diamond geezer

 Sunday, August 16, 2015

This poster has recently appeared on every DLR platform.

Changes from next Sunday? How exciting! But, even though there's plenty of room underneath, the poster reveals no specific details.

The text goes on to point out there'll be further temporary changes at the end of the month for a major event at ExCel, but gives no details of those either. Then at the bottom of the poster there's a final line inviting you to "plan your journey at tfl.gov.uk". Or in other words, we're not going to tell you what the permanent changes are, go work it out for yourself.

DLR management have been keen to tell us less about their services over recent years. They used to post timetables and route frequencies at stations, now they only post vague service intervals and times of first and last trains. This non-announcement of a poster is merely a natural progression.

If you have the foresight to head to the DLR page on the TfL website, and find the right link, then some further information is provided.
Changes will include an increased frequency between Stratford and Canary Wharf and Stratford and Lewisham on Monday to Friday and at weekends.
Well that sounds good. But how much of an increase precisely? There are no clues, not unless you dig into the Journey Planner and experiment with several different starting dates and times. And even that's easier said than done, because recent changes to the Journey Planner mean that the default is now only to show you one journey, not the next few. But I've had a go, and I think the increased frequencies are as follows...

Stratford → Canary Wharf (peak): was every 6 minutes, will be every 4 minutes
Stratford → Lewisham (peak): was every 12 minutes, will be every 8 minutes
Stratford → Canary Wharf (inter-peak): was every 6 minutes, will be every 5 minutes
Stratford → Canary Wharf (weekend): was every 10 minutes, will be every 5 minutes

So hang on, this is great! In peak hours this means five more trains an hour on the Stratford branch, and far more through trains, and a whopping boost to capacity. And at weekends that's a doubling of frequencies, which for those of us who live along the route is excellent. I currently have to time my departure from the house carefully to avoid a 9-minute wait at Bow Church, but in future I'll have a genuinely turn-up-and-go weekend service on the DLR for the first time. Why are TfL not shouting this from the rooftops?
...as well as twice as many trains between Bank and Lewisham on Saturdays from 19:30 to 22:30.
This too is good news. Currently there's only one train to Lewisham every 10 minutes on a Saturday evening, but in the future there'll be one every 5 minutes. Again you'd think TfL would want to shout about the improvement, particularly as its the result of targeted investment, but instead they've hidden the figures in the Journey Planner, and in a brief summary sentence on their website.
The current Beckton to West Ham service will now operate between Beckton and Canning Town.
That's no great loss. The West Ham service was a brief and lacklustre attempt to serve the Stratford International line, but nullified by the trains running precisely one minute behind an existing service. Good riddance, basically.
Please note that last train times will be earlier on some routes.
Oh, so it's not all good news. As the Night Tube approaches, it appears last trains on the DLR are getting earlier instead! But on which lines, and by how much? This could be crucial information for some people, but again the DLR's press department don't want to tell you, they want you to work it out for yourself.
Find out more about how this will affect your journey at tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey.
It seems the watchword now is personalisation, because the only person who knows what journey you actually want to make is you. If you'd be good enough to get your phone out and check your journey every time you travel on the DLR, and then follow the spoonfed instructions given, that'd be great. If there are new underlying patterns to your journey, maybe you'll work them out eventually and become a more independent traveller. In the meantime ssssh, it's a secret. Just turn up, you'll cope.

Sunday afternoon update: A new poster has appeared at DLR stations giving considerably more information. Its timing may be a coincidence.

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