Upgrade work on the DLR to prepare it for a fleet of new trains has hit a problem after one of the contractors closed down.

New DLR train (c) TfL

The depot and maintenance facility at Beckton needs to be expanded to store and look after the new trains that will be coming into service next year, so there’s a large project to redevelop the depot. Most of the work is being carried out by Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, who are building a new maintenance shed and facilities, but a project to rearrange the railway tracks to create more space to store trains was contracted to a rail specialist.

That company, Buckingham Group Contracting (BGCL) had been awarded the contract to build new railway sidings but had suffered from recent losses and cashflow problems and eventually had to bring in administrators to salvage the company.

BGCL suspended works on site and stood down its subcontractors. In the short term, the TfL team enacted a safe stop to ensure the site was left in a safe and secure condition.

Some of BGCL’s assets were successfully sold, but the rest, including the part of the company carrying out the DLR depot upgrade, couldn’t find a buyer, so they were closed down and the staff made redundant.

TfL said in a recent report that “work is ongoing to develop and consider options for how we complete these works.”

Although new trains are due to enter service from next year, the full fleet won’t be in use until 2026, giving them time to complete the depot capacity upgrade.

In related news, TfL says that the new train’s manufacturer, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), is on target with its work, having completed 19 of 54 new DLR trains that are on order.

Two of the trains are in the UK for testing, which is underway with several successful elements already complete and testing of new signalling software is in progress with the existing fleet on the DLR network.

The first trains should enter public service next year, although you can see them out and about at times as two trains are being put through tests to ensure they work as expected.


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