New train services from DLR Mudchute

New train services from DLR Mudchute

Its generally assumed the bay platform 3 at Mudchute sees no regular traffic and perhaps only when there’s engineering works or an operating issue that trains get routed into the bay platform. With the enhanced May 2023 timetable upgrade however there’s been a considerable number of Lewisham to Stratford trains added to the schedule besides those that already operate from Canary Wharf to Stratford. A number of these continue into the evening and this of course needs extra stock to cover the longer duties. A couple of these services indeed do start from Mudchute’s bay platform!

In the older days trains did indeed terminate short of their destinations south of Canary Wharf but this was never any original aspiration when the railway was first opened. Trains could if necessary, be reversed at Crossharbour via a trailing crossover to the south but this was in terms of emergency or operational issues. It was only whe the line to Lewisham was opened that a proper siding was built at Crossharbour and from that point onward in 1999 trains regularly terminated at Crossharbour. With the DLR enhancement programme completed just ten years later Crossharbour trains dwindled and over the last few years have been virtually non-existent. To add to that the DLR enhancement programme in fact saw a new third platform at Mudchute built but that rarely, if ever, got used in public service.

DLR at Mudchute with a Bank train at left, Stratford at right. The latter is the 15.27 departure from platform 3.

With the new intensive DLR timetable service offered from May 2023 including a considerable increase of trains on the Stratford to Lewisham route, Crossharbour is once again used as a regular reversing point, and for the first time ever, Mudhcute has seen regular timetabled trains use its bay platform! These services are not without caveat however. They only operate in the northbound (Stratford direction) thus one cannot get a southbound DLR train with Crossharbour or Mudhcute as the destination (except in times of emergency or operational issue.) This DLR 2023 service enhancement therefore carries an oddity not seen before!

This train is for (and from) Mudchute!

The train times are: Mudchute (bay platform 3) 15.27 and 15.52. Crossharbour 15.37 and 16.01. The former is of course of great interest to enthusiasts however getting those trains isn’t exactly reliable. Some days they don’t run – perhaps because the DLR is having problems or Mudchute’s platform 3 is occupied by a train awaiting attention.

DLR train turns up to form the 15.52 to Stratford!

Despite the fact the new 2023 timetable offers novel train services from Mudchute platform 3, its just two a day to be exact! This is in addition to two more from Crossharbour and that adds four extra duties to the busy Lewisham to Stratford route. According to the Monday to Friday working timetables there are no others, not even any balanced return workings so its just the one way northbound services from Mudchute. Even that isn’t cut and dried as has been mentioned earlier. One might arrive at Mudchute in order to do some track bashing and find there’s no services from the bay platform! Its a situation that’s been seen a few times – so reliability isn’t an exact science – nevertheless these extra services increases the frequency of the DLR’s pm peak service.

No doubt Crossharbour would have at one time been the preferred starting point, however Mudchute is perhaps more convenient for several reasons. One is that it has Crossharbour and Greenwich in either direction. What that means is when problems do arise then (possibly) Crossharbour but perhaps more likely Greenwich can be used to reverse these additional Stratford services. For example should there a be train unable to depart (perhaps it has technical problems and is awaiting attention) and Crossharbour siding is occupied, the Mudchute trains can instead be reversed at Greenwich to begin their journey northward. One such example involving unit no.57 is described below.

At 15.11 No. 57 was observed on its way to Greenwich to reverse. Muchute platform 3 was occupied by stricken units 40, XX, 81 & Crossharbour by unit 32 waiting to form the 15.37. No.57 was observed at Canary Wharf on time at 15.34. Greenwich to Crossharbour takes around 6 minutes, then 11 mins to Canary Wharf plus say 3-4 minutes for the crossover at Greenwich thus evidently No.57 had just enough time to do this further distance.

From the above scenario if there is anything amiss the trains will probably be dispatched from the depot later than the usual allotted time in order that they do not occupy the tracks for longer than is necessary at Greenwich and therefore return north immediately to begin their public duties towards Stratford.

No.57 at Canary Wharf 23 minutes after it was spotted passing Crossharbour en route to Greenwich! And at 15.34pm its on time!

These Mudchute (and Crossharbour) services are formed by sending trains empty from Poplar depot where these then begin passenger service northbound to Stratford. The first leaves Poplar around 14.40pm and arrives at Mudchute approx 14.52 thus it spends a fair bit of time on the platform. The second leaves Poplar around 15.20 and arrives at Mudchute at approx 15.32 thus it spends about eight minutes in the Mudchute bay. Both services go to Stratford and these (and the Crossharbour ones) are ‘Line 26’ services (this is the particular circuit the trains will work and there are a quite a few of these that cover the DLR network) – hence that’s Mudchute or Canary Wharf to Stratford. Therein they take up service on ‘Line 75’ that’s Stratford to Lewisham and later return to a Line 26 diagram in order to complete their public duty at Canary Wharf and run empty to the depot. The situation is similar for the Crossharbour services.

Conversely there are no balancing timetabled public trips at all to either Crossharbour or Mudchute platform 3 at any time. All the later evening services terminate at Canary Wharf and where necessary are dispatched to the depot from there. Anyone looking to ride the crossover from the north into the bay platform would have to wait until there was some other need to divert trains at Mudchute – such as operational issues or perhaps engineering works which closed the line south of the station.

Rare to see a DLR train with Mudchute as its destination! No.131 waits to form the 15.52 to Stratford.

No doubt this handful of public train services from Mudchute platform 3 depends on the DLR not having problems. A good operational day will see passenger trains from Mudchute’s bay platform whilst a bad day will in all probability see none. As has been shown, if Mudchute’s bay platform is occupied by any other trains the extra Stratford services will possibly head to Greenwich and reverse there in order to commence their northbound passenger duty diagrams.

The video shown below is of a run from Mudchute’s bay platform to Crossharbour on a rainy day.

A rainy day rear view Mudchute Platform 3 to Crossharbour DLR service. Another Stratford peak hours service can be seen waiting at Crossharbour siding.