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London Trams, previously Tramlink and Croydon Tramlink, is a light rail tram system serving Croydon and surrounding areas in South London, England. It began operation in 2000, the first tram system in London since 1952. It is owned by London Trams, an arm of Transport for London (TfL), and operated by Tram Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of FirstGroup.
Tram 2551 at Wimbledon
The tram network as of 2016[update]
|Owner||Transport for London|
|Area served||Bromley, Croydon, Merton, Sutton|
|Transit type||Light rail/Tram|
|Number of stations||39|
|Annual ridership||29.1 million (2017/18)|
|Began operation||May 2000|
|Number of vehicles||23 Bombardier CR4000|
12 Stadler Rail Variobahn
|System length||28 km (17 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||Overhead line (750 V DC)|
|Top speed||50 miles per hour (80 km/h)|
The network consists of 39 stops along 28 km (17 mi) of track, on a mixture of street track shared with other traffic, dedicated track in public roads, and off-street track consisting of new rights-of-way, former railway lines, and one right-of-way where the Tramlink track parallels a third rail-electrified Network Rail line.
The network's lines coincide in central Croydon, with eastbound termini at Beckenham Junction, Elmers End and New Addington, and a westbound terminus at Wimbledon, where there is an interchange for London Underground. Tramlink is the fourth-busiest light rail network in the UK behind the Docklands Light Railway, Manchester Metrolink and Tyne & Wear Metro.
In 1995 four consortia were shortlisted to build, operate and maintain Tramlink:
- Altram: John Laing, Ansaldo, Serco
- Croydon Connect: Tarmac, AEG, Transdev
- CT Light Rail Group: GEC Alsthom, Mowlem, Welsh Water
- Tramtrack Croydon: CentreWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Robert McAlpine, Amey, Bombardier Transportation
In 1996 Tramtrack Croydon (TC) won a 99-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract to design, build, operate and maintain Tramlink. The equity partners in TC were Amey (50%), Royal Bank of Scotland (20%), 3i (20%) and Sir Robert McAlpine with Bombardier Transportation contracted to build and maintain the trams and FirstGroup operate the service. TC retained the revenue generated by Tramlink and LRT had to pay compensation to TC for any changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced later.
Former lines reusedEdit
Tramlink makes use of a number of National Rail lines, running parallel to franchised services, or in some cases, runs on previously abandoned railway corridors. Between Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction, Tramlink uses the Crystal Palace line, running alongside Southern rail services. The National Rail track had been singled some years earlier. From Elmers End to Woodside, Tramlink follows the former British Rail branch line to Woodside where the old station buildings stand disused, and the original platforms have been replaced by accessible low platforms. Tramlink then follows the former Woodside and South Croydon Railway (W&SCR) to reach the current Addiscombe tram stop, adjacent to the site of the demolished Bingham Road railway station. It continues along the former railway route to near Sandilands where Tramlink curves sharply towards Sandilands tram stop. Another route from Sandilands tram stop curves sharply on to the W&SCR before passing through Park Hill (or Sandilands) tunnels and to the site of Coombe Road railway station after which it curves away across Lloyd Park.
Tramlink follows the former West Croydon to Wimbledon Line, which was first opened in 1855 and closed on 31 May 1997 to allow for conversion into Tramlink. Within this section, from near Phipps Bridge to near Reeves Corner, Tramlink follows the Surrey Iron Railway, giving Tramlink a claim to one of the world's oldest railway alignments – beside Mitcham tram stop. A partial obstruction near this point (reinforcement to a retaining wall below a car park) has necessitated the use of interlaced track.
A Victorian footbridge beside Waddon New Road was dismantled to make way for the flyover over the West Croydon to Sutton railway line. The footbridge has been re-erected at Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway (although some evidence suggests that this was a similar footbridge removed from the site of Merton Park railway station).
