What it takes to become an outstanding network by KeolisAmey Docklands in the UK

Since it started operating the Docklands Light Railway in 2014, KeolisAmey Docklands has achieved record-breaking metrics for operational performance and customer service. These records are not achieved by chance but thanks to its talented, committed workforce and constant attention to customers.

A network unlike any other

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) was opened nearly 35 years ago and has played a key role in rejuvenating east London and developing London's financial districts in Canary Wharf ever since. Today, the driverless automated light metro system now boasts 45 step-free stations, 40 km of tracks and around 124 million passengers a year, making it the busiest light railway in the UK and one of the largest networks in the world in terms of number of passengers.

Maintaining high performance level

In addition to its size and key role in Londoners' lives, the DLR is unique in its outstanding performance and world-class customer experience. This is down to KeolisAmey Docklands (KAD) since the start of its franchise in 2014. “The DLR has always been a high-performing network, with KAD consistently achieving 99 % punctuality and reliability performance rates", says Clare Donovan, Head of Communications at KAD. "Continuing to deliver such high levels year-on-year, while facing increasing passenger numbers and ageing assets, was highly challenging but we succeeded thanks to consistent levels of hard work and attention to every single detail."

Engaging with employees

Making sure employees are continuously committed, motivated and well informed is one of KAD's keys to success. KAD also recognises its employees' work with different awards: Employee Recognition Awards for employees who have made a difference in a range of categories; Long Service Awards for employees who have worked at the DLR for 10 years or more; and the Eureka! innovation Scheme which encourages staff to submit their business improvement ideas.

Putting customers at the heart of everything

KAD is 100 % focused on ensuring passengers the best possible travel experience. How? By giving them quality information during network disruptions, resolving delays as quickly as possible, and being available throughout their journey. KAD relies on a robust Disruption Management Plan, which identifies various scenarios, to make effective decisions quickly after a disruption and inform customers. And there is a member of staff on board every train, because as Clare Donovan says: "It's not because we operate driverless trains that we can't provide good communication to our passengers."

Acting as a community railway

KAD is clearly leading the way when it comes to making a positive change in the community, as proved by its numerous social inclusion initiatives to support those in need: from disadvantaged families to vulnerable people. For example, its Community Ambassador teams organise accessibility trips to help residents use the DLR for the first time. Through its "Back on Track" programme, KAD helps people with mental health issues, or those who suffer from loneliness or anxiety helping them to travel independently.


Building trusted relationships with our Transport Authority

From day one, KAD has worked closely with Transport for London (TfL). For example, KAD worked closely with TfL to maintain assets, better manage their maintenance, and extend their life expectancy, a key issue for TfL. This collaborative approach led to an ISO 44001 certification, the International Standard for Collaborative Working (December 2019). "We are the first operator to have achieved such certification with TfL, proving our capability to deliver and to always do the right thing to help clients, even if it's difficult ", says Clare Donovan.  KAD's track record in operational performance led to a four-year contract extension to 2025. "This extension demonstrates the high level of trust TfL has in our capacity to support them through their next challenges, the main one being the introduction of new trains due to come into operation from 2023 ", says Clare Donovan.

2021 was a record year for punctuality and reliability

  • Departures: 99.27 % for a 98.40 % target (number of trains run compared to number which should have run)

  • Journey times: 99.02 % for a 95% target (number of schedules on time or delayed) 

  • 100% for departures: 106 days 

  • Excess waiting time: 5.5 seconds, for an 11-second target (how much longer people must wait for their train beyond its scheduled time)

Multiple certifications for KAD

  • ISO 9001 for Quality Management

  • ISO 14001 for Environmental Management 

  • ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety Management (formerly OHSAS 18001)

  • ISO 44001 for Collaborative Working 

  • ISO 55001 for Asset Management

"We are very proud that KAD was named "Passenger Operator of the Year" at the National Rail Awards in 2020, the first time a light rail system has achieved this recognition. This is one of five Operator awards KAD has achieved at local, national and international levels, which are great recognition and reward for our constant efforts to deliver the best service possible to our passengers." Clare Donovan, Head of Communications.

More information: "Back on Track", a unique social inclusion programme

The starting point: Many people suffering from mental health issues spend their days isolated or excluded from society. They lack confidence to leave their home and travel on public transport. KAD is already very active in the community when it comes to social inclusion and realized that very little was done for this group of people; this led to the creation of "Back on Track", in collaboration with the East London NHS Foundation Trust and the DLR. 

KAD's solution: "Back on Track" assists and encourages people with mental health issues, and those suffering from loneliness, anxiety, or psychological difficulties. KAD's Community Ambassadors organize supervised railway visits for individuals who have been identified by an NHS nurse. This helps to restore their self-confidence and enables them to travel without anxiety on the railway.