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?