DLR reaches 25th birthday with longer trains and 86m passengers

The Docklands Light Railway has reached its 25th birthday after having notched up record numbers of passengers.

The embryo network linking Tower Gateway to the Isle of Dogs and to Stratford that ran alongside the Fenchurch Street Railway had just 11 automatic trains and 15 stations on its two routes when the Queen opened it in 1987 on a sunny August Bank Holiday. It carried 6,700,000 passengers in its first year.

But today the DLR has grown to 45 stations, 40 miles of track and carries 86 million passengers each year.

During the Olympics, it has carried 7.2 million people. On one day alone, August 3, it had 500,000 passengers.

DLR Director Jonathan Fox said: “We’ve broken all records thanks to years of preparation which included extra carriages and upgrading signalling.

“This legacy will ensure the DLR continues serving commuters and being part of the foundations for regenerating this part of London.”

New stations have been added, including the �5m Langdon Park opened in 2007 by the Mayor of London which brought an isolated area of Poplar onto London’s rail transport network for the first time.

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The DLR was extended to Bank in 1992, then under the Thames from Island Gardens to Cutty Sark and Lewisham in 1999 which made obsolete the Victorian railway arch viaduct in Millwall Park that the trains originally ran on—the arches have been preserved and are being renovated for community use.

Other extensions followed—to London City Airport in 2005 and to Stratford International last year.

The driverless trains had some teething troubles on their first day in 1987. Doors suddenly opened as one train pulled out of Island Gardens. The train ‘captain’ had to make an emergency stop.

That was minor compared to the devastation at South Quay nine years later when the IRA detonated a massive bomb in Canary Wharf in 1996. South Quay station was later rebuilt 200 yards down the line.