There could be a fleet of new fully walk through trains on the DLR with air-conditioning in the near future, according to a document published by TfL.
The document is currently seeking expressions of interest, with no concrete purchases agreed yet, although that is fairly normal when seeking a fleet of new trains.
What the DLR is looking at is expanding its fleet to support passenger growth, which is expected to rise from the 111 million journeys last year thanks to further developments in the Royal Docks area. It is also considering the replacement of its existing 94 B92 vehicles.
The likely order size could be 40-50 New Trains (equivalent to 120—150 single units).
The “New Train” for Docklands, if ordered, would be the same 3-car length as the current trains, but will be fully walk through along the entire length of the train. They will also have an option for air conditioning, if it can be fitted in without reducing passenger space.
Another significant design change is more doors. Currently, around 20% of the length of a DLR train is doors, while the average for most metro-grade services is 30% for doors. The design change to fully walk through carriages releases more space for doors, and passengers to stand.
Another change is likely to be scrapping the central sets of seats in favour of longitudinal Metro seating, which is currently limited to just the areas around the doors. Hopefully that doesn’t mean the end of forward facing seats at the front of the train though, as that would remove one of the great joys of the DLR — sitting in the “drivers seat”.
The DLR is already driverless but has staff on board to control doors and drive the train on occasions. However, while the new trains would retain that, but also have the option for automatic operation of the doors, and even a reserve ability to drive the train without communication with the signals or having a human operating it, although that is for emergency use only.
At the moment, the DLR is simply seeking views from suppliers. It’s a long way from issuing a formal tender and eventual contract.