Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

The DLR provides a vital link between east London and the City, serving Beckton, ExCeL, Canary Wharf, Stratford, Greenwich, Lewisham, London City Airport and Woolwich Arsenal, and interchanges with a number of different transport modes. Most of the network is either elevated or runs at surface level, although there are some sections of tunnel. The network is fully accessible.

Why plan?

Given the importance of maintaining a safe, reliable and efficient service on the network, all applications for planning permission which may have an impact on DLR will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The level of service and service patterns of DLR at a particular site should be correctly represented in any transport assessment (TA) and TfL will ensure that all proposals safeguard the performance of the network and protect its infrastructure.

Requirements for your planning application

For any TA which includes DLR, it is vital that the existing level of service and service patterns from all relevant stations are accurately represented. This will ensure the TA is robust. Service patterns and frequencies are subject to regular change.

View the current service pattern.

Based on the trip generation methodology, the TA should set out the number and likely patterns of additional trips generated by a development proposal on DLR. This will allow TfL to assess the need for any necessary mitigation.

To assist in this, present-day passenger counts and sample origin-destination matrices are available free of charge from DLR.

Whilst applicants are encouraged to obtain such information from DLR, any independent forecasts will be checked against the outputs from DLR's own modelling tools, including the Docklands Public Transport Model. Please note DLR planning capacity is normally 160 passengers per vehicle. Trains in service are made up of sets of either two or three vehicles - timetables specify which sets operate on which routes.

Only in very unique circumstances would TfL request that a developer carries out its own impact assessment using the Docklands Public Transport Model. This should be discussed with TfL as part of the formal pre-application process.

New developments in walking distance of DLR stations will be expected to provide for realtime information. Other appropriate mitigation will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but could relate to improvements to the infrastructure in or around stations, signage or the passenger experience.

Construction advice

There are restrictions on development in close proximity to the DLR network, in order to safeguard the safety of the railway and its passengers. A protection zone exists around the network where particular attention will be paid by TfL to ensure DLR is not put at risk. All activity within the protection zone will need specific consent of DLR.

Construction methodology should take account of the protection zone: DLR's approval of construction methodology may be secured by planning condition. Beyond the protection zone, common construction issues relate to the use of cranes, passenger access, wayfinding, and maintenance access. Mitigation to overcome these issues should be detailed in the TA and may need to be detailed in a construction methodology statement or similar, to be secured by condition and agreed with TfL. Note that DLR requires 24-hour access to any part of the railway for emergency response.

There are further specific issues relating to constructing tall buildings around the network. Buildings close to DLR may affect the radio communications used for operations: therefore, it is likely that a condition will be requested requiring the applicant to conduct 'before and after' tests on signal strength. The outcome of these tests would inform any necessary installation of signal boosters to mitigate such impacts.

Additionally, windows or balconies facing the railway are known to contribute to obstructions on the tracks - therefore, an applicant should design developments to have the minimum number of windows onto DLR as possible. The effect of DLR on levels of noise in new developments should be taken into consideration.

Particular attention will also be paid to the storage of any hazardous, explosive or flammable materials on the applicant's site.


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