DLR to Thamesmead: the worst option?

Today was that wonderful day where the now-traditional annual announcement occurs about what will (or rather likely wont) happen with Thames river crossings. Every year this charade seems to occur which is then followed by millions pissed away on more reports and consultations.


I’ve previously written about crossings and the benefits of a London Overground link south from Barking Riverside to Abbey Wood via Thamesmead. That plan is on the new announcement but in a very vague way.

This years fun and games has the idea of the DLR to Thamesmead from Beckton. Probably the worst option.

It wouldn’t connect to Abbey Wood. So no link to Crossrail there, nor Thameslink with its planned links to Medway and various stations across London up to Luton, nor Southeastern (or London Overground if that happens) connections out to Kent and across South-East London.

DLR seen on Woolwich branch
DLR seen on Woolwich branch

Get a bus then, right? Well, the link road from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station is already at capacity after a Sainsbury’s supermarket was built along it last year.

Once 3000+ new homes line it as part of upcoming Housing Zones from Peabody plus other private developments like the proposed 30-storey tower in Abbey Wood, it will be gridlocked unless major changes occur.

UPDATE: They listened and widened Harrow Manorway with dedicated bus lanes. There’s still a pinch point though bu the petrol station.

To the north the DLR option of course misses out on a link to Barking and numerous links that a London Overground would offer such as C2C trains to East London and the City plus fast trains to Essex. There’s also tube lines like the District and Hammersmith & City from Barking plus London Overground to north east and north London. The DLR links in with none of that like London Overground extended from Barking would provide.

The DLR certainly has benefits – just less than other options. It would offer Thamesmead residents a slow trundle to Custom House Crossrail in about 20 minutes before change was needed.

It does though offer scope for more stations in Thamesmead itself than London Overground, particularly near Tripcock Point where housing can only commence with better transport, plus offering a good chance to rebuild and reorganise the crappy retail-barn excuse for a town centre.

A Tram?

Given this plan wouldn’t see the DLR head to Abbey Wood station, plus it likely being on an ugly viaduct if so, then why not a tram? It could go from Abbey Wood to Thamesmead at-grade level, have numerous stops which is something the DLR offers over London Overground, and then once north of the river link to both the DLR and then head to Barking and all it’s connections. It fulfills the best of the DLR and LO.

Another stretch could head west from Thamesmead to Woolwich Crossrail, then through Charlton Riverside with it’s thousands of homes coming over the next decade, before terminating at North Greenwich tube.

That was the plan for Greenwich Waterfront Transit about 10-15 years ago, which started off as a tram and then was reduced to a very expensive re-working of the 472 bus with no frequency increase. But now, with all the homes coming at Thamesmead, Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich, it would offer a compelling case for resurrection.

Other plans

Other plans announced today seem to ignore Belvedere and Thamesmead road crossings but continue with the idea of more traffic at a Silvertown tunnel. All the thousands moving into developments on the Peninsula, Canning Town and the Royal Docks will love that.

And another tunnel wont do much if the approach roads stay the same. Quite a few developments are underway nearby:

Silvertown tunnel northern portal site
Silvertown tunnel northern portal site

There’s also mention of a pedestrian and cycle link from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf which is a great idea but no mention of similar from Greenwich Peninsula to Canary Wharf.

UPDATE: The pedestrian bridge has been scrapped.

Greenwich Peninsula of course has 15,000 homes (UPDATE: Now 20,000) being built and the Jubilee is expected to cater for most, despite major developments also beside Stratford station, plus West Ham, Canning Town and Canada Water.

New development by Canning Town station
New development by Canning Town station

What is mentioned is a ‘river bus’. So people in Rotherhithe get a free crossing and those in Greenwich have to pay?

And will this river bus be 24/7? Of course it won’t, and it wont run with fog, a high tide etc and all the other things that blight river based transport.



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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    8 thoughts on “DLR to Thamesmead: the worst option?

    • Given the number of new homes and the cruise terminal it’s amazing that there is nothing in the offing to connect old Greenwich to north Greenwich tube.

      Is there not even going to be a monorail!?

    • Funny you mention that. There have been closed door discussions about connecting ‘Old Greenwich’ to North Greenwich tube via an extension of The Dangleway – which would include an intermediate hop on/hop off ‘station’.at the proposed Cruise Liner Terminal. No site for the western terminus of the Maritime Greenwich-Enderby Wharf-O2-Excel Centre route has been decided but options include incorporation into the redevelopment plans for the old Arches Leisure Centre site.

      • That would be magnificently slow and expensive..and how would the hopping on and off even work? If you’re gonna extend the cable cars at least make it to canary wharf, although I can;t imagine this to be delivered in a cost-effective way. Agree that a dlr would be much more useful there (maybe down to kidbrooke)

        Regarding the Thamesmead DLR, is the option to Abbey Wood outright thrown out, or are we maybe going to hear another glorious announcement to extend it next year?

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    • A branch off from Cross Rail to serve Belmarsh and Thamesmead? or the mainline at Plumstead? Or even the Jubilee? (that is partly why there is a third platform at North Greenwich – although Stratford to Canary Wharf is fairly heavily loaded already)

    • My idea was to get Network Rail to build a spur line from the HS1 line to the existing Abbey Wood line with Thamesmead on that line and then connecting onto the Abbey Wood line to Dartford and beyond.

      So the route would go:

      St Pancras International
      Stratford International
      (Run underneath the River Thames)
      And then the high speed link to Ramsgate

      A circular bus should then be introduced to operate around the Abbey Wood Station and district to serve Thamesmead station

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    • Thamesmead needs locomotive transport, largest town in the UK without a locomotive station


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