London City Airport Consultative Committee

DLR Extensions

Describes the schemes to extend the Docklands Light Railway from Canning Town to the London City Airport and beyond




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DLR Extension to Airport

The Route
The Airport;s HQ
London City Airport Station
Benefits for Airport Passengers
Hours of Operation
Service Pattern
First Year Monitoring Report
More Information?

DLR Extension to Woolwich

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DLR Extension to AirportLogo

THE Airport has always been very keen to see a fixed rail link direct to the Airport. It has thus been very strong in its support for this project to extend the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Canning Town to the Airport and on to North Woolwich. The railway opened for passengers on 2nd December 2005  

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It was on 7th March 2000, after extensive local consultation, that the DLR submitted an application for an Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 authorizing the scheme.  The publication of the scheme attracted objections into which there was a public inquiry between 17th October and 3 November 2000.  Click the following link for an extract from the Inspector's Report detailing his Conclusions and Recommendations (.pdf format 30k).  The Government's decision to approve the Order was announced on 19th March 2002.  Work on the scheme commenced early in March 2003 and passenger services started in December 2005.

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The Route

(Click here for a map - 76kb)

Canning Town to North Woolwich Road

The Extension leaves the existing DLR Beckton branch south of Canning Town at ground level. It then passes under the Lower Lea Crossing road using an existing underpass, and rises up on to an earth embankment to cross the Thames Wharf area on a viaduct and a further embankment. The route then remains on viaduct to the south of Dock Road and North Woolwich Road above existing industrial car parking.

Along North Woolwich Road

The route continues on a viaduct along the south side of the North Woolwich Road, above the landscaping, footpath and cycle way.

North Woolwich Roundabout to the Airport

The viaduct then crosses the North Woolwich roundabout and runs along the route of the former Silvertown bypass across Connaught Road. The viaduct approaches the Airport alongside a re-aligned Camel Road and Hartmann Road. The route then traverses the site formerly occupied by Drew Road Primary School to descend to ground level.

The Airport to North Woolwich

From the Airport, the route runs in a shallow cutting along the the southern edge of the Airport's land adjacent to the King George V Dock as far as North Woolwich.

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The basic construction cost of the scheme including contingencies, land, project costs and rolling stock was £140m. Funding was provided from a mix of sources.  The Government made available £30m from the capital Modernisation Fund and the London Borough of Newham secured contributions from developers and other beneficiaries of the scheme thorough planning agreements under s. 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  The Airport itself contributed through such an agreement.  The balance of the cost came from the private concessionaire who designed, built and financed the extension and will maintain it over a 30 year period.  The concessionaire is City Airport Rail Enterprise (CARE), a consortium of AMEC and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Their contract with the DLR, signed in February 2003, was worth £300m over the 30 year period.

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ConstructionDrew Road school under demolition

On 1st July 2003 CARE and AMEC briefed the Consultative Committee on the project and in particular the impact of the construction works on the local area - see the Minutes of that meeting for full details including this outline information on the phasing of the works:

April – July 2003

  • Design
  • Site Investigation
  • Preparatory Works and Site Clearance (e.g. Drew Road Primary School)

July 2003 – February 2004

  • Works at Thames Wharf (embankments and a facility for producing pre-cast beams for viaduct)
  • Piling - Peruvian Wharf to Thames Barrier Park
  • Construct cutting from London City Airport to North Woolwich
  • Start viaduct spans

March 2004 – March 2005

  • Complete viaduct spans
  • Stations (may be able to start these earlier where site is available, e.g. at London City Airport)
  • Install Electrical System
  • Install Automatic Train Control

March 2005 – December 2005

  • Testing and Commissioning

End of December 2005

  • Open railway

Throughout the project AMEC and CARE briefed the Committee on the progress of the works - for details see the Committee's minutes.  Some parts of the project moved ahead faster than others but overall the project was completed to schedule and in fact opened at the beginning of December 2005.

First trial train New LCY HQ

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The Airport's HQ

The project involved the relocation of the Airport's headquarters at City Aviation House and a number of other Airport facilities.  The Airport's HQ moved to its new office building, located nearer the Terminal, early in October 2004.

