Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London
The London Underground (Tube) and the big, red London bus are well-known to tourists from around the world. There is, however, another mode of transport in London that I think visitors should explore. It is the Docklands Light Railway, known locally as the DLR.
Starting at either Bank (Tube interchange with Central, District, Circle and Northern lines) or Tower Gateway (short walk to Tower Hill underground station, District and Circle lines) it goes through the East End and all the way to Lewisham.
As the name suggests, it is a light rail system which runs mostly overground. The title of this page refers to the fact that there are no drivers and the whole system is computer operated. There are train "captains" on board who are basically ticket inspectors.
A trip will take the traveller right through the relatively recently redeveloped Docklands area, with great views of Canary Wharf etc. It then goes through a tunnel under the Thames before emerging at Greenwich. Alight here for the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Maritime Museum and all the other attractions of that particularly pleasant part of London.
It then continues two stops to Lewisham where there are train connections to Central London and Kent.
A nice day out is to get the DLR from the city as far as Greenwich and then return via boat to central London again.
Visitors should be aware that a bus / tube travelcard is valid on the DLR.
Update January 2013.
This was one of the first tips I wrote when I joined VT and it is perhaps not one of my best as I wasn't really sure how to go about it. I happened to use the DLR yesterday and thought I had better update this as there have been a lot of changes since I originally wrote the tip.
Firstly, there has been a lot of investment in new rolling stock to replace the old stuff which had been there since the network opened. The old trains weren't bad but the new ones are very comfortable. Another pleasing development is that there appear to be a lot less weekend engineering works than there used to be.
Perhaps most importantly is theat there is a brand new route linking Tower Gateway or Bank in the City via London City airport to Woolwich Arsenal. I didn't mention in the riginal tip but there were other routes to Beckton and Stratford which still run and the latter has even been extended to link in with Stratford International mainline rail station. All in all it is a pretty good system and I quite enjoy travelling it. The Lewisham route via Greenwich is still recommended for visitors for the view mentioned. Alight at Cutty Sark for the attractions, not Greenwich station as it is further away.
Good, I am glad I got that sorted as I hate it when my tips are out of date and /or not complete.
District Light Railway (DLR) is unique in the UK as its trains run without drivers. So don't be surprise and enjoy the view from the top of the carriage. Must admit that the trip was a little bit shaking. But this trip was very convenient and quick from my arrival at London City Airport to Bank station (only 22 minutes).
Since opening in 1987, the Docklands Light Railway has been central in the regeneration of East London. The system started with two main 'arms', running north-south and east-west, intersecting in the suburb of Poplar, but by 2012 will have another crossroads at Canning Town. One of the first light rail systems in Britain, with one of the world’s safest and most advanced automatic train control systems, DLR has expanded faster than any UK railway.
Today DLR is a £1 billion, 31km railway with 38 stations and 94 vehicles; with passenger numbers expected to increase to 60 million within the next two years.
Update August 2014: additional photos added
For me, as a long-time Londoner, the Docklands Light Railway (usually shortened to DLR) still feels like a recent addition to our transport options, although its first (short) stretch opened 23 years ago! It now provides a good network of connections around much of east London – not only Docklands as you would expect, but also down to Lewisham in the south east, up to Bow in the City, and connecting in the west at Bank to the main London Underground network (in addition to the Docklands connections to the Jubilee line at Canary Wharf and Canada Water). By 2012 there will also be an extension north to Stratford, linking London City Airport directly to the Olympic Park.
It claims to have “one of the world's most advanced automatic train control systems”, meaning that the trains have no drivers. As the website below explains:
” While trains may appear to stop and start of their own accord, the DLR is operated through a computerised system that is closely managed and monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the DLR control centre. Control centre staff have access to a visual overview of the entire DLR network displaying exactly where each train is along the railway at any given time.”
Despite the initially unnerving absence of any obvious human control over the trains, I have always found the DLR a pleasant way to travel, and a trip out to Docklands to ride it and see the striking modern architecture is a great way to while away a few hours. If you have an Oyster card (see my tip on the London Underground), you can use it on the DLR too. The DLR network covers zones 1, 2, 3 and 4, and fares are the same as elsewhere in London (currently, in February 2011, that’s £1.90 for a single zone if you have an Oyster (a whopping £4.00 without!) and £3.10 for a four zone journey – all adult prices).
The DLR is a dedicated railway that runs from the City through Docklands or east London to Woolwich, Lewisham (via Greenwich) and Beckton. I took my first trip on the line in December 2009 from City Gateway (near the Tower of London) to Canary Wharf and then on to Greenwich. The trains are automatic and do not have a driver - only an operative who sits on the left at the front and operates the doors but presumably can take over driving if needed.
The ride is certainly an experience as the train accelerates quickly away from Tower Gateway and races Southend bound trains leaving nearby Fenchurch Street. The line twists and turns sharply as it weaves through the high buildings of Docklands. The stations are close together and as you leave one you can more or less see the next one a short distance ahead. Just before Island Gardens the line falls underground to go under the Thames before rising again in Greenwich for the completion of ride to Lewisham.
Disabled friendly throughout. Trains are frequent and there is no need to check times - simply turn up and there will be a train within minutes.
