This may look like an ordinary dot-matrix display on a DLR train, but look again. The destination is West Ham, and DLR trains don't go to West Ham. Not yet, anyway. They will do once the extension to Stratford International opens, but as yet there's no definite date for that. Originally this new line from Canning Town was due to open in Summer 2010, but that slipped to September 2010, then late 2010, then January 2011, now probably late spring 2011, maybe even summer 2011. Signalling problems are to blame, apparently, plus local lowlife stealing the new cable. But the line will definitely be up and running by September when the new Westfield shopping centre opens.
This new DLR line is due to connect Stratford International station to the rest of London's train network... and about time! Since December 2009 passengers for High Speed services have had to board a bus from the end of Stratford platform 11 and be driven through an Olympic building site to reach Stratford International's ticket hall. There still aren't many passengers, to be honest, what with Stratford "International" being London's largest transport white elephant, but maybe a DLR connection will help to boost traffic. The photo's showing a scrolling DLR display, by the way, because the station name's too long to fit on the dot matrix screen all in one go.
I wonder how many tourists are going to end up at this station by mistake. Abbey Road will be another new stop on the DLR extension, a short distance north of West Ham, and to the best of my knowledge the Beatles never visited nor marched over any local zebra crossing. There was once a Cistercian abbey, founded in 1135, but Henry VIII had that closed down and virtually no trace remains. So you're unlikely to want to visit this particular Abbey Road, not unless you live nearby. It'll be interesting to see how passenger numbers build up, if indeed they do, and whether the DLR link works as a catalyst for further development.
Here's another new station with an unfamiliar name. Star Lane will be located between West Ham and Canning Town, and sits astride the old North Woolwich Silverlink line (which closed at the end of 2006). The new station already looks shiny and complete, and has done for many months, but as yet there's no sign of the platforms opening, the barriers coming down and DLR services running through. They'll be slow stopping services too, running parallel to the 'express' Jubilee line, so I expect the great majority of passengers to carry on using the latter because skipping Star Lane will be much quicker.
Hang on, what's this? There is no DLR station called Thames Wharf, neither is any such station being built. But there might be one day, on the Woolwich line south of Canning Town, because passive provision was made when that extension was built. The surrounding area's currently one of the emptier bits of Silvertown, where post-industrial redevelopment has yet to get off the ground, so trains won't be stopping here until there's something worth stopping for. Still, if the DLR's scrolling displays have been enabled for stations that don't exist yet, let's applaud the value-for-money that this electronic future-proofing brings.
But this has me baffled. I can find no evidence anywhere on the internet that a DLR station at "Bow Creek" has ever been considered. I can't even work out where such a station would go, unless it's planned for the middle of the Bow Creek nature reserve (and that would be lunacy). There might be additional unplanned DLR stations hidden away in the dot matrix system, but don't expect to see them flashing up in the future. There's no more money for DLR developments, no more funding, so the Stratford International extension looks like being the network's last hurrah. Coming not very soon, to a neighbourhood not very near you.