Buyout by Transport for LondonEdit
In March 2008, TfL announced that it had reached agreement to buy TC for £98 million. The purchase was finalised on 28 June 2008. The background to this purchase relates to the requirement that TfL (who took over from London Regional Transport in 2000) compensates TC for the consequences of any changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced since 1996. In 2007 that payment was £4m, with an annual increase in rate. FirstGroup will continue to operate the service until 2030.
In October 2008 TfL introduced a new livery, using the blue, white and green of the routes on TfL maps, to distinguish the trams from buses operating in the area. The colour of the cars was changed to green, and the brand name was changed from Croydon Tramlink to simply Tramlink. These refurbishments were completed in early 2009.
The tram stops have low platforms, 35 cm (14 in) above rail level. They are unstaffed and had automated ticket machines that are no longer in use due to TfL making trams cashless. In general, access between the platforms involves crossing the tracks by pedestrian level crossing. There are 39 stops, most being 32.2 m (106 ft) long. They are virtually level with the doors and are all wider than 2 m (6 ft 7 in). This allows wheelchairs, prams, pushchairs and the elderly to board the tram easily with no steps. In street sections, the stop is integrated with the pavement.
Tramlink uses some former main-line stations on the Wimbledon–West Croydon and Elmers End–Coombe Lane stretches of line. The railway platforms have been demolished and rebuilt to Tramlink specifications, except at Elmers End and Wimbledon where the track level was raised to meet the higher main-line platforms to enable cross-platform interchange.
Thirty-eight stops opened in the phased introduction of tram services in May 2000. Centrale tram stop in Tamworth Road opened on 10 December 2005, increasing journey times slightly. As turnround times were already quite tight this raised the issue of buying an extra tram to maintain punctuality. Partly for this reason but also to take into account the planned restructuring of services (subsequently introduced in July 2006), TfL issued tenders for a new tram. However, nothing resulted from this.
All stops have disabled access, raised paving, CCTV, a Passenger Help Point, a Passenger Information Display (PID), litter bins, a ticket machine, a noticeboard and lamp-posts, and most also have seats and a shelter.
The PIDs display the destinations and expected arrival times of the next two trams. They can also display any message the controllers want to display, such as information on delays or even instructions to vandals to stop placing objects on the track.
When Tramlink first opened it had three routes: Line 1 (yellow) from Wimbledon to Elmers End, Line 2 (red) from Croydon to Beckenham Junction, and Line 3 (green) from Croydon to New Addington. On 23 July 2006 the network was restructured, with Route 1 from Elmers End to Croydon, Route 2 from Beckenham Junction to Croydon and Route 3 from New Addington to Wimbledon. In June 2012 Route 4 from Therapia Lane to Elmers End was introduced. On Monday 4 April 2016, Route 4 was extended from Therapia Lane to Wimbledon.
On 25 February 2018, the network and timetables were restructured again for more even and reliable services. As part of this change, trams would no longer display route numbers on their dot matrix destination screens. This resulted in three routes:
- New Addington to West Croydon, returning to New Addington every 6/7 minutes.
- Wimbledon to Beckenham Junction every 10 minutes(every 15 minutes on Sundays and late evening)
- Wimbledon to Elmers End every 10 minutes(every 15 minutes on Sundays and terminates at Croydon in late evening every 15 minutes)
Additionally, the first two trams from New Addington will run to Wimbledon. Overall, this would result in a decrease in 2tph leaving Elmers End, resulting in a 25% decrease in capacity here, and 14% in the Addiscombe area. However, this would also regulate waiting times in this area and on the Wimbledon branch to every 5 minutes, from every 2–7 minutes.
Fares and ticketingEdit
TfL Bus Passes are valid on Tramlink, as are Travelcards that include any of zones 3, 4, 5 and 6.
