Docklands Light Railway

From nycsubway.org

Docklands Light Railway train at Crossharbour/London Arena. Photo by Bernard Chatreau, August 2006.


The Docklands Light Rail is a fairly unusual light rail system compared to others worldwide. It is fully automated, with no drivers. Current collection is third-rail, therefore the right of way is fully segregated. The right of way is partly old railway ROW, partly in new tunnel and partly elevated.

Stations have high platforms providing level access from platform to car. The cars are double-ended single-articulated cars with no drivers cab and a full width railfan window at each end. They usually run in coupled pairs. There is a small driver's console concealed behind a locked panel at the railfan seat.

Despite being high-platform and highly automated, the cars are derived from German streetcar design. The first order of cars was not designed with underground operation in mind (the initial system had no tunnels) and had to be retired; they were bought by Essen in Germany, were fitted with cabs and pantographs and now operate in-street in that city.

Most platforms are accessed by stair and elevator; a few stations have escalators. Stations are (apart from the underground ones) unmanned; tickets are sold from ticket machines. Fare collection is based on the honour system, with tickets inspected by a 'Train Captain' who patrols the train and also controls door closure (from whichever door is nearest to where he happens to be). If need be, (s)he can (and is trained to) drive the train at limited speed manually using the hidden controls at the car ends.

The system is quite complex. There are five terminals (Bank, Tower Gateway, Lewisham, Beckton and Stratford) with several interlocking services. The line largely serves the rejuvenated docklands area, which is rapidly becoming the center of London's financial industry. One area (Canary Wharf, the tallest building in the United Kingdom) was planned by the same architects as the World Financial Center in New York (and looks it).

At first the system was a bit derided as under-spec'ed for the amount of traffic, but with subsequent platform and train lengthening, more routes and the addition of a separate Jubilee line tube line to Canary Wharf it now seems to be very successful. A new extension has just been approved to serve London City Airport.

Transfer between tube and DLR, and mainline rail and DLR, is pretty good in most places they coincide. At Bank, DLR runs into the underground tube station; at Stratford the DLR runs into a surface station shared with two tube lines and two mainline rail lines; at Canning Town the DLR platforms are elevated immediately above the (surface) Jubilee tube lines; at Lewisham the DLR station is just outside the mainline station. Ironically the one place transfer isn't good is Canary Wharf, which has a pretty monumental elevated DLR station and a truly amazingly monumental underground tube station, but several hundred yards apart.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 44472

(213k, 1044x703)
Photo by: David Pirmann
Location: West India Quay

Image 88420

(102k, 820x542)
Photo by: Theo Neutelings

Image 95365

(68k, 640x480)
Photo by: Oren H.
Location: Tower Gateway

Image 120664

(227k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Bernard Chatreau
Location: Crossharbour/London Arena

Image 120710

(282k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Bernard Chatreau
Location: All Saints

More Images: 1-50 51-100 101-150 151-200 201-206

Photos By Location

Photo locations: Bank, Tower Gateway, Shadwell, Limehouse, Westferry, Poplar, Blackwall, East India, Canning Town, Royal Victoria, Custom House/ExCel, Price Regent, Royal Albert, Beckton Park, Cyprus, Gallions Reach, Beckton, Stratford, Pudding Mill Lane, Bow Church, Devons Road, Langdon Park, All Saints, West India Quay, Canary Wharf, Heron Quays, South Quay, Crossharbour/London Arena, Mudchute (abandoned), Mudchute, Island Gardens (abandoned), Island Gardens, Cutty Sark/Maritime Greenwich, Greenwich, Deptford Bridge, Elverson Road, Lewisham, West Silvertown, Pontoon Dock, London City Airport, King George V, Woolwich Arsenal, Stratford International, Stratford (Low-Level), Stratford High Street, Abbey Road, West Ham, Star Lane, DLR depot near Poplar, DLR depot near Beckton, DLR depot near All Saints

Page Credits

By Chris Wood.

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