DLR offers a service to commuters, local residents and visitors to Docklands, South East and East London. DLR connects easily with London Underground, Bus and mainline rail networks. Customer Services,
Serco Docklands Limited, Castor Lane, London E14 ODS „
The Docklands Light Railway (otherwise known as the DLR) is a very useful railway - when it works(!) - and very easy to get round.
It is one of the more recent additions to the extensive London travel network and covers the Docklands area in the East of London and South-East London. It's safe to say that travel is in SE London is a bit of a nightmare at times as the links just aren't as good as the rest of the city, so the DLR really is useful in making London that more accessible. Yes folks, there IS life saaaarf of the river.
The DLR is constantly being worked on, with new stations popping up on a fairly regular basis. The routes are useful - Lewisham to Bank and Stratford and back again, Bank to Woolwich Arsenal and back again and Tower Gateway to Beckton and back again. They run frequently and interchanging to the trains you need is very simple as many lstations serve different branches. Poplar and Canary Wharf are particularly popular points to change. A few stops also have interchanges for various underground lines, giving you more routes.
The routes are clearly mapped on the Tube map, in the exact same way as the other underground lines. This makes it very easy to navigate.
The trains themselves are much nicer than the tube trains and the journey is often more pleasant. Although some routes can be jam-packed during rush hour, most of the time you are able to get a seat. The trains are usually much cleaner than the tube trains, although there will often be a copy of that day's Metro lying around. As the vast majority of the network is overground, it makes the journey much more pleasant as you are in daylight and can see where you are going. The journey around the Docklands is also very enjoyable as Canary Wharf is aesthetically very pleasing on the eye.
The trains do not have drivers - instead they have a Passenger Service Agent who can run the train manually if they need to. The PSAs are there to ask advice and to check Oyster cards. The PSAs are hit and miss - some are cheerful and helpful, others you can imagine working in a prison cell as it seems that they are there to be intimidating and grumpy.
The cheapest way to travel on the DLR is to use an Oyster card - a single journey this way is £1.30 and you simply touch in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. This makes it a cheap way to travel. You can also buy tickets and season tickets.
As outlined above, the DLR has many good points. However, being a seasoned Londonder (or a Cornish girl, posing as one!) who has lived in SE London for three years now, the DLR also has many bad points.
The first one is the amount of delays and breakdowns it has. Yes, I know problems happen, but it seems to happen on a fortnightly basis on the DLR and always at rush hour when you're trying to get to work. If this isn't bad enough, there is always a complete and utter lack of communication when it happens. No one tells you that there is a delay or the reason why. I understand that often the PSAs may not know the reason for the delay, but if the train has not moved for thirty minutes and you are between stations, an apology and an acknowledgement would be appreciated.
My next issue is the engineering works. Yes, I know that these have to happen, but why always at the weekend? And if they MUST be done at the weekend, why can't they liaise with the rest of the travel network so SE London isn't left in the lurch? The amount of times that the Jubilee, DLR and National Rail have all been closed at the weekends is unbelievable. The replacement bus services are often slow, hot and staff are unhelpful in telling you where the bus is and where it'll go from.
My final gripe is the magical disapearing train and the magical change of directions! There have been so many occasions that I have been on a Stratford bound train just for it to suddenly head toward Westferry from West India. There have also been many times when a Lewisham bound train has been due in two minutes time. 15 minutes later, it still hasn't turned up, but several other have. It's vanished! Where?
The DLR is great for tourists as it's a novelty. It's also a brilliant form of transport in London for us SE people - when it works. Which doesn't happen all the time.
The Docklands Light Railway or DLR as it's known by locals down there is a light rail transport mode running between various area's of east London and is operated by Serco onbehalf of Transport for London.
The service runs light rail trains between Bank station in Central London to King George IV & London City Airport, Tower Gateway & Beckton, Stratford to Lewisham via Canary Wharf and Bank to Woolwich Arsenal. Trains upto every 5 minutes on the line through most the day with trains starting at about 0530 Monday to Saturday and 0700 on Sundays with last trains departing about 1am Monday to Saturday and about 12am on Sundays. With trains running about 20 hours a day every few minutes, I think this is such an easy way to get around the east side of London.