For London connections to the Underground - the DLR has two terminii - Bank and Tower Gateway. Tower Gateway is a 5 minute walk to Tower Hill station in the open whereas Bank is all underground but the DLR platform is a long way from tube lines. However it is undercover but a long walk on differing levels (there are lifts).Change trains at Shadwell as you come in to London if you want the alternative station to the one your train is travelling to.
A great addition to London's transport system that has been created to meet the needs of Docklands since that area was redeveloped for residential, leisure and business purposes. The trains are driverless and very efficient. There is normally a DLR employee on board to make sure everything is okay and check tickets etc. The whole network is computer controlled and it is quite noticeable that when you need to change trains the other train will wait for passengers getting off the first one. If you have a travelcard or season ticket for London this will cover fares on the DLR.
The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is the main means of transport in this district of East London characterized by its many waterways and interesting mixture of new developments and old, run-down buildings. I found the DLR very easy and fun to use, the high-up tracks providing a great overview of the area. Very good wheelchair access with all of the stations having lifts.
NOTE FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS
The terminus of one of the DLR lines is bank station where the DLR is submerged deep down below the surface and where the lifts consequently are down rather than up. The lift down from the street level is situated in King William Street, about 100 yards from where it merges with Lombard Street, and you need to use the intercom to call someone to operate the lift for you and guide you through the maze of subterranean walkways. Almost a small adventure of its own!
Tower Gateway is a Docklands Light Railway station near the Tower of London on Tower Hill.
It was opened in 1987 as the original western terminus of the initial DLR system, serving the City of London financial district, but has now been by-passed by the later tunnel extension to Bank which diverges from the original routing between Tower Gateway and Shadwell, the next station to the east.
The junction between the original line and the ramp connecting to the later tunnelled extension to Bank is just to the east of the station, and can be clearly seen from the east end of the station platform.
If you are thinking of taking a trip out to Greenwich or Canary Wharf in the Docklands I would suggest that you travel by Docklands Light Rail (DLR). The DLR is a driverless train which connects the docklands east end as well as the London City airport to the City of London. The London DLR terminals are Tower Gateway (a short walk from Tower Hill) and Bank. All DLR stations have disabled access and operate 5.30am to 12.30am Mon-Sat and 7am to 11.30pm on Sundays, you can use your oyster card to travel on this service tapping in and out at the yellow reader even though there are no barriers otherwise you will be fined. The train ride can feel like a mini rollercoaster ride and its fun to sit in front to video the trip or perhaps pretend you are a train driver. With lots of twists and turns diving in underground and over ground this is a very innovative way of travel, it has one of the worlds most advanced automatic control systems
The easiest way to get to Greenwich and see all the attractions there is by DLR – Docklands Light Railway. Although it looks a little different, it is part of the London Transport network and you can use it as if it would be a normal tube. Perhaps the only obvious differences are the different trains and that there are no turnstiles. If you want to go to Greenwich, take a train from Bank station as the trains leaving Tower Gateway usually go eastbound and you will need to interchange at Westferry. Your travelcard for zones 1 and 2 (which is the one most people buy) is valid on the DLR – line from central London to Greenwich but not on the branch east from “East India” station.
The Deely-Are aka DLR aka Docklands Light Railway is like the tube - but in one way only: it's a train and it takes you around London.
That's where the similarities end. The DLR, for the most part, is above ground - hallelujah! You can see out of the windows! This is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Also - DLR trains don't have drivers. This means the humble train passenger can sit at the front of the train, look out of the windscreen - and pretend to drive! Fantastic.
The DLR is a great way of whisking people from the city to Canary Wharf and beyond - either the directions of Stratford, Greenwich or London City Airport. It is possible to board without tickets - but gone are the days when you wouldn't get caught.
The Docklands Light Railway is an integrated part of the tube, and covers the Docklands, wich is a redeveloped part of London, including the business district of Cannery Wharf.
The docklands are undergoing heavy reconstruction there years with new highrise hotels, corporate HQ etc. springing up in the entire area.
The DLR is a branch of London transport, and is connected to the tube at a few stations such as bank. The DLR is a bit different though, as the trains are smaller and automated. It is still expanding, and is the only form of rail transport for eastern London - although all passes, oyster cards, etc. work on the DLR just as they would work on the tube - and the DLR is included on tube maps. If you're visiting areas like Greenwich or Canary Wharf, the DLR is probably the best public transport option.
I used the Docklands light Railway to get to and from Greeenwich,very efficient,clean and modern.
Lots of Underground staff there to help any lost travellers,they seem to have sorted out their act a bit.
I was very impressed with the station at Canary Wharf,excellent piece of modern architecture.
We used this train to visit Canary Wharf from Greenwich and then back to London. It's fun to get into the heart of the business district and even inside the buildings with the train. It's a good way to explore eastern London. Included with travelcards.
The DLR is quick and easy, although it is frustrating that so much of it is so high up in the air. The driverless trains zip around the whole of the Docklands area but the connections to the main tube system is awkward, to say the least.
t is essential, if you are using an Oyster Card that you log in and out before and after each journey: if not, the Oyster Card will be debited with a considerably larger sum than you might imagine. The card readers are sometimes a little difficult to find.