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London City Airport Station

The DLR station at London City Airport is built on an elevated structure. There are two entrances. One leads directly into the airport terminal, passengers enter the airport via an escalator and an enclosed linked building connecting the station to the front entrance of the terminal. The second entrance is located on Drew Road, to serve the local community.

Escalators at Airport Station DLR Train arriving from Bank Passengr leaving train at Airport Station
Train approaching Airport Station View alson platform at Airport Station Passenger ready to board DLR train at Airport station
Passenger leaving DLR train at Airport station Passenger waiting for train DLR train at Airport station Passenger leaving platform at Airport station


The project has involved only minor changes to the layout of the terminal forecourt. The design provides smooth integration with the connecting airport transport links, such as the bus and taxi services. There were no changes to the terminal building; the layout remains exactly as it always has. The approach to the airport along Hartmann Road has been realigned to accommodate the railway, which has been built along the old road. The new entrance of Hartmann Road is located where Camel Road used to join Connaught Road.

To make way for the station the old building of the Drew Road Primary School was demolished - see picture in Construction section above. The school has moved into new premises further south in Drew Road - see picture below right. These were built by agreement between the DLR, the London Borough of Newham and the London Development Agency.

In October 2006 the station scooped the Community Rail Award for the best ‘Local Transport Integration Project'. Described by the judges as “an excellent and a major improvement to transport access” the station was also commended for ”integrating many transport modes within a major city”, as it directly links the airport and neighbouring bus and walking routes to the DLR.  Airport passengers can be on the DLR platform from the airport terminal in just four minutes, while local residents using the station gain access via a fully-accessible street-level entrance. The station is also served by two large-size passenger lifts that accommodate people with restricted mobility, wheelchair users and pushchairs. In April 2007 the station was runner up in London Transport's Rail Station of the Year award. Drew Road School

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Benefits for Airport Passengers

The extension brings a new reliable surface access opportunity for airline passengers and airport visitors and staff, allowing them to get to the airport from Bank in about 22 minutes and from Canary Wharf within 14 minutes.  The Airport believes this will put the Airport firmly on the public transport map, helping to reduce car journeys by an estimated half a million a year. 

Some people fear that the initial benefits of the new line might not be as great as expected. These concerns arose when it emerged that the DLR had decided not to provide a direct service to the new business district at Canary Wharf from where many of the airport's passengers emanate. It would thus be necessary for passengers (and staff) wanting to travel between the airport and Canary Wharf to change trains at Poplar or Canning Town. This is not ideal as for the most part airport passengers are only going to be enticed to use the new surface if it provides a time saving for them over and above taking a taxi. While it would still be a fairly swift service having to change trains is never popular.

Following its meeting in April 2005 the Consultative Committee wrote to DLR expressing it's fears. In response to these concerns there were discussions between Airport and the DLR - see response from the DLR - but without result; for the time being the service does not include direct trains to Canary Wharf

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Hours of Operation:

View of DLR viaduct at Airport

Monday – Saturday :

The first train from Canning Town to serve London City Airport Station departs at 05:32 arriving at 05:38
The first train departs from London City Airport Station towards Canning Town at 05:31.  The last train departs at 00:31.

Sunday Services

The first train from Canning Town to serve London City Airport Station departs at 07:02 arriving at 07:08.
The first train departs from the London City Airport Station towards Canning Town at 07:01.  The last train departs at 23:28.

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Service Pattern:

Trains will depart from the London City Airport Station every seven – ten minutes
07 : 00 – 09:30 service to/from Canning Town every 7 Minutes, alternate trains continue on to Bank
16:30- 19:00 every 8 minutes to/from Canning Town , alternate trains continue on to Bank.
Outside of peak periods trains run every 10 minutes to/from Canning Town, alternate trains continue on to Bank.

