New fleet of DLR trains with USB chargers and air conditioning unveiled
The first in a new fleet of DLR trains was unveiled on Wednesday – boasting air conditioning, walk-through carriages, USB charging points and a new colour scheme.
The turquoise-painted trains, which will feature real-time travel information displays, are being built in Spain and will start to enter service next year. The new colour is officially known as teal.
Like the existing DLR trains, they will not have a driver at the front – but a “train captain” will be on board and can switch the automatic controls to manual.
Passengers will still be able to sit in the front seat and pretend to “drive” the train. The four seats at the front of existing trains will be replaced with two bench-style “double seats” looking ahead - though the rest of the carriages have seating running along their length, similar to London Overground trains.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was a fan of sitting in the front seat - but added: “The problem is - everyone has got the same idea.
“I get on at Canning Town, and often someone has already bagsied the front seat. But we have made sure we have got front seats in the new DLR trains as well, because I know what a prize that is.”
The new DLR trains will replace about two-thirds of the existing red and blue fleet, increasing the total number of trains from 42 to 54 – meaning more frequent services and greater comfort and capacity.
Some of the newer red trains will be retained.
There will be extra space for wheelchairs, prams and bikes and the seats will be covered in a new moquette fabric named Poplar.
New Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Trains | February 2023
It comes as Transport for London prepares to submit a business case to Government for the expansion of the DLR network to Beckton Riverside across the Thames to Thamesmead, a huge housing area without any Tube or train connections.
Mr Khan, who was viewing the new train at the DLR’s Beckton depot, said: “With over 90 million journeys made each year it is currently the busiest light railway in the UK and its modernisation forms a key part of my vision to make London a greener, fairer and more prosperous city.”
The Docklands Light Railway opened in 1987 with 11 single-car trains and 15 stations. It had two routes – Tower Gateway to Island Gardens and Stratford to Island Gardens.
Now it has 45 stations, 24 miles of track – linking Stratford and Canary Wharf with Bank - and is used for more than 400,000 journeys on weekdays. It is operated for TfL by KeolisAmey Docklands.
Train firm Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) delivered the first train last month, two months ahead of schedule, and seven others are undergoing testing. TfL expects to have received the first 12 trains by the end of March. The last new train is due to enter service by 2026.
Testing will initially take place overnight and during some planned closures. Later this year, test trains will also run during the day in gaps between normal services.
Some 33 of the new trains will replace the DLR’s oldest rolling stock, which is more than 30 years old and coming to the end of its design life. The remaining 21 will boost capacity across the network.
TfL commissioner Andy Lord said: “These new state-of-the-art DLR trains will transform journeys for our customers and help support future growth in east London.
“The trains will now go through testing ahead of introduction in 2024 to ensure they provide the reliability both we and our customers expect.”
He added: “The trains are fully automated. They can drive themselves. We always have a passenger service agent on board to help with customer needs. They are all qualified to drive.
”We have always been very clear that we will always have a member of staff on board our Tube trains going forward. We are a long way off from driverless and have no plans to go driverless on the Tube. But we do have fully automated trains on the Tube.”
The Beckton depot has been expanded and a second entrance will be built at Blackwall station. There will be more trains to Lewisham, Woolwich Arsenal and Beckton.
There is also the possibility of a new station at Thames Wharf, south of Canning Town station and near the new City Hall.
Expansion of the DLR network is seen as a key factor in the further development of the Royal Docks and Isle of Dogs.
Eleven of the new trains were funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities after TfL made a successful bid to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Richard Garner, CAF UK director, said: “Our new driverless trains have an interior which brings a modern, spacious feel, allowing passengers to see and walk the full length of the train.”