Docklands Light Railway three-car capacity enhancements

  • £200m project to boost railway capacity for significant increases in patronage, and accommodate visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games.
  • Enhancements to the railway infrastructure and at 19 stations to enable three-car running.
  • Multidisciplinary project involving over 200 Arup staff.


Arup is leading the engineering design on a major project to increase the capacity of the railway infrastructure on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

Stadia for the London 2012 Olympics are adjacent to the DLR line and a significant increase in passenger numbers is predicted for this part of east London. The future economic growth of the area is highly dependant on increasing the supporting infrastructure.

Arup is lead designer to the main contractor on this complex and demanding design and build project, involving track and permanent way enhancements at nineteen locations on the DLR network to enable 3-car trains to be introduced. The existing urban environment means many of the sites are very constrained. 

Following production of Approval in Principle (AiP) submissions, Arup produced detailed design ‘construction’ drawings with full documentation and certification.

The engineering design included determining the strengthening requirements of the existing DLR structures to cope with a longer fatigue life, the additional loading, platform extensions and station remodelling at 19 stations to accommodate longer trains, and track modification for improved throughput.

Designing grade separated railway junctions – tracks crossing at different heights – increases the number of trains that can run on the network.

Arup’s design approach maximised the sustainability of the project, with initiatives such as re-using the deck of existing viaduct by repositioning at a different alignment to avoid its demolition and removal.

The multidisciplinary project involved over 200 Arup staff from international offices. The project team ranged from permanent way, civil and geotechnical engineers, to acoustics, environmental and landscape specialists

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  • Docklands Light Rail train. Credit Daniel Clements.Open gallery

    The DLR network is preparing for strong growth in passenger numbers