Docklands Light Railway Programme Management

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As Programme Manager for the £40m per annum Capital Projects portfolio on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), GHD has supplied two senior resources; one to undertake the Interim Programme Manager role itself and the other as Senior Planner. The portfolio currently includes around 20 projects that are identified as Olympic Projects, vital for the provision of the revised intensive timetable that will be in place for the London 2012 Olympics.

The Programme Manager is responsible for managing the full life cycle of projects entering the capital projects portfolio. Reporting to the Programme Manager are five project managers, a commercial manager, a senior planner and an assurance manager. Other resources are shared from within the programme office. The nature of the projects is wide-ranging, from station infrastructure such as buildings, M&E services, retail, lifts and escalators, to vehicles, network-wide engineering systems such as customer information, CCTV and PA, together with traction and LV power.

The DLR project lifecycle stages progress through Inception (Stage A), Feasibility (Stage B), Development (Stage C), Delivery (Stage D) and finally Close-out (Stage E). As Programme Manager, GHD is responsible for ensuring that sufficient information and support is provided to the Project Sponsor through Stage A to enable authorisation to be obtained at the Gateway to allocate each Project to proceed from the Inception into the Feasibility stage. The work carried out to support Gateway A includes agreeing with the Project Sponsor outline strategy on the following: -

  • Key project stakeholders
  • Project category (based upon magnitude of impact on operations and safety criticality)
  • Level of governance required
  • Outline programme
  • Budget estimate
  • Potential procurement routes
  • Maintenance responsibilities and obligations
  • Key risks
  • CDM arrangements


The ownership of the project remains with the promoting department at DLR until Approval in Principle (AiP) is achieved. Promotion of new projects can originate from a number of sources at DLR, including the Engineering, Planning and Franchise & Concessions departments. The benefit of the involvement of the programme manager in the Inception stage is that the projects are familiar and understood in advance of the handover to the programme manager after AiP is authorised, and that consistency is achieved with the inputs into the next project stage.

The Docklands Light Railway, in common with other project-based organisations within Transport for London, utilises Primavera P6 for project planning. The GHD Senior Planner collates and manipulates all programme information from the project managers to produce a P6 based master programme for the Capital Projects portfolio, and other portfolios in the DLR Investment Programme. This has provided the opportunity for the cost-loading of major projects within the portfolio, resource planning and automated calculation of earned value measures such as SPI and CPI.

The key achievement of GHD in the period of the commission so far, has been to rationalise the master programme, so that it accurately models the portfolio of work in terms of scope, schedule, dependencies and constraints within and between projects, and against external requirements. This has provided a realistic view of what is achievable, the timescales involved and the resources required in this operational environment. Workload for the Project Managers across the portfolio has been smoothed and key targets identified in order to improve performance of the team. The client has selected GHD to undertake this work at a vital time for DLR, with the London 2012 Olympics fast approaching and DLR set to play a key role in providing people with efficient access to the venues at the Olympic Park, Greenwich, Woolwich and Central London.

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