal distance from Island Gardens, Mudchute and Crossharbour so instead of going to Island Gardens (much prettier walk) I go to Crossharbour and then I get an empty train every few minutes. I get a seat and everything!

    The only thing I don't understand is why they keep saying they have a backlog of trains going into Bank each morning. They are running about 1/2 the trains they used to so why do you end up sitting outside Bank for 10 minutes every morning?


    It is indeed a much less frustrating experience if your local station is not one of those between Mudchute and Lewisham. At the moment, anyway.

    In terms of the backlog of trains into Bank, this seems to have been a constant problem with the DLR for the last couple of years, regardless of train frequency (in my experience, at least). But now that Tower Gateway station is closed, I would have guessed that a higher proportion of trains on that part of the system are terminating at Bank, which must only be exacerbating the situation.

    Mr Thant

    As you can see on my diagrams, the only trains to Tower Gateway were from Beckton, and those don't go anywhere near Central London anymore. If I'm not mistaken, the same number of trains are running into Bank as before.

    Presumably the problem is a lot of Tower Gateway's customers will have transferred to Bank, increasing the crowding at the platforms and therefore reducing the throughput of trains.

    Thanks for the link, btw.


    Good work with those diagrams, Mr Thant.

    Your theory on the increased crowding at Bank contributing the the increased backlog in that area does sound plausible. However, I've often wondered what it is about that part of the system that makes it so susceptible to this sort of problem - trains were always very sluggish going into Bank even before these works started...