Plans to extend the DLR across the river to the Thamesmead part of southeast London have taken a step forward after Transport for London (TfL) submitted its Strategic Outline Case (SOC) to the government.

If built, the DLR’s Becton branch would add a spur to a new station on the north side of the river and then a tunnel under the Thames to a new station at Thamemead. TfL expects that this would enable around 25,000-30,000 new homes to be built on both sides of the river.

DLR to Thamesmead (c) TfL

The programme is currently considering a number of different options based around the DLR extension and also a bus transit using dedicated infrastructure from Woolwich to Abbey Wood via Thamesmead to improve local connectivity and capacity in the wider Thamesmead area.

TfL says that it is working with Greenwich and Newham councils, along with the three major landowners – Thamesmead Waterfront (a joint venture between Peabody and Lendlease), abrdn (formerly Aberdeen Standard Investments) and St William (a Berkeley Group company) – to develop plans for the area.

TfL added that there has been continuous engagement with Homes England, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

Providing new public transport options like the DLR extension would support low-carbon developments in Thamesmead and Beckton Riverside, unlocking the delivery of around 25,000 – 30,000 new homes along the extended route, as well as improving connectivity across the river and providing alternatives to private car use in the area.

Beckton and Thamesmead from above (c) TfL

The DLR extension would also support the creation of up to 10,000 jobs and provide quicker journeys to other parts of east London like Stratford and the Isle of Dogs, with direct connections to central London via the Jubilee and Elizabeth lines.

However, at the moment the cost of building the DLR extension to Thamesmead is unfunded, which is why the feasibility studies are needed – to prove the investment is necessary and affordable.

While a key part of the work will be to identify options for maximising local and regional sources of funding, as well as driving cost and creating efficiencies, the scale of the projects means that some degree of central government support will be required.

Funding for the feasibility work has been provided to date by a partnership of private and public sector bodies with an interest in regenerating the area. The SOC reflects this work and the scale of opportunity at Thamesmead and Beckton Riverside. To support the further feasibility work and build a strong business case, the partnership has committed to further funding contributions itself, alongside requesting further Government contributions.

A further £6 million is being raised by TfL and the Greater London Authority (GLA) as well as other partners, to fund progressing the business case for the DLR extension to Outline Business Case stage and securing the consent required to deliver the transport infrastructure.

The aim is to agree on an affordable solution by 2025, in order to enable construction to begin as early as 2028 and opening the DLR extension to customers in the early 2030s.

There’s now a page on the TfL website showing off the plans.

London’s Transport Commissioner, Andy Lord, said: This is a unique opportunity that we should not miss out on, with policy support in place at all levels, led by the Mayor of London, to deliver transformational regeneration and up to 25,000 to 30,000 homes over 30 years. By extending the DLR from Gallions Reach to Thamesmead via Beckton Riverside, we can deliver two new accessible stations, connect two major growth areas and four development sites in one go, bringing more housing, retail, leisure activities and unlocking more of London for those who live, work or visit the city.

“We’ve seen what can be achieved with investment in public transport bringing transformational change over the past few years with the Elizabeth line, the Northern line extension to Battersea and the London Overground extension to Barking Riverside. This Strategic Outline Case is the next step on the way to making this scheme a reality.”

To forestall the comments — extending the DLR to Abbey Wood later on was ruled out a long time ago as it would be exceptionally difficult and expensive due to the amount of housing in the way, and they would prefer an alternative option to extend towards Belvedere instead.

TfL is currently introducing 54 new trains to replace the 33 oldest trains in the current DLR fleet, some of which are more than 30 years old. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has funded 11 of the extra trains. These will be introduced from 2024, with the whole fleet in place by 2026.

DLR B23 test train at Stratford High Street station (c) TfL


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  1. Southern Heights says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to extend the Goblin?

    • MilesT says:

      I also have concerns about adding a new branch to a network which is already quite “branchy”, and capacity constraints in core and available vehicles could reduce service levels to branches (as we have seen with Lizzie line).

      This could be mitigated if some of the branches are run as shuttles (cf Mill hill east, central line), but that removes single seat travel from a group that has it today.

      I wonder is the Beckton branch is short enough and has low enough ridership to be replaced with non-DLR solution, e.g. frequent two vehicle cableway like the Luton DART to shuttle to a junction station en route to Thamesmead.

      Extending the Goblin could be less branchy but will cost more.

    • Brian Butterworth says:

      Given the PSA doesn’t need to sit at the front of the train, there’s no problem DLR trains popping into and out of Beckton. The trains that go now to Beckton could all just end up at Thamesmead. The DLR can do turn-arounds in “no time”, you don’t even need to have “stepping back” going on.

    • ianVisits says:

      No – ruled out long ago as not as good as a DLR extension.

    • Paul says:

      The Goblin is a mainline standards railway and the Barking Riverside extension was constructed as an elevated alignment without passive provision for extension across the Thames, despite some social media commentary to the contrary. Not only would such a thing now be impossible without tearing down most of the Barking Riverside section to replace with a cutting to lead up to a tunnel, it would always have been phenomenally expensive to construct. The presence of the HS1 tunnels under the existing line through Dagenham meant the extension had to go over the top, so the gradient downward from there to reach a Thames tunnel at a satisfactory depth may not even be feasible.

      The DLR on the other hand has the advantage of being able to make steeper gradients and sharper curves, which means diving down to go under the river is much more affordable. Plus there’s no complication with existing tunnels to contend with at Beckton.

    • Steph says:

      It definitely would.
      There were plan to do that but they got scrapped like I’m sure this one will also

  2. Bogdan C says:

    Everything between Beckton and Beckton Park is too empty compared to the rest of the DLR. Perhaps extending into Thamesmead could help with the ridership numbers on that branch.

    UEL can’t expand, the depths of Beckton don’t have that many people to move around, Royal Albert Quays is more dead than alive, and Boris’ Asian partnership has hit a monumental dead-end, wasting so much real estate space with an uncertain future.

    • MatW says:

      In theory: Beckton station could be closed, it’s a short bus ride to Cyprus station in the 474…

      Best case Beckton has reduction in service but could be used for service recovery in disruption.

    • Keith says:

      Arguably a third platform could be installed at Gallions Reach to enable a shuttle service to run between there and Becton in future.

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