When using Oyster cards, passengers must touch in on the platform before boarding the tram. Special arrangements apply at Wimbledon station, where the Tramlink stop is within the National Rail and London Underground station. Tramlink passengers must therefore touch in at the station entry barriers then again at the Tramlink platform to inform the system that no mainline/LUL rail journey has been made.
Tramlink is operated by 36 trams. The original fleet comprised 24 articulated low floor Flexity Swift CR4000 trams built by Bombardier Transportation in Vienna numbered beginning at 2530, continuing from the highest-numbered tram 2529 on London's former tram network, which closed in 1952. The original livery was red and white. One (2550) was painted in FirstGroup white, blue and pink livery.
In 2006, the CR4000 fleet was refurbished, with the bus-like destination blinds being replaced by an electronic dot system. In 2009 the fleet was externally repainted into a new green livery and the interiors were refurbished with new flooring, seat covers retrimmed in a new moquette and sanchlions repainted from yellow to green.
In January 2011, Tramtrack Croydon opened a tender for the supply of ten new or second-hand trams from the end of summer 2011. The trams will be used between Therapia Lane and Elmers End. On 18 August 2011, TfL announced that Stadler Rail had won a $19.75 million contract to supply six Variobahn trams similar to those used by Bybanen in Bergen, Norway. They entered service in 2012. In August 2013, TfL ordered an additional four Variotrams for delivery in 2015, for use on the Wimbledon to Croydon link, an order which was later increased to six. This brought the total Variotram fleet up to ten in 2015, and twelve in 2016 when the final two trams were delivered.
Tram 2535 (the first to travel on the Croydon network under its own power) carries a nameplate in honour of Stephen Parascandolo, the founder of the unofficial Croydon Tramlink website, who was tragically killed in a road accident at the age of 26.
|Class||Image||Top speed||Number||Built||Fleet Numbers|
Engineers' vehicles used in Tramlink construction were hired for that purpose. In November 2006 Croydon Tramlink purchased five second-hand engineering vehicles from Deutsche Bahn. These were two DB class Klv 53 engineers' trams (numbered 058 and 059 in Tramline service), and three 4-wheel wagons (numbered 060, 061, and 062). Service tram 058 and trailer 061 were both sold to the National Tramway Museum in 2010.
In November 2014, a 15-year plan for upgrades to the tram system to greatly increase capacity on the network in line with an expected increase in ridership to 60 million passengers by 2031. The plans would relieve overcrowding and improve reliability on all lines, support housing growth, (as laid out in the London Plan)  and support programmes for regeneration in the Croydon metropolitan centre (such as Croydon Vision 2020, the Croydon Opportunity Area, and Westfield Croydon); furthermore, the upgrades seek to future-proof for Crossrail 2, potential Bakerloo line extension to the east of the network, and extensions to the tram network itself. The plans involve dual-tracking across the network and introducing diverting loops on either side of Croydon, allowing for a higher frequency of trams on all four branches of the network without increasing congestion in Croydon metropolitan centre; the £737m investement programme is to be funded partially by the Croydon Growth Zone, TfL Business Plan, housing levies, and the respective boroughs, as well as partially by the affected developers. The plans are outlined in three phases consisting of six outputs:
To support developments in Croydon, construction of a diverting loop in East Croydon has been proposed at Dingwall Road. This loop would run up Dingwall Road alongside the Ruskin Square development, call at a new stop on Lansdowne Road, and return to the Croydon loop before the Wellesley Road stop (refurbished to accommodate for higher ridership); services originating from New Addington would alternate between using the main Croydon loop and this loop before returning to New Addington, although the services around the Croydon loop may be phased out. The aim of this is to increase the number services both around the Croydon loop and to Wimbledon originating from Elmers End to meet demand; to accommodate this increase in services, dual-tracking of line after Arena and the construction of a second platform at Elmers End is required. This is fully committed, partially funded by TfL and partially by the Croydon Partnership of Westfield and Hammerson, with construction to begin in 2017 and to be completed by 2020. However, in the final masterplan planning application approved by Croydon Council and the Mayor of London, commitment by the Croydon Partnership to partially funding the loop was withdrawn, leading TfL and Croydon Council to review the affordability of the scheme. In May 2018, it was announced a third of the cost for Elmers End improvements would be funded from the TfL Growth Fund, with work proposed to start later in the year.
