A NEW LINE on the Docklands Light Railway in London was opened without ceremony on 31 August.
The 6km link has added a second DLR route to Stratford, starting at Canning Town and running along part of the alignment of the former North London Line between Stratford and North Woolwich, which closed in December 2006.
Trains on the route continue beyond the main station at Stratford via a newly-built section to Stratford International, where a two-platform terminus has been provided.
Although still well in time for the Olympics the line is more than a year late, having been due to open in July last year. TfL has attributed this to 'contractual difficulties'.
The former NLR section has gained three new stations – at Stratford High Street, Abbey Road and Star Lane – plus an interchange with the Jubilee Line and c2c at West Ham, where the former NLR island platform has been widened and modernised for light rail.
DLR managing director Jonathan Fox joined passengers and reporters trying out the new line, and told Railnews that although there are no further lines currently under construction, the DLR still has longer-term plans.
“The line to Dagenham Dock and Barking will happen one day,” he said. “It's a natural extension for us, even though the funding was not available to take the scheme forward some years ago.”
He also revealed that some preliminary work has been done on the rumoured westwards extension from Bank to Charing Cross, and even possibly onwards to Victoria.
“We have researched the possibilities,” he said. “There is a pair of existing unused tube tunnels from Aldwych to Charing Cross which we believe our trains could use, even if some track lowering proved to be necessary.”
He added: “It is early days, but it could happen. One big problem would be fitting the new DLR sections in between all the existing tunnels. Underground London is very crowded. But even so, this new line to Stratford means that the DLR has grown tremendously since the 1980s."
Ridership on the 46km system is now approaching 80 million annually, and the second Stratford line will play a crucial role during the Olympics next year.
“We are running a 10 minute headway off-peak and 8 mins in the peaks, mainly by extending the previous Beckton-Canning Town short workings,” Mr Fox said. “But we can offer much shorter headways if we need to, particularly between the two Stratford stations, where we can expect to be really tested next summer. There is a turnback at Stratford Regional and we've already provided a second platform at International on a 'just in case' basis, so we could run some supplementary shuttles on that section."