Tickets are fairly priced when using your Oyster Card, they are set in zones the same way that the tube fares are set. The amount of zones you travel through, determines the price of your ticket. Tickets are available as singles or returns, you can also get day, weekly, monthly & annual season tickets, which allow unlimited travel across the whole network in your selected zones. The cheapest way to travel is deffinately by Oyster Card, this very easy pre-paid card allows you to pay cheaper fares, this helps save money but also stops the need for carrying change for the ticket machines. Ticket machines at stations though if you want to just buy a ticket & go are so simple to use just select the ticket & journey and pay, but they only take cash at the moment.
Trains run using 2 "cars" or carriages, they are very open & spacious with both linked together making it easier to walk through both ends. Trains are generally driven automatically as its a light rail system, it's mainly operated by a very high tech automatic system but a "driver" can take control of the vehicle using controls hidden in a big box at the front. Most trains however don't bother, this leaves 'drivers' free to check tickets & help fight crime & stop fraud on trains.
I have used the network a few times, having stopped at London City Airport hotels before, with just a 23 minute journey between there & Bank station in Central London it's a great piece of transport for visitors to the City who might not want to, or can't afford central hotels and want to stop outside the city, as you can then transfer onto the Tube at Bank or also at other stations too. Trains are always clean, they are bright & airy, stations are kept clean & tidy and a very easy to use. Although I know delays occur, nothing major whenever I have used the system before, much more reliable than the tube that's for sure.
The Docklands Light Railway or DLR as it is normally refereed to is a good alternative to the tube for any journeys from the city to Docklands and the east London area. On my journey into work I always try to use the DLR instead of the Jubilee line due to it being a more pleasant journey, instead of being underground you get to see what is going on outside. It runs from both Bank and Tower Gateway and serves many stations on route to either Lewisham or Stratford. Over the last 8 years I have been using the service I have noticed it has got a lot busier, especially at Canary Wharf station, for me it is more convenient to get on at Heron Quays to avoid the crowds. They have however recently started to future proof the service and start extending the platforms to accommodate an extra carriage, this must be a major project but is something that in my opinion has to be done, hopefully when it is complete it will make for a better journey. Like all train and tube lines the DLR has delays but I wouldn't say they are any worse than other services. There are no actual drivers on the trains and I believe it is mainly operated by a central system, you do however get train Captains on board which seem to operate the trains in some way. Overall the DLR runs a great service, if you are due to visit the Docklands area give it a go and you should find it a better experience that the tube!
Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
The Docklands area of London has undergone a massive redevelopment in recent times, and the Docklands Light Railway services the region.
- My experience -
I am not from London, and recently my Husband had an audition for Gladiators, which meant a day in the Capital. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to watch the auditions, but wanted to be there for moral support for hubby, so we both went down to London. The audition was in Bethnal Green, and could last for up to 7 hours, which left me with a reasonably large amount of time to kill. Luckily for me, my Mum came down with us, so I wouldn't be wandering around on my own, but we still didn't know what to do. If you are a visitor to London for a short period of time it is difficult to know what to do really as there is so much to choose from.
We had both done the usual touristy things before, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Harrods etc, so wanted to do something a bit different.
I had never been to Canary Wharf, and so fancied going to have a look, I checked out online, and found out there was a new shopping centre at Canary Wharf, so I thought this might kill a few hours. I also was told that the Docklands Light Railway would take me there, and as I had never been on the line before, thought I would check it out.
We got to Bank and went to change onto the DLR, but unfortunately there was some building works which had over-run and the DLR was not running between Bank and Canary Wharf. We got the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf instead and checked out all of the sky scrapers and amazing glass buildings above the tube station.
We then found our way to Heron Keys, which is the next tube station to Canary Wharf, and is on the DLR. This was only about a 5 minute walk from Canary Wharf tube station.
We decided to get the railway from here to Cutty Sark at Greenwich.
