A little noticed sentence in the Budget has announced that the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is to get a new station and 14 additional trains.
In the budget documents, it was announced that a total of £291 million has been provided from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to unlock 18,000 new homes through improvements to the DLR.
According to a submission by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to the HIF, funding will allow the purchase of 14 DLR trains, improvements to and increased capacity of the Beckton and Poplar depots, and a new DLR station at Thames Wharf, part of the Thameside West development.
The station at Thames Wharf would sit roughly half-way between Canning Town and West Silvertown, in an area which is currently light industrial and brown-field sites, but has been earmarked for housing for at least 4,500 new homes.
When the London City Airport Extension of DLR was constructed in 2005, it included passive provision for an additional station at Thames Wharf to support development there. The station would need to be delivered as part of the development at Thames Wharf.
Funding for these latest DLR upgrades is coming from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, which was set up in 2016 to provide gap funding for infrastructure investments that will unlock the construction of additional homes.
The funding also has a condition attached that the funds are spent by March 2023. Due to that, construction of the homes is expected to come after the station is built, as the land is also needed first to support the construction of the Silvertown road tunnel. That work is expected to occupy the site until 2024, when it can then be released for housing development.
Incidentally, the new station was already programmed into the DLR train displays, at least a decade before the station is expected to open. That’s forward planning for you.
The rest of the funding announced in the Budget will cover the expansion of the Beckton depot for new trains, and a contribution to the redevelopment of Poplar depot, which would include a new housing development over the depot and new bridge links over the 6-lane Aspen Way to Canary Wharf.
The Budget also provided a significant contribution to the new DLR station, which the Royal Docks Infrastructure Investment Plan, has previous estimated to cost in the region of £18 million to build.
TfL has previously announced an intention to order 43 new full-length DLR trains replacing current rolling stock, with a redesigned interior which should increase carrying capacity on the network by 30%.
That order is due to be confirmed later this year, and can now be expected to be increased from 43 to 56 new trains.
Lucinda Turner, Director of Spatial Planning at Transport for London said: “We welcome this funding from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund for improvements to the Docklands Light Railway, which will help enable 18,000 new homes to come forward in two of London’s largest Opportunity Areas – the Isle of Dogs and Royal Docks as well as support access to jobs all across east London. We will work with partners to progress the wider plans for this funding, which include purchasing additional trains, freeing up land around depots for housing as well as a significant contribution towards a new station in Thameside West.”