DLR strike shows we need new Canary Wharf footbridge, Tower Hamlets councillor urges

PUBLISHED: 11:21 05 November 2015 | UPDATED: 13:42 05 November 2015

Queue on South Quay footbridge during DLR strike... the duck swimming in the dock isn't bothered [photo: Sergey Kharlamov]

Queue on South Quay footbridge during DLR strike... the duck swimming in the dock isn't bothered [photo: Sergey Kharlamov]

Sergey Kharlamov

A call for a new pedestrian footbridge at Canary Wharf has been made following scenes of chaos caused by the 48-hour strike on the DLR rail network due to end this-afternoon.

Hundreds of commuters normally taking the DLR from South Quay and Crossharbour stations have had to make their way instead to the Underground at Canary Wharf by crossing a single footbridge over the Millwall South Dock.

Cllr Andrew Wood, Canary Wharf ward member on Tower Hamlets CouncilCllr Andrew Wood, Canary Wharf ward member on Tower Hamlets Council

But the bridge won’t be able to cope much longer with those sort of crowds and will soon need to be replaced, Tower Hamlets’ local Canary Wharf ward councillor Andrew Wood is urging.

“The scene with commuters packed onto the footbridge from South Quay during yesterday’s rail shutdown shows how dependent the Isle of Dogs is on the DLR and on that one bridge,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“Tower Hamlets Council says this bridge won’t be fit for purpose by 2021. But you do wonder whether it will last even that long, withstanding the weight of so many people.”

The crossing itself uses half of the old bridge, so it doesn’t quite fit the gap, which is why there is a step down on one side, he points out.

Queuing just to cross footbridge at Canary Wharf [photo: Sergey Kharlamov]Queuing just to cross footbridge at Canary Wharf [photo: Sergey Kharlamov]

The council wants to build a new bridge and has started collecting money from developers.

But there is a dispute over where a new bridge would be built, Cllr Wood revealed.

“We need clarity on it’s location, who’s going to build it and when work starts,” he added.

“This congested walkway over the dock could be a bleak vision of the future as the infrastructure strains to cope with the population growth on the Isle of Dogs and with the new Crossrail station opening in 2018.”

The council wants South Quay Plaza, now being redeveloped, linked to Canary Wharf at Bank Street on the other side of South Dock. But it would block one of the moorings for the Canal & River Trust.

Options suggested by Cllr Wood include shunting the bridge further into the dock or removing it and building “a proper bridge”, then putting in a new swing bridge at the dock entrance to let vessels in.

Meanwhile, stressed passengers from the Isle of Dogs are cramming onto the footbridge, as seen in the pictures from commuter Sergey Kharlamov, to get to Canary Wharf Underground station.

They head for the alternative Jubilee Line to London Bridge, which has added to scenes of chaos with TfL having to put in crowd control measures such as shutting gates to clear platforms.

A TfL spokesman said: “The DLR takes 300,000 passengers a day, so people have had to find alternative ways to work.”

The strike called by the RMT union is due to end at 4pm today, in time for this-evening’s home-going rush-hour.

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