You weren't planning on using the Docklands Light Railway in or out of Central London were you? If so, do it today. Don't do it tomorrow. Everything goes completely pear-shaped tomorrow.
From tomorrow, Tower Gateway station closes. Completely, until next Easter. They're reshaping the station to take three-carriage trains. The new Tower Gateway station will have energy-efficient escalators and a new horseshoe shaped platform to speed boarding. (Hmm, just a single track rather than the current double, I can't quite see how this is going to futureproof capacity, but hey). Until April, though, Tower Gateway is utterly shut.
Never mind, because the DLR has another City terminus, and all their trains will be going there instead. It's Bank. Ah, damn...
Now we all know that this is a gross overstatement. Bank and Monument stations aren't anywhere near as disjoint as TfL would like to suggest, and most definitely haven't been blocked off for the last three months. TfL are just crying wolf to try to keep people away. But of all the lines at Bank, it's the DLR that's suffering most from passageway and escalator block-off. So, starting or ending your DLR journey at Bank may not be wise. Oh great, that's the entire complement of DLR Zone 1 stations buggered, until next year.
Never mind, because there's another DLR station less than a mile from Tower Gateway, and that's Shadwell. And there are alternative travel arrangements at Shadwell. Ah damn...
Well that's worse than useless. No direct link to the City there. Thankfully TfL have provided DLR passengers with a useful interactive map showing alternative options for attempting to travel between the City and Canary Wharf. But it's not a great list of suggestions...
Options 1 & 2 on the map involve using the DLR at Bank. Hang on, I thought Bank was definitely not recommended (there's some seriously inconsistent travel advice rattling around here). Or how about option 7 - take the Jubilee line? Except that's quite a walk (and it's not much use on the two weekends next month when this stretch of the Jubilee line is also shut). Other suggested options include the bus (aha, so that's why they introduced the 135), or the river (it could be a very long wait) or detouring via Bow or Stratford (great if you don't mind wasting your life to get there). The one option they've forgotten to mention is walking from Tower Gateway to Shadwell - it's less than a mile and almost certainly one of the quickest alternatives, but not a peep. What a motley mess.
And that's not all. From Monday yet another section of the DLR is being semi-closed for long-term work.
Well doesn't that sound like fun? What used to be a service with about three trains every 10 minutes will be cut to one, sometimes in one direction only. For two whole months. Don't worry, they're laying on rush hour replacement buses. Because commuters love rail replacement buses.
So, let's raise a glass to TfL's transport planners for the simultaneous buggering of at least four separate E/SE London travel options. » Bank/Monument: buggered until probably 2011. » Tower Gateway: buggered until April 2009. » East London line (and Thames Tunnel): buggered until June 2010. » Crossharbour to Lewisham (and another Thames Tunnel): buggered for the next two months. (oh, and there's a fifth closure nearby due soon, lasting two years, sigh)
Isn't joined-up thinking great? I know that all this major inconvenience is to provide for much needed improvements but, really, couldn't something wait? In the meantime, just stay out of the way until the lunatics have finished playing.