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Monitoring Reports

Starting in 2007 DLR has each year published a Monitoring Report on the operation of the new line. Here are the first three such reports:

.pdf logo First Monitoring Report (9.83mb) .pdf logo Second Monitoring Report (2.5mb)
.pdf logo Third Monitoring Report (2.2mb)    

The findings of the Year 3 report were:

  • 14 million passengers used the London City Airport DLR extension since its opening in December 2006 at an average rate of 349,000 passengers each month. On average 12,900 passengers used the extension each day.
  • The DLR extension has been supporting high levels of growth in international business travel at London City Airport where passengers have increased from 1.471 million in 2003 to 3.27 million in 2008.
  • In the first three years 6.4 million DLR passengers travelled to and from London City Airport. On average 5,900 passengers used London City Airport station each day.
  • Passenger numbers have been more than double the original forecasts from 2004/5 in each of the first three years. The extension has stimulated significant new demand for travel with an average of 43% of all passengers in the first three years undertaking new journeys.
  • While the service reliability targets were achieved in Years One and Two, one target was missed in Year Three due to closures and disruptions resulting from a major
    programme of improvements to the DLR network, signalling and rolling stock.
  • Since opening in December 2005 93% of passengers state that the DLR extension has made their journey easier, 88% that it has made their journey quicker and 53% that it has made their journey cheaper.
  • There has been a 20% modal switch to public transport for airport passengers since opening of extension from 31% to 51%. Taxi or minicab usage has fallen by 12% amongst airport passengers and car usage has dropped by 9%.
  • Overall in the first three years of operation the DLR extension is estimated to have resulted in a saving of 3,710 tonnes of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide produced

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More Information?

For more information about the project see the Presentations given to the Airport Transport Forum at its meeting in December 2003 and September 2004.

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DLR Extension to Woolwich

ON 26th February 2004 the Department for Transport announced its approval of a submission under the Transport and Works Act for an extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Woolwich Arsenal.  The formal decision letter was issued on 26th February 2004.

The proposal to build this extension flowed out of DLR's work to develop the new line now being built from Canning Town to London City Airport and North Woolwich - see above. The consultations for that line revealed a lot of interest in carrying the new line under the River to Woolwich town centre.  Plans were thus drawn up.

Woolwich options mapThere was a public consultation exercise about the new line between August and October 2001. This showed strong support for the scheme and for DLR's preferred Option 1 involving a 2.5km route, mostly in bored tunnel. Leaving the City Airport line at King George V station in North Woolwich the new line would descend into a bored tunnel, passing under the River Thames and surfacing again near Burrage Road, alongside the Network Rail lines at Woolwich Arsenal Station.  A new DLR station would be constructed partly under Woolwich New Road with a new station entrance onto Greens End and Powis Street giving excellent access to the town centre and the new developments along the riverside and in the Royal Arsenal site.  Click the map (26k) for more details of the options.

At the start of work on the Woolwich Extension   Artists impression of the new DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal

Mayor Ken Livingstone with DLR MD Ian Brown at the start of work on the Woolwich Extension


Artists impression of the new DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal

It was felt that extending DLR to Woolwich would provide a useful and easy new route to the Airport for passengers going to and from places south of the River.  DLR also believed it would bring substantial benefits to the Woolwich town centre, to the communities in Woolwich and the surrounding area, to the development of the Woolwich waterfront, including the Arsenal site, and to those travelling by rail from North Kent into Docklands and the City.The New DLR Woolwich Extension Tunnel

DLR applied for the Transport and Works Act Order in July 2002.  The application attracted objections and there was a public inquiry early in 2003 following which it is understood that all the objections were successfully resolved.

Following approval of the Order in April 2004 the DLR began the process of selecting a concessionaire to design, build and maintain the extension and in December 2004 AMEC plc announced that its 50/50 joint venture with the Royal Bank of Scotland - known as Woolwich Arsenal Rail Enterprises (“WARE”) - had been appointed preferred bidder. 

The financial details of the project were settled in the early months of 2005 and the contract was signed on 1st June. The partners in the WARE consortium are the same those in CARE and the success of the WARE bid allowed the new line to be built as a seamless extension of the Airport Extension project with many of the team building the Airport Extension transferring to the Woolwich Arsenal project. Construction work got under under way in mid-June 2005 and train services on the new line began on 10th January 2009.

The contractor, Morgan Est, provided the Committee with regular updates on the progress of the works. These can be seen in the Committee's minutes.

For more information visit the DLR's website

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An independent Consultative Committee established by London City Airport pursuant to Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
John Adshead     Secretary: Stuart Innes

Page last modified: 18 February 2012