The original three Docklands Light Railway (DLR) lines—to Tower Gateway, Stratford and Island Gardens—opened on August 31st, 1987. It has since been extended four times, with more lines on the way. The network is an important part of the redevelopment of the London Docklands, which covers a large part of East London. The former docks had become derelict in the 1970s and 1980s but now form London’s second business and commerce centre.
The system is 20 miles long, using 93 trains to give an intensive daytime frequency on four basic services: trains run from Bank in the City to Lewisham in South London via Canary Wharf in the Isle of Dogs; from Tower Gateway to Beckton via the Royal Docks; from Stratford to Canary Wharf via Bow, extending at certain times to Crossharbour, or further to Lewisham; and from Bank to Woolwich Arsenal via London City Airport. The system is exclusively reserved-right-of-way, with no street running—routes are a mixture of new viaducts, old railway alignments and viaducts, new surface alignments and tunnels, both cut-and-cover and bored. [more]
From humble beginnings—11 trains carrying on less than 10 miles of route—the DLR has developed and grown with the area it serves. The system was designed with expansion and extension in mind, and the network has more than doubled in length, with extensions to Bank in the City, Beckton and North Woolwich in the east and Lewisham in the south. All of the original stations have been rebuilt to take longer trains. Future extensions will take the railway to Woolwich, from Canning Town to Stratford and possibly to Barking Reach and Dagenham.
Technologically the DLR has a unique attribute—trains are driverless, running automatically in normal operation. Trains are staffed by Train Captains, who check tickets, operate doors and signal when the train may proceed. If there is a problem with the ATO (Automatic Train Operation) the Train Captain may drive the train from a concealed control panel at the front of the train, but ordinarily passengers have a clear view from the front seats through the front window. [more]
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