We boarded the train, and set off across the Thames, it was a very odd journey, it felt like being on a theme park ride at somewhere like Alton Towers. When we went round a corner (there were a few) it felt almost precarious, and the whole train moved to the side. I'm sure for the usual people who use it, they are used to this, but me and my Mum were a bit apprehensive at first. What makes it different as well is that it is above the ground as opposed to the underground, which is obviously under the ground. This means that you can see where you are going and have some pretty spectacular views of London particularly as you cross the Thames.
We got off at the Cutty Sark, and had a nice time pootling around on the pier and taking in the view of Canary Wharf from the other side of the Thames. The Cutty Sark was covered over with tarpaulins as it is being renovated from the fire in 2007. We had a coffee in an interesting coffee shop on Greenwich high street, and then got the DLR back to Heron Keys. It was a little busier on the way back as schools had finished, so there were a few schoolchildren. We were safely taken back to Heron Keys, and the journey probably took 15 minutes.
- History -
Since getting back I have checked Wikipedia for some facts on the DLR:
It opened in August 1987 and reaches north to Stratford, south to Lewisham, east to Beckton and wet to Bank and the financial district of London, it is currently 31km long.
The trains are computer-controlled and usually have no driver (I'm so glad I didn't know that before we went on, but it probably explains why it felt like a theme park train!). A Passenger Service Agent (PSA) on each train checks for tickets and controls the door. (we didn't see any PSAs and didn't have our tickets checked).
- Future for DLR -
With the development of the Docklands as part of the 'Thames Gateway" and the Olympics in 2012, there are several extensions and enhancements being planned. See Wikipedia for the enhancements which include upgrading stations so they can cater for 3 carriage trains as well as some new stations and another new route across the Thames.
So if you are in London, and are stuck for something to do why not pay a visit to the Docklands area of London and have a go on the DLR! We bought a zone travel card day pass which was £7 and the DLR is covered within this.
Incidentally my hubby didnt get through the auditions, so you wont be seeing him soon on Gladiators - maybe next year :-)
I have been to London many times, but up until last year I had never been on the Docklands Light Railway. The DLR is not like your conventional underground for one obvious reason - it is above the ground! As I said I went on it for the first time last year when I was visiting a friend in Shadwell. I was amazed it's a great way to travel and actually see something of London (limited views of course)without sitting in traffic jams all day. My husband and I travelled on the DLR for a second time last September on our honeymoon, my friend took us to Greewich. The views that we saw were spectacular, particualary as we approached the Isle of Dogs, with the magnificent Canary Wharf Building looming over us. The views over the Thames was great and we could even see the redundant Millenium Dome. The only time we decended underground was to pass under the Thames to reach our final destiantion of Greenwich. I would recommend that anyone visiting London takes a trip on the DLR, just for the sights if nothing else. NB - Try to avoid rush hours, ie. before 10.30ish am and between 4.30pm to about 7.00pm.
Living in the docklands area I often use the DLR - Docklands Light Railway to travel around the locale. The DLr stretches from Stratford in the North and Beckton in the East to Lewisham in the South and Bank and Tower Gateway in the west. It offers excellent links to the Jubilee, Central, Northern and District underground lines and operates efficiently and to schedule in the majority. The DLR is computer controlled and is without the traditional train driver. Security onboard is provided by the train captain who also controls the doors to ensure you get on and off safely! The DLR offers great links to Canary Wharf for bars, restaurants and cinemas and to Greenwich for a day in the park and boasts some of the greatest views of the incredible docklands area. In short a really exciting, efficient and inexpensive way to get around London's East end.
The DLR is the fairly new railway running from either Bank to Lewisham or Stratford to Lewisham it is totally fabulous the trains are regular they run on time, they really have found the best mode of transport in London. On top of this you really get great views of previously hidden parts of london like all the wharfs, a great close up of the Dome, Canary Wharf. I wish I had this facility to go all over London as I always seem to find trains on the underground breaking down on the rare occasions I use them, I try to avoid the tube, especially as I have a 3 year old.