The latest transport passenger figures are out and in the Period 1 of this financial year sees all forms of London rail under Transport for London operating seeing decent numbers.
Compared to 2019 levels, the DLR is now at 92 per cent which compares with TfL’s budget expectations of 80 per cent this year.
Of course, any individual period sees fluctuations owing to the timing of weekends, bank holidays, strikes and other issues but the numbers will be welcome.
They’re also strong figures given the Elizabeth line is now fully operating and operates from many areas where the DLR is situated and sees many passengers, including Woolwich, Stratford and the City.
Transport for London had always expected a fall in DLR passengers even before the pandemic once the Elizabeth line opened, so it could be argued it’s at or about the level expected long before the pandemic.
To those who use the network though this may not seem a great surprise. Travel along pretty much any branch and mass development is evident.
I won’t list everywhere, but just yesterday I covered work starting on Woolwich leisure centre with 482 homes directly beside Woolwich Arsenal DLR station. There’s many, many others in Woolwich too closer to the DLR than the Elizabeth line.
As great as the Elizabeth line can be, it’s simply handier sometimes on the DLR not only if heading to certain destinations (Stratford for example is direct with no change) but also saves a walk along cramped, narrow pavements and crossing a dual carriageway that Woolwich station presents heading from the south.
Cross the Thames and there’s many sites seeing thousands of new homes along the branch at North Woolwich and Silvertown:
Canning Town is seeing a 32-floor tower rise as well as blocks directly opposite the station entrance.
These are the next phases of Hallsville Quarter.
Heading up to Stratford?
Well, there’s a major development beside West Ham station that will total 3,800 homes and then plenty more in Stratford, including a tower and 380 homes to the north beside Stratford International station.
And these are but a fraction of what’s happening now, let alone what is proposed. The Beckton branch has new homes in Beckton itself and near Royal Victoria station.
Lewisham of course is seeing vast changes with many homes due to complete at Lewisham Central before the year is out.
Greenwich? Well, plenty of plans keep coming in there too.
And while the Department for Transport seek rail cuts (Greenwich for example saw Southeastern Metro services halved in December 2022), TfL are investing in new stock to capitalise on growth.
Granted, much funding there comes from another branch of Government related to Housing.
Perhaps if rail was in the hands of another body it too could seek housing funds to help improve transportation, but Southeastern and network Rail rarely seem aware of major developments in the area.
New DLR trains are due to enter service before April 2024, and the most recent TfL board meeting showed 12 are now complete with testing underway.