Docklands Light Railway
This page was last updated on 4 December 1999.
Selected alterations on 10 August 2004 & 6 August 2012.
This page contains a selection of photos relating to the Docklands
Light Railway. It is not intended to be comprehensive, but it is hoped
that the reader might find something of interest here.
Above: Deep beneath King William Street
and also beneath the Northern Line, a two-unit train of B92 Docklands
stock sits in platform 9 of Bank station, awaiting departure to Island
Gardens (Friday 30 October 1998 at about 22:12).
King William Street here refers — perhaps unusually for
me (!) — to the road rather than the nearby abandoned
tube station of the same name; meanwhile, Bank station has latterly
been known as part of the Bank-Monument
complex. Island Gardens was not served by the DLR between 9 January
and 19 November 1999 inclusive, whilst the link was made with an
extension to Lewisham (now fully open).
Behind the train, this track and that of the platform 10 arrival line
join to form a Y-shaped siding: it curves to the right beneath Bank
road-junction to follow the line of Princes Street up to Lothbury.
Above: And here is the view at Lothbury!
I did think of asking if I could walk along the headshunt to get the
interior view, but I fear the answer is obvious! Princes Street and the
Bank of England are just out of shot to the left. The headshunt comes to
a sticky end in a set of large ventilation fans which uses the
floor-grating in this fenced-off traffic-island as its intake/exhaust.
Also provided is a Dry Falling Main for the fire-brigade, and an
escape-route via a ladder and a hatch which cannot be opened from outside
(!). (1998 Nov 22.)
Over the weekend of 21/22 November 1998, buses replaced all DLR train
services while an upgraded version of the SELTRAC moving-block signalling
software was tested.
The opportunity was also taken to stage an evacuation exercise which
took place on Sunday morning in the tube-tunnel section between Royal
Mint Street (near Shadwell) and Bank. Part of the exercise involved two
dozen volunteers (including one wheelchair-user) being taken from HQ at
Poplar to Bank, where we were shepherded past the locked lattice-gates
and down to the closed platforms; we “caught” a waiting
ghost-train to Island Gardens which was being driven manually and
signalled by two-way radio. I liked the attempt at realism given by the
“Passengers for Beckton should change at Westferry”
Above: To nobody’s great surprise,
part-way along the tubes the train stopped and we were informed that it
was on fire: this wasn’t simulated, however. The emergency
door-releases were operated and we were led to safety along the tunnel
walkway (which I found quite narrow and slippery); upon congregating on
the concrete apron between the tracks at the tunnel portal, I took the
rare opportunity to capture the view from this angle.
Above: Amongst the various
radio-conversations heard, was one informing the Train Captain that the
Short-Circuiting Device (SCD) had been applied, thus discharging the
traction current and rendering the third rail harmless. Sure enough,
when we reached the end of the tunnel we saw it in position there; a
cable runs to a metal clamp screwed to the other running-rail, either to
help ensure a good earth or to operate track circuits (?).
Above: This is the view in the opposite
direction, up the 1 in 17 gradient to Royal Mint Street Junction, where
the DLR Bank Branch joins the Tower Gateway Branch and the formation of
the LTS lines out of Fenchurch Street (top left).
The old “High-level” route to Mudchute and
Above: The DLR has been extended beyond
Island Gardens to Lewisham; twin tube tunnels run beneath the Thames to
Greenwich, and because of the huge difference in height between the old
and new routes, the old “high level” section beyond
Crossharbour station had to be abandoned. So, Friday 8 January 1999 was
the last day of DLR operation for Mudchute and Island Gardens “high
level” stations, to allow the embankment and station site around
Mudchute to be removed and a cutting dug to meet the new, subterranean
alignment. On the dull and rainy afternoon of that day, the approach to
the platforms at Island Gardens is seen through the wet windscreen of a
DLR train. The platform on the right was rarely used and could only hold
Above: This view was taken from the rear
of the same train as it made its return working back to Canary Wharf and
beyond; we have just travelled over the brick arches of Millwall Viaduct,
built in 1872 for a railway whose alignment, long after closure, was
taken over for use by the DLR. Now the viaduct has again seen its rails
torn up and ballast removed - probably for good this time; it itself
remains however, as it is a listed structure. On the left is the
construction site of Island Gardens low-level station, whilst the dome
covering the lift-shaft at the high-level station can be seen on the
right of the picture.
Above: This view, again taken from the
rear of a train heading towards Canary Wharf, shows the point where the
new alignment (centre left) now diverges from the (then current) old one
near Mudchute high-level station: however, the new route is already much
lower at this point, demonstrating why the existing alignment had to be
removed to make way for the new. On a return visit to this area in May
1999, Mudchute high-level station and the embankment seen here was gone,
and the new station appeared largely ready to accept trains and
passengers. On a recent journey over the new “low level”
route through to Lewisham, very little of the older route was visible
from the trains.
The last train from Island Gardens “High Level”
Above: A special working, comprising a
single unit, arrived at Poplar around 2330 that drizzly Friday evening to
convey enthusiasts, historians and DLR staff to Island Gardens high
level; on arrival, it swung to the right and stopped in the number 2
“short” platform. The last service train arrived and
departed whilst we savoured the last moments of useful existence of this
station — and I took the above photograph; note Canary Wharf in the
background, and a member of DLR staff removing the wreath from the end
door to “change ends”!
Finally, it was time to leave: as we pulled out across the points, and
Millwall Viaduct saw its “last-ever train” for the second
time round, the interior lights were switched off and we joined local
historian and author, Jim E. Connor, in singing Auld Lang Syne.
Amongst those on the trip was a man who, as a five-year-old, had
travelled on the previous “last” passenger train over this
section in 1926 when the London & Blackwall Railway was closed
(freight continued until 1966); and David Connor (sometime of
uk.transport.london) who rode on the first-ever DLR train to Island
Gardens. We paused briefly to pay our respects to Mudchute high-level
station, before returning less memorably over the remaining network to
Poplar. Over the weekend, the tracks at Crossharbour were fitted with
buffer-stops and various other changes made to facilitate its use as a
terminus for about ten months; by Monday, track-lifting was well under
way and Mudchute high-level station was already being demolished; no
trace of it remains today.
Something a little different…
On a lighter note… this isn’t strictly to
do with the DLR but it is very much in its territory: it’s a
“tree” made from 75 traffic-lights displaying random aspects!
It sits on Heron Quays roundabout, and is definitely one of the more
imaginative and amusing pieces of public modern art to be seen in
The traffic light tree was removed in December
2011 as part of a road-
improvement scheme. Apparently it will
be returned to public view, either at Westferry Circus or elsewhere on
the Isle of Dogs.