Once upon a time, the southern terminus of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) was at Island Gardens Station, which at the time was actually next to Island Gardens.
In the evening of 10th March 1987, during a test run, a train failed to stop, crashed through the buffers and fence, and was left hanging precariously 20ft above Saunders Ness Road.
London Daily News, March 11th 1987:
Three people on board escaped unhurt as the engine ploughed through a barrier at the station and overshot the line.
The accident could have been much worse. The station is yards from the playing fields at George Green Comprehensive, where a local football game was in progress, under floodlights, when the train crashed.
The railway, which runs to Tower Hill and Billingsgate, has been undergoing trials since November. Trains are capable of reaching speeds of more than 50mph.
Last night a spokesman for the London Docklands Development Corporation promised there would be a full investigation.
Mr Les Curtis, a surveyor who lives opposite the station said: “We heard an enormous crash shortly after 8pm, we looked out and saw the train hanging there. This must raise a lot of questions because those trains are going to run automatically with no drivers.”
“There’s a big anti-Docklands lobby in the area. If they get hold of this they’ll make a big issue out of it.
“It’s amazing. Every railway station you see has colossal buffers. But up there, the station has just three bits of angle iron holding three red lights. That wouldn’t even stop a BMX bike, let alone a runaway train.”
GEC Mowlem, which is constructing the railway, refused to comment on the crash last night.
Staff at the track said they were “still assessing the situation”.
In June of the same year, Cliff Bonnett, Managing Director of Docklands Light Railway Limited, said that the accident was primarily caused by…
… unauthorised tests, carried out before required modifications had been carried out at the southern terminus. The train, which ended up overhanging from the elevated track after crashing through buffers, would have been ‘arrested’ if the protection system ‘in its full and modified form’ had been installed. The train was being driven manually.