An increase in capacity westwards from Croydon centre could support housing growth at industrial and commercial areas in the Wandle Valley area; this could help fund the schemes through a housing levy, although this would require changes in planning allocation from both Croydon and Sutton councils. To achieve this, dual-tracking between Beddington Lane and Mitcham Junction and a second platform at Wimbledon was completed in November 2015, allowing for an initial 50% increase in capacity when the network was extended to Wimbledon. To further increase capacity by ~150%, a series of bottlenecks are proposed to be either resolved or avoided: as well as dual-tracking of line at Phipps Bridge and on the Wandle Flyover (between Reeves Corner and Wandle Park), a new route has been proposed between a spur in South Wimbledon or Colliers Wood and a reversing loop in Old Town, Croydon to avoid constraints at Wimbledon station and in Croydon. This line could provide connections to the South Wimbledon/Colliers Wood Area for Intensification and the Northern Line, as well as supporting connections to the proposed South London Metro at Mitcham Junction and West Croydon. The new service could initially run between Morden Road and Croydon before being extended to the new spur. New stops would be built in South Wimbledon/Colliers Wood and in Old Town (initially proposed as Frith Road), as well as an additional platform at Reeves Corner for westward services. This plan may be in service by 2023.
A 25% increase in capacity could be achieved by the introduction of another passing loop on the Beckenham Junction branch; the extra services could either be fed through Croydon centre or around the Dingwall Loop; this could be in place by 2027. Furthermore, if extra capacity is required, tram stops could be lengthened to serve either longer trams or two trams coupled together on services between Wimbledon and Beckenham Junction or Elmers End; however, the expense required as well as issues from lengthening stops in the Croydon centre may prevent this. This would be in place by 2029.
These developments could see an increase in fleet from 30 to up to 80 trams (depending on whether longer trams or coupled trams are used). As such, an increase in depot and stabling capacity across the whole 15-year plan is also required; an enlargement of the current Therapia Lane site as well as sites near the Elmers End and Harrington Road tram stops have been shortlisted. Furthermore, plans for increases in capacity at Wimbledon are supported long-term with the redesign of the station as part of plans of Crossrail 2 and at East Croydon as part of plans for an upgrade of the Brighton Main Line. The plan also is designed to accommodate the long-term aim of extending services to Crystal Palace.
Sutton to Wimbledon (Sutton Link)Edit
The only Tramlink extension actively being pursued by the Mayor of London and TfL, as of 2018, is a new line between Sutton and Wimbledon. Depending on the route chosen, this could support Opportunity Areas at Wimbledon and Sutton, the South Wimbledon/Colliers Wood Area for Intensification, the Morden Housing Zone, and intensification along the route at Rose Hill. The extension aims to support the delivery of at least 10,000 homes and thousands of jobs. A further extension to the new London Cancer Hub on the same site of the Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research in Belmont has also been proposed as a long-term part of the development.
In the London 2050 infrastructure plan, an extension of the Tramlink to Sutton was given a medium priority with a timescale of 2030.
In July 2013, Mayor Boris Johnson affirmed that there is a reasonable business case for Tramlink to cover the Wimbledon - Sutton corridor. A map has been released showing the planned route. It would leave the existing route just to the east of Morden Road and head along the A24 and A297 to Rosehill Roundabout, then the B2230 through Sutton town centre, ending at the station. A loop via St Helier Hospital and a possible extension to Royal Marsden Hospital also were proposed. 
In 2014, a proposed £320m scheme for a new line to connect Wimbledon to Sutton via Morden was made and brought to consultation jointly by the London Boroughs of Merton and Sutton. The consultation aimed to gauge support for the extension, as well as for different routes proposed. The consultation offered three choices of northern terminus (Wimbledon, South Wimbledon on-street, South Wimbledon off-street), with or without the loop serving St Helier's Hospital directly, and for the Sutton loop to either run entirely around the Sutton gyratory or divert north along the High Street. The results overwhelmingly supported the extension, with majorities supporting the northern terminus at Wimbledon, including a loop to serve St Helier's Hospital, and running entirely around the gyratory. Although £100m from TfL was initially secured in the draft 2016/17 budget, this was subsequently reallocated. The current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan remains committed to the project however, and has called on the council to raise the shortfall in funding. It has been announced £70m from the Mayor's Growth Fund had been allocated to the extension with a potential further £30m being available in the next Tfl Business plan, subject to an acceptable business case and funding package being reached by 2020. An additional £50m has also been offered by the London Boroughs of Merton and Sutton.
At the end of 2018, a TfL consultation opened on proposals for rapid transit between Sutton and Merton. The consultation proposed three potential routes:
|1||South Wimbledon tube station||From South Wimbledon tube station along Morden Road (A24), interchange with Morden Road tram stop, through Morden (300m from Morden tube station, through Rose Hill and St Helier, follows Sutton gyratory|
|2||Colliers Wood tube station||From Colliers Wood tube station along Church Road, interchange with Belgrave Walk tram stop, along Morden Road (A239), through Rose Hill and St Helier, follows Sutton gyratory|
|3||Wimbledon||Along Sutton Loop Line from Wimbledon, diverts from line at Collingwood Road before West Sutton, follows Sutton gyratory|
It has been proposed that Routes 1 or 2 would cost £425m as a segregated tram line, but also could be delivered at £275m as a bus rapid transit (BRT) route. Also, both routes 1 and 2 had potential for a direct link between Wimbledon station (with route 2 the easier route) and a potential loop for a direct connection with St Helier Hospital. Route 3 however has only been proposed to be delivered as a tram route at £300m, with Thameslink services terminating at West Sutton and Wimbledon. Services on the intermediate stations would however be more frequent as a tram service than currently. Work could begin in 2022, with aim for completing in 2025. Services to Wimbledon regardless of route would however be postponed several years to co-ordinate with Crossrail 2 works, due to the low capacity on tram platforms in the station and to limit disruption.
The Mayor's Transport Strategy for London states that extensions to the network could be developed at relatively modest cost where there is potential demand from existing and new development to support concentrated passenger movements, and where Tramlink technology might be cost effective. Proposal 4D7 says that "The Mayor will explore the potential for extending the Tramlink network where doing so could help meet the objectives of the Transport Strategy cost effectively" and sought initial views on the viability of a number of extensions by summer 2002.
|Sutton Town Centre/Station – Wimbledon||Through St Helier, Morden and Morden Road (including via St. Helier Hospital and direct routes and routing variants within Sutton Town Centre)|
|Sutton – Tooting||Through St Helier and Mitcham (including routing variants via Mitcham Junction and direct)|
|Mitcham Junction – Mitcham town centre||Through Mitcham Common|
|Central Croydon – Coulsdon||Through Purley, Purley Station and could involve a Park and Ride scheme|
|Central Croydon – Brixton||Through Thornton Heath, Norbury, Streatham and Streatham Hill as well as past Mayday Hospital|
|Harrington Road/Beckenham Junction – Crystal Palace||Various route options including (below)|
- from Harrington Road and Birkbeck
- from Church Street and Wellesey Road
- from Reeves Corner and West Croydon
- from Wimbledon (follows Thameslink to Sutton)
Other extension proposals include Lewisham, Bromley town centre, Biggin Hill Airport/Village and a local spur/loop to penetrate further into Purley Way retail/industrial park.
Starting in the west, there are two corridors into Sutton town centre. The first, principally between Wimbledon and Sutton, was in view even before Tramlink opened: the trams were delivered with this as "line 4" on their destination blinds.
Sutton to TootingEdit
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The other Sutton proposal, to Tooting, is more ambitious and contains many more challenges than Sutton/Wimbledon link. Apart from workshop/depot facilities and a curve required to link the line into the existing system, this extension would share no infrastructure with it. If "line 4" is realised ahead of this proposal, the Tooting line would have the St Helier to Sutton section in common. North of St Helier, the alignment is likely to fit across parkland and open space to take in the Willow Lane Industrial Estate before serving Mitcham town centre. There would be some commonality here with the short separate proposal for a spur from Mitcham Junction to Mitcham town centre. From here, the extension would seek to use the pedestrianised town centre before sharing the carriageway with all traffic in London Road south of Figge’s Marsh, with room for segregation beyond the junction with Streatham Road. The most difficult leg arises immediately the Merton/Wandsworth boundary is crossed and the most effective way of reaching Tooting Broadway from this point will stir much debate.
North and south from CroydonEdit
To the north and south of Croydon are some busy bus corridors, which derive from earlier tram routes. These include the Purley – Croydon – Streatham corridor, which is proposed for conversion to tram operation.
To the south of Croydon, the proposal is for the new route to diverge from the central Croydon loop and use a highway alignment, probably South End and Brighton Road, to Purley. Beyond Purley, an extension to Coulsdon will be investigated. As this would be close to the M23 motorway, a possibility would be the construction of a park and ride site. Finding a good alignment will be more difficult south of Purley, where Brighton Road is the A23 trunk road.
To the north of Croydon, it is proposed to use a highway alignment based on London Road. To the south of Thornton Heath Pond, the use of a shared carriageway is a possibility. North of this point the road becomes the A23 again, but there are likely to be some opportunities for trambaan type segregation to Norbury and between Norbury and Streatham, although Norbury is a pinch point. The proposal is to terminate the line at Streatham railway station, providing an interchange to the extended East London Line.
Crystal Palace extensionEdit
The proposed extension to Crystal Palace would have linked it to Harrington Road and Beckenham Junction, with services terminating at Crystal Palace Parade. There were three options on how to get to the Parade: on-street, off-street and a mixture of the two. After consultation in 2006 the off-street option was favoured, with trams running along existing railway as far as Crystal Palace Station, and then running round the western edge of Crystal Palace Park (within the current park's perimeter) to the bus terminus near the parade. The planned extension was cancelled due to a lack of funding in 2000. The plans were revived shortly after Boris Johnson's re-election as London mayor in May 2012 but six months later the plan was cancelled again.
TfL had stated in 2008 that due to lack of funding the plans for this extension will not be taken forward, but also says that it is committed to including new proposals for extensions to the tram as part of a future bid to Government.
Work currently commissioned will investigate proposals to extend to Biggin Hill, Bromley town centre, Lewisham, and Purley Way. If initial examination shows promise, further work could follow to firm up more detailed routings.
Accidents and incidentsEdit
On 7 September 2008, a bus on route 468 travelled through a red traffic signal and collided with tram 2534 in George Street, Croydon causing a fatality. The driver of the bus was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving a year later in December 2009 and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
On 5 April 2011, a woman tripped over and was dragged under a moving tram. She was taken to hospital in a serious condition. She is believed to have been running to catch the tram outside East Croydon Station when she tripped and fell.
November 2016 derailmentEdit
On 9 November 2016, tram 2551 derailed on a sharp curved junction 180 metres (590 ft) east from the Sandilands tram stop, killing seven people and injuring at least 50 more. The British Transport Police arrested the driver on suspicion of manslaughter. Driver error was found to be the cause of the accident, with suspicions that the driver had a microsleep episode approaching the bend. Fifteen recommendations were made.
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