The next train to Westfield Stratford isn’t until rush hour…

Lots of people out and about yesterday indulging their inner geek on the Docklands Light Railway’s long-awaited new extension. Tourists hunting for Shakespeare at Stratford can now be joined by those searching for the Beatles at Abbey Road in getting completely lost in the back streets of West Ham.

I’d love Newham Council to put a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road station.

Most of it isn’t strictly a new line – it’s the old North London Line from Canning Town to Stratford with a couple of new stations added and an old one brought back to life. The new bit is the real reason why it’s here, though. Turn left out of the station and the Olympic athletes’ village is under construction. Turn right, and there’s Westfield Stratford City, which opens on 13 September.

So, with a direct line from Woolwich Arsenal to the new shopping centre, how is Transport for London aiming to take pressure off the Blackwall Tunnel and encouraging shoppers to take the DLR across the Thames to Stratford City?

By restricting the direct Woolwich-Stratford service to rush hour, unfortunately. Weekends and during the rest of the day, the service runs to and from Beckton, serving the University of East London and ExCel, which is where DLR thinks the trains are needed.

I can’t help thinking the lack of an all-day service on both branches, particularly from Woolwich, is going to be proved a mistake – there’s going to be a lot of demand for Westfield Stratford City, and a lot of people who won’t fancy dragging bags up and down the grim interchange at Canning Town. Plus experience in Shepherds Bush shows that a Westfield means traffic gridlock – so why not get people to take the train from day one?


  1. Going shopping with young kids is not easy. I was quite looking forward to being able to go directly to Westfield from Woolwich. Boo!

  2. There has been no direct Stratford-Lewisham service since July last year, apart from a tiny number of trains in the morning peak only. I was hoping with the new timetable introduced on Tuesday that the all-day service would be reinstated, but no such luck, if anything there are even fewer trains. Passengers south of Canary Wharf endure a rubbish service. DLR does not seem to care that traffic to Stratford will increase enormously once Westfield opens, and is not adapting services to cater for the demand.

  3. Didn’t they misjudge the demand at Woolwich Arsenal when it opened and then had to put on more shuttle trains to Canning Town, in order to cope? Not surprising as the powers that be have always underestimated the demand and leave SE London with poor river crossings.

    It will be interesting to see how demand grows with Westfield, and copes with the planned developments along the Royal Docks further up the line. Also interesting to see the effect on Woolwich of Westfield being so close. I can’t see it having a massive dent for Woolwich, but it can’t help it in its current state.

  4. I’d wager the restricted service is deliberate to gauge demand – if it’s deemed very popular, then they will increase frequency, depending on whether they have enough trains. Plus, they must be starting slowly so that they can deal with any teething issues one year before the Olympics.

    On a side note, I’ve never had any issues with the service south of Canary Wharf. Maybe the new extension will increase the frequency, I don’t know.

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