If you’re using the DLR over the next few months, you might see an unusual looking train passing through stations — as testing starts for the new fleet of DLR trains arriving early next year.
Two of the new trains are in London for testing and trials, initially to make sure they fit as designed to fit with the track and stations, and now testing has moved onto integrating with the signalling systems. All these tests are needed to secure approval from the rail regulator. They also need to build up at least 20,000km of running before the regulator will authorise the trains for passenger use.
The tests started last month, and they’ve now been given a special wrap over the train to highlight that it’s a special testing train and not one the public should try to get on board. And indirectly, it lets people know that they can look forward to having some shiny new trains to ride on.
At the moment, most of the testing is taking place at night, or when parts of the DLR are closed for engineering works – such as last weekend between Stratford and Canning Town. Towards the end of this year, they will enter ghost running, which is to say that they will slot in between passenger trains on the network — so you may be waiting for a train to arrive, and see one of the new trains pass through the station as well.
The first trains are due to enter passenger service early next year, and the full fleet will be in service in early 2026.
Arran Rusling, TfL’s Head of Programme for the DLR Rolling Stock Replacement Programme, said: “We have just completed our first weekend of signalling integration testing for the new B23 DLR train, which was very successful overall. Testing of the new trains will continue both in the evenings during engineering hours and during planned closures at weekends. Later this year customers will start to see this train being tested between regular services, with it easily identified by its new teal colour livery and specially designed train wrap.”
In total 54 new trains are being ordered — of which 33 will replace older DLR trains, while 10 will increase the capacity on the network, particularly in the Royal Docks routes. A further 11 more trains are being funded by the Housing Infrastructure Fund to support capacity demands caused by new housing developments in the Royal Docks area.
The new trains are fully walk through from end to end, and can carry around 10 percent more passengers in air-cooled carriages. Along with other planned upgrades and timetable changes, it’s expected that the new fleet of trains will increase capacity on the DLR by nearly a third when fully implimented.
When they go into service, they will also be in a new livery, to match the teal colour used to signify the DLR on tube maps and signage.
Yes, you will still be able to “drive” the new DLR trains.
More photos of the interior of the trains are here.