Iain Frew's visit report
Update 3 March 2009
Overcrowding - survey
A recent survey has revealed that overcrowding on trams in Croydon is so bad many passengers cannot board the vehicles, .
The survey, organised by the Liveral Democrats and issued by Croydon Central campaigner Stephen Dering and London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon,took place in central Croydon early in February .
The report alos indicates that 65% thought the Mayor was wrong to scrap the extension to Crystal Palace.
Update 9 October 2008
New livery for Tramlink
Transport for London has unveiled the new livery for the Croydon trams. This replaces the current red and white with bright green, white and blue.
The new colour scheme is part of a programme to refurbish the trams and upgrade stops and rail infrastructure across the network.
Update 1 July 2008
TfL takes control of Tramlink
Transport for London has formally taken possession of the south London Tramlink network. This comes following the previous owner Tramtrack Croydon Ltd's agreement to sell earlier this year
The takeover was finalised when the documents to complete the deal were signed on Friday (27 June) by the managing director of TfL London Rail, Ian Brown, and the directors of TCL, the concession holder that owned the Tramlink network. The deal, which cost £98m, means Tramlink is now owned and managed by TfL London Rail.
TfL says that taking over the company will save taxpayers money as they will no longer need to pay compensation for Tramtrack Croydon for changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced since 1996. . Last year that payment was £4m, and the rate was expected to increase annually over the remaining 88 years of the concession agreement.
Update 27 October 2007
SPECIAL NAMING CEREMONY FOR STEPHEN PARASCANDOLO
Croydon Tramlink - Sunday 21st October 2007
On Saturday 20th October 2007, tram 2535 was named 'Stephen Parascandolo'. Stephen Parascandolo was a well-known and well-respected tram enthusiast, light rail advocate, railway engineer and webmaster of the Unofficial Croydon Tramlink Website. Stephen died in a car accident in February 2007, at the age of 26.
For more information and pictures visit www.britishtramsonline.co.uk.
Update 13 June 2007
Extension consultation results
In Autumn 2006 TfL held a public consultation on three route options for the part of the extension between Anerley Road