The issue of the extension of the DLR to Thamesmead was raised in the House of Commons, although no commitments were offered to it being built.
There is a plan to link the DLR at Beckton on the north side of the Thames with Thamesmead on the south via a new bridge, as doing so will unlock a considerable amount of housing development on both sides of the river.
Apart from a study in 2020, there is currently no funding for the DLR extension, which has been costed at around £800 million, for a 5 trains-per-hour service. Supporting the proposal is that the government already has a scheme that supports transport upgrades where they unlock housing developments — and the DLR extension is almost entirely about supporting around 25,000 new homes on both sides of the river, with the bulk in Thamesmead.
The DLR extension while still unfunded has not been formally dropped by TfL, and hasn’t been put on hold as the Bakerloo line extension and Crossrail 2 have been.
The area has a particularly low public transport accessibility rating, and that’s a factor in the area’s higher than average unemployment as it’s difficult to reliably commute to work. The area is thought to have a large number of people working in service and hospitality, which means they can’t work from home and need better transport links.
During a transport debate in Parliament on 3rd February, the MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Abena Oppong-Asare asked what discussions had taken place recently between the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) on proposals to extend the DLR to Thamesmead.
Wendy Morton MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, responded, noting that “the Government and Homes England are exploring potential opportunities and options at Thamesmead and Beckton Riverside with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London.”
As Abena Oppong-Asare MP explained though, Thamesmead ” has some of the worst public transport links in the capital. There are ambitious plans to extend the docklands light railway to Thamesmead, which are supported by Greenwich and Newham councils and Transport for London. Will the Minister look favourably at these proposals when they are submitted to the Government, and provide the necessary funding to finally put Thamesmead on the transport map?”
Wendy Morton MP was non-committal though, repeating her earlier prepared statement that the issue is being looked at, and that the various bodies are working together.
The problem with Thamesmead is that it’s pretty difficult to improve public transport links without a railway across the river. Although there will be the terminus of the Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood, it’s a slow bus ride from there to the heart of Thamesmead. A link across the river raises the costs of the rail upgrade, but the area is also fortunate in having a lot of empty land waiting to be built on, thus generating the revenue needed to run a railway and some of the money needed to pay for it.