The Government gave approval on 26 February 2004 for an extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Woolwich, south London.

The £145million two-mile-long project will be a continuation of the DLR’s extension to London City Airport which is currently under construction.

The Woolwich link will involve the construction of bored tunnels under the Thames and a new DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal which will provide an interchange with main line rail services.

The announcement was made by transport minister Tony McNulty who said his department had approved the application under the Transport and Works Act.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: “It is excellent news. A DLR extension to Woolwich Arsenal would link Woolwich with the employment hub of the Docklands and would be a huge step forward in the continuing regeneration of south London and the Thames Gateway.”

The current extension to King George V via London City Airport is expected to be finished in 2005 and the new extension will offer direct services between Woolwich and London City Airport - in just four minutes - as well as to Canary Wharf and the City.

It is expected that the extension of the DLR to Woolwich will have a major effect on the regeneration of Woolwich town centre and the Royal Arsenal site.

“We’ve long campaigned for a DLR station at Woolwich because it forms a key part of the council’s drive to create a transport centre and fulfil Woolwich’s promise to be a major town centre in the Thames Gateway region," said Councillor Chris Roberts, leader of Greenwich Counci.

DLR Ltd (part of Transport for London) has also started the process of selecting a concessionaire to design, build and maintain the extension. The current programme assumes that construction will begin in mid-2005 and be completed by the end of 2008.

Railfuture has long campaigned for a rail link at this point although a properly integrated main line would have been preferable to a light railway.

Campaigner Simon Norton explains: "My prime concern is for freight. Together with a spur at Maidstone, a main line tunnel could have provided a direct route from the Channel Tunnel to Stratford,
avoiding the capacity problems that are likely to limit usage of the CTRL and providing a far quicker and less congested route to Eastern England than the
West London Line.

"Now it seems we'll have to wait until Crossrail - assuming that a suitable route is chosen and its capacity not preempted by passenger trains.

"Meanwhile we in Cambridgeshire will continue to have to put up with everlasting lorry traffic on the M11, A14 and A1."

Original information from DLR Press Office