Canary Wharf is working on a proposal for an improved rail link between the Docklands and Euston mainline station. A letter sent to Southwark Council by Canary Wharf Group gives a hint of the proposals they are working on.

The letter is in fact an objection to increased development around Canada Water due to concerns about how it would affect the Jubilee line, and hence office workers getting to Canary Wharf.

The letter also notes that Canary Wharf Group has been working on a scheme to “provide a new link from Canary Wharf to Euston, via the City as part of the DfT’s recent call for market-led rail proposals.”

The idea of market-led proposals was issued by the DfT last March, as a call to the industry to come up with alternative ways of funding rail upgrades.

The market-led proposals, also known as an “unsolicited bid”, as a project promoted by the private sector which addresses an opportunity not necessarily identified or prioritised in a departmental programme or through the Network Rail-led long term planning process (LTPP).

The Department for Transport received 30 submissions, which was reduced down to ten ideas — and the Canary Wharf Group proposal is understood to be one of those short-listed.

Canary Wharf Group has declined to comment on what their proposal entails.

Although there is a suggestion that the proposal is for an entirely new railway line, costing in excess of £5 billion to built, it’s more likely to be a look again at the 2011 proposal to extend the DLR from Bank to Euston via City Thameslink and Holborn, as that is considerably cheaper than a dedicated new railway.

DLR extensions – as proposed in 2011

The City of London has previously said it “strongly supports” a proposed extension of the DLR to Euston due to the reduction in overcrowding on the Underground, especially on the Northern line between Euston and Bank.

Extending the line from Bank to Euston without affecting the frequency of trains on the rest of the DLR would normally require additional trains to be purchased, however there is already an alternative proposal.

The Horizon 2050 report has already suggested that Tower Gateway station should be replaced with an underground station on the existing line to Bank station.

Currently, 90 per cent of DLR City passengers use Bank, but only 75 per cent of services go there. The report says that scrapping the current spur to Tower Gateway would increase service to Bank from 23tph to 30tph.

The bank tunnels currently run right past Tower Hill tube station – slightly below and to the south — so the proposed replacement DLR station at that location would also offer a direct connection from the DLR to the London Underground.

The proposal then enables far more trains to run to Bank, and hence up to Euston station without needing such a large order for new trains, which significantly reduces the cost of the proposed extension.

The DfT’s scheme requires that the Canary Wharf Group, and probably the City of London are able to raise enough money to fund the extension themselves, or from increased taxes on developers. However, the two parties involved are more likely to be able to raise the money than most other proposed transport schemes.

We will just have to wait until the DfT announces the results of its shortlisting to see whether the Canary Wharf proposal is accepted, and exactly what it entails.


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  1. 100andthirty says:

    Eliminating the station and spur at/to Tower Gateway would allow the frequency to be increased on the Bank branch, but wouldn’t eliminate the need to buy more trains. There are two reasons:

    1) adding a new DLR Tower Hill station would slow down the journey on the Bank section using up some of the benefit of the diversion

    2) it is much further to Euston than to Bank, and more trains would be needed to maintain the frequency.

    I estimate the needs for 6-8 trains.

    As the extension could eliminate the single track headshunt at Bank, it would be possible to increase the frequency of trains on the Bank branch without closing Tower Gateway. Perhaps some remodelling of the junction to the east of Tower Gateway might be necessary to reduce junction occupancy time, but this would cost a fraction of the cost of a new underground station. Moreover passengers leaving Tower Gateway gateway would retain the benefit of being able to get on the first train!

  2. Nandu Thalange says:

    I wholeheartedly support an extension of the DLR to Euston but I think we all know how politicians feel about rail investments following repeated and systemic failings in project delivery. I hope it goes ahead – and I guess the City of London may have greater ability to raise the money without recourse to taxpayers – but I’m not sure about the ability of such a project to be delivered within the forecast timescale and budget.

    We seem to have found a unique proposition in the UK when it comes to rail investment – how to add cost without value – through spiralling costs, construction delays, rolling stock delivery delays or timetabling based on theoretical staffing or infrastructure

    • Peter versus Pan says:

      Adding cost without value, how true! It is scandalous, but hardly unique. The Germans do this over 10 times better — just look at the new airport for Berlin or the new mainline train station for Stuttgart!

  3. Andrew Conway says:

    This proposal would relieve pressure on the city branch of the Northern Line, but would not increase capacity into Canary Wharf. The DLR is already crowded in the rush hour, so there would not be space for extra passengers from Euston. I think it unlikely that it will attract support from CWG.

    • Jimbo says:

      This is the problem that most people making extension proposals fail to understand – if the trains are already full, adding the extension won’t let you carry any more passengers, so what is the point in extending.

  4. ChrisMitch says:

    When Crossrail eventually opens, it should relieve both Jubilee and DLR services to Canary Wharf, so extending the DLR from Bank to Euston won’t necessarily be adding extra passengers, just replacing the passengers who start using the crossrail trains instead.

  5. Mr D says:

    More housing needs = more passengers= more revenue

    More capacity= bigger depots= more trains

    More trains= upgrade to systems + rolling stock+ support staff

  6. Dave says:

    If this option were to be taken forward (I’ll assume that Canary Wharf would only be interested in the northern half of the western DLR extension) I believe it could get started very rapidly. Well designed and built it could also solve the problem of the awkward journey between Euston and St Pancras, that’ll please TfL.
    Crossrail opening won’t solve getting directly from Euston to CW. Though 2 stops to Tottenham Ct Rd and catching Crossrail might be slightly quicker than a direct DLR.

    Additionally DLR have plans to bring in 3 car trains used in pairs, which is a separate issue (less seating, more standing one wonders). And with an extension to Victoria and increasing frequency to 36tph or beyond adds yet more capacity at Bank.

    But at £5billion I can’t see the viability of a dedicated Euston/CW line. And CW owning and maybe running their own railway – in London!? Have the politics really changed, or is it a ploy? I seem to remember Canary Wharf previously wanting to build their own railway from Waterloo and London Bridge; result – the Jubilee Line extension.

  7. Robert Kay says:

    When Crossrail opens it is likely that the DLR will lose significant CW traffic as the new link will be much faster : 6 minutes (as advertised) City to CW as opposed to 21 at present. This will make Euston to Moorgate on the Northern line, followed by a change to Crossrail, more attractive and any new line would have to offer a further significant saving.
    The DLR Bank tunnels may run close to Tower Hill station, but they are also on a 6% gradient — far too steep for a passenger platform. This idea is and will always be a non-starter.
    In addition the DLR is slow, quaint and uncomfortable. It was a great idea but has been overtaken by unexpected demand pressures. It has no further capacity for improvement as regards train lengths, speeds or frequency.
    The whole proposal sounds like one put forward by people with one very narrow vested interest, or alternatively a train enthusiast’s fantasy.

  8. Herman Wilmer says:

    Why not connect DLR Tower Gateway branch and the Waterloo & City line to a direct link between Waterloo Station and the Docklands? That will please many commuters between South West London and East Londen.It will probably give a big break around Bank station, but that is the case in so many places. We are now used to that. It will certainly be cheaper than extending the DLR Bank branch to Euston-St Pancras and Victoria Station respectively. The necessity of that proposal escapes me.

    • ianvisits says:

      Apart from the enormous cost of the extra tunnel, and that DLR trains can’t fit down the W&C line – most people at Waterloo would find it much faster to catch the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf anyway.

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