Thursday, 20 March 2008

The DLR three-car project

Last week's event showing off the new DLR railcars was also the launch for the three-car DLR project, so it's probably time I wrote about what's happening.

First, a note about terminology. This is what what a "three-car" DLR train looks like. Each articulated unit counts as one "car", so the three-car project amounts to running three units coupled together rather than two, not adding a third segment to each unit as many people misunderstand. And although the new cars have been bought as part of the three-car project, they're likely to run in two-car configuration to begin with. In time, old and new cars will all be coupled in threes.

As is visible in that picture, most stations on the DLR are only long enough for two cars, so the main part of the project is rebuilding the platforms, and most . At most stations they can easily extend them in one direction or the other, as is already happening at the east end of Shadwell:

The track here also needs to be straightened.

One station that can't be extended easily is South Quay, which is between two sharp curves. A fancy new station is being constructed slightly further east where the track is straight:
They haven't got much further than ground preparation. The image on the right shows the new site from the end of the existing station.

Tower Gateway will also be rebuilt. It currently has a narrow island platform with tracks either side. During a nine month closure starting this June, the entire platform area will be demolished and replaced with a single track with platforms on both sides. Passengers will board from the south platform and leave via the north platform.

The project is being done in stages. Stations from Bank-Lewisham are being done now , though the pictures above show the only visible construction so far. Tower Gateway and the Delta Junction upgrade are being done as part of this phase. Completion is due in October 2009.

Phase 2 begins with the Poplar-Stratford, due for completion in March 2010. The City Airport/Woolwich Arsenal branch was built as three car, but Blackwall and East India Quay will also be extended in December to provide a three car route all the way to Bank. That leaves only the Beckton branch which, although officially part of phase 2, I can find no timetable for it being upgraded, and I don't believe it has funding. Beckton depot is however being expanded to house the extra cars.

TfL have station plans for the Phase 2 upgrades here and there are some dates and other details on page 72 of the most recent board papers. An overview of closures required for the work is here.

[Thanks to diamondgeezer for the last link]


Rob said...

Interesting the Tower Gateway plans shows the buffers being quite far back from where the end of the track is going to be (I assume they will lay track all the way).

Is that for flexibility if there are further capacity upgrades in the future?

Mr Thant said...

The buffers have to be a fair distance from the end of the track, as they're designed to slide along it to bring the train to a stop gently. It does seem a bit excessive here though, but less than half a car's worth.

I don't think there's any ambition to introduce four car trains though - they'd be longer than most trains on London Underground. The next capacity upgrade for the area is Crossrail.

Unknown said...

So why do they want to switch to have only a single track at Tower Hill station?

Anonymous said...

When Tower Gateway is closed, please re-route DLR services to Bank so that commuters travelling from Beckton don't have to change trains at Canning Town because currently, there are shuttle services only operating between Beckton and Canning Town according to Wikipedia.

Dazy said...

I believe the tower might be being used once again as a hoist for works related to the DLR three car extension project. When I was a kid, the yard was not subdivided by the DLR tunnel. The surface was paved and across parts of it were railway tracks.