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Tramlink is a light rail/tram system serving Croydon and surrounding areas in South London, England. It began operation in May 2000 as Croydon Tramlink, becoming the first tram system in London since 1959. It is owned by London Tramlink, an arm of Transport for London (TfL), and is operated as a concession by FirstGroup.
The network consists of 39 stops along 28 km 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 section of alignment (not track) shared with a third rail electrified Network Rail line.
The network has four lines that 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. The Tramlink is the third-busiest light rail network in the UK behind the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway.
- 1 History
- 2 Current system
- 3 Rolling stock
- 4 Future developments
- 5 Incidents
- 6 Onboard announcements
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In 1996 Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) won a 99-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract to design, build, operate and maintain Tramlink. TCL was a partnership comprising FirstGroup, Bombardier Transportation (the builders of the system's trams), Sir Robert McAlpine and Amey (who built the system), and Royal Bank of Scotland and 3i (who arranged the finances). TCL kept the revenue generated by Tramlink and LRT had to pay compensation to TCL for any changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced later.
TCL subcontracted operations to CentreWest Buses.
One of the factors leading to its creation was that the London Borough of Croydon has no London Underground service.
Former lines reused
There are four routes: Route 1 – Elmers End to Croydon; Route 2 – Beckenham Junction to Croydon; Route 3 – New Addington to Wimbledon; and Route 4 – Therapia Lane to Elmers End. Route 2 runs parallel to the Crystal Palace to Beckenham Junction line of the Southern network between Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction – the National Rail track had been singled some years earlier.
From Elmers End to Woodside, route 1 and route 4 (and route 2 from Arena) follow the former British Rail branch line to Addiscombe, then diverge to reach Addiscombe tram stop, 500 metres east of the demolished Addiscombe railway station. At Woodside the old station buildings stand disused, and the original platforms have been replaced by accessible low platforms.
From Woodside to near Sandilands (routes 1, 2 and 4) and from near Sandilands almost to Lloyd Park (route 3), Tramlink follows the former Woodside and South Croydon Railway, including the Park Hill (or Sandilands) tunnels.
The section of Route 3 between Wimbledon and West Croydon mostly follows the single-track British Rail route, closed on 31 May 1997 so that it could be converted for Tramlink. Within this section, from near Phipps Bridge to near Reeves Corner, route 3 follows the Surrey Iron Railway, giving Tramlink a claim to one of the world's oldest railway alignments – beside Mitcham tram stop had its name long before Tramlink. 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 London
In March 2008, TfL announced that it had reached agreement to buy TCL for £98m. 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 TCL 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.
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 red colour of the cars were repainted 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 have automated ticket machines. 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 Road 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.
Tramlink is shown on the "London Connections" map but not on the tube map. The original routes were Line 1 Wimbledon to Elmers End, Line 2 Croydon to Beckenham Junction, and Line 3 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.
Route 1 (lime)
Main article: Tramlink route 1
Route 2 (lime)
Main article: Tramlink route 2
Route 3 (green)
Main article: Tramlink route 3
Route 4 (bottle green)
Main article: Tramlink route 4
Change in route colours
When TfL took over a new network map was designed, combining Routes 1 and 2 as one service, coloured "Trams Green" (lime). (Originally, Line 1 was yellow, Line 2 red, and Line 3 a darker (District line) green.) Trams from Elmers End on Route 1 change their numbers in central Croydon to Route 2 (Beckenham Junction) and the reverse in the other direction, but this is likely to change in light of the introduction of Route 4.
Fares and ticketing
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 is operated with 30 vehicles. 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. 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 repainted into a new green livery.
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 £16 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, this will bring the total Variotram fleet up to ten.
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.
Extension D / Route 5
|Route 5 (proposed)|
Then back to Penge Road
Then to East Croydon and back to Beckenham Junction or Crystal Palace
Tramlink route 5 is the only extension being formally developed, linking Harrington Road with Crystal Palace, and Crystal Palace with Beckenham Junction, both 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. Following recent consultation the off-street option is favoured, with trams running along existing railway as far as Crystal Palace Station, and then round the western edge of Crystal Palace Park (within the park's perimeter) to the bus terminus near the parade. TfL has stated 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.
The Sutton to Wimbledon proposal utilises the existing line between Wimbledon and Morden Road, but the cramped terminus inside Wimbledon station is barely adequate for its present function. If another service is to serve Wimbledon a new terminus will be needed. Diverging from the present route, the Sutton line might adopt a segregated alignment within the highway along Morden Road, serving Morden station interchange. It would probably use Aberconway Road to reach Morden Hall Road before using the spacious St Helier Avenue as the direct route to St Helier, Rose Hill. St Helier Hospital is an important local traffic objective, despite the need to deviate from the direct route into Sutton via Angel Hill. A number of variants in Sutton Town centre are to be examined to see how the shopping centre, station and office complex can be accessed. The alignment is served by busy bus routes and would give Tramlink direct with the Northern line at Morden. A south-to-east curve may also be considered at Morden Road to permit direct links from St Helier to Mitcham and Croydon.
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 are shown. Stops would be at Morden Hall, Ivy Lodge, Boxley Road, Langdon Road, Middleton Road, Rosehill Roundabout, St Helier Hospital (on loop), Rosehill Park, Sutton Tennis Centre, Angel Hill, Sutton Green, High Street North, Crown Road (northbound only), St Nicholas Road (northbound only), Throwley Way (southbound only) and Sutton Station
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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 Croydon
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.
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.
On 7 September 2008 a bus on route 468 travelled through a red traffic signal and collided with tram 2534 in George Street, Croydon. The impact caused the death of a passenger who was reported to have been thrown through the upper front window of the bus. 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 13 September 2008 tram 2530 collided with a cyclist at Morden Hall Park footpath crossing between Morden Road and Phipps Bridge tram stops. The cyclist sustained injuries from which he later died.
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.
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