London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR) will be celebrating its 30th birthday later on this year and has rapidly become a very successful light rail system. Within the first year of its opening, 6.7 million passengers used the line which now compares to the 112 million passengers a year. This huge surge in demand was underestimated and now the DLR has been criticised for having been designed without meeting a sufficient future capacity. Now Transport for London (TfL) are searching for a supplier to build the next generation DLR carriages. The 43 new walk-through trains will increase capacity by over 30 percent, will be more reliable and provide customers with real time information, air-conditioning and mobile device charging points by 2022.
"Passenger use is set to continue to grow when the DLR network interchanges with the Elizabeth line from 2018."
Danny Price, TfL's Director of DLR, said: 'These new trains will enable us to increase capacity on the DLR by 30 percent, significantly improving the comfort, reliability and quality of our service for customers. Ordering them now ensures that we get the best value for money in the long term and can support continuing growth in east London. We intend to go out to tender later this year with the new trains entering service from 2022.'
Passenger use is set to continue to grow when the DLR network interchanges with the Elizabeth line from 2018. Services between central London, Shenfield and Abbey Wood will interchange with the DLR at several stations - Canary Wharf, West India Quay, Stratford and Custom House - where new platforms, a new ticket hall and entrance are being constructed.
Significant redevelopment is taking place in and around the Docklands area which the DLR serves; in the Royal Docks alone, up to 36,500 jobs and 7,000 homes are being created. To support this growth, TfL will replace two thirds of the existing trains, some of which are 25 years old, and order an additional ten new trains to provide even more capacity.
Why is a new fleet needed?
With the oldest carriages being only 25 years old, it begs the question, why do they need to be replaced so soon? The Bakerloo line still operate train carriages which were first installed in 1972. Current DLR carriages have a top speed of 62mph and are driverless. B2007 units were purchased from Bombardier in 2005 and delivered between 2007and 2010. However, the light rail was originally built for single-car operation only and the upgrade required both strengthening viaducts to take heavier trains as well as lengthening platforms. Two thirds of the existing fleet of trains will be replaced and an additional ten trains will be added to the network.
TfL has published a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) seeking expressions of interest from the train manufacturing industry to build the new trains with improved performance and reliability. A formal Invitation to Tender is expected to be issued in later this year and a contract awarded in Summer 2018.
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