Picture in Time: Docklands Light Railway 04

For our latest edition of “Picture in Time” we are off to the London for a view of the Docklands Light Railway on the second day of running: 1st September 1987.

The Docklands Light Railway in 1987 was a very different system to that we see today with only two lines being in operation: from Tower Gateway to Island Gardens and from Stratford to Island Gardens. Initially there were only 11 trains needed to operate this service with the P86 trains being constructed by Linke Hofmann Busch and services were run by single units (very different when compared to today’s triple units across many more lines). Opening on 31st August 1987 the system has grown tremendously in size in less than 30 years and shows just what can be achieved with light rail if politicians can be persuaded it is a good idea. As for the original trains they were sold in 1991 to Essener Vekehrs-AG and are now used on the Stadbhan network in Essen, Germany following conversion.

This view shows the original 04 running on the elevated section of the Docklands Light Railway on 1st September 1987.

Photograph taken by Nigel Pennick

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3 Responses to Picture in Time: Docklands Light Railway 04

  1. Ian says:

    Allegedly they were sold as they would be unsuitable for use in tunnels; Essen use them in tunnels! Other features such as, if I recall correctly, inward opening doors would be unsuitable with the much heavier passenger loadings since experienced.

    • Peter says:

      Effectively the P86’s when built did not meet the stringent fire regulations for use in the underground section to Bank, unlike their sisters of the P89 batch. This was one of the main reasons for the sale to Essen, where they were rebuilt extensively to conform to German regulations for use on the Essen network. Therefore it is a little unfair to make a direct comparison between not able to operate in tunnels in London versus running through tunnels in Essen.

      The other reason for their sale was the non conformance to the recently upgraded signalling system. Therefore instead of spending a considerable amount on upgrading the P86 to P89 standard, it was felt a better deal to sell them and invest in new stock.

  2. James palma says:

    funnily enough I rode on one of these many many years ago in Essen, long before I had been on the DLR. Now I use the DLR every day!

    DLR Is a fantastic system and I cannot help wonder how the daily congestion on the three car trains will be handled in future! I am sure Crossrail will help, but the amount of new housing development taking place may see it already congested on opening!

    While possibly not the right site to mention this, track has been laid for crossrail on the approach to Connaught Tunnel, near London City Airport. Presumably the first section of tunnel track to be laid. Quite exciting, I think!

    The first crossrail services also begin operating from 31 May, but branded temporarily as TFL rail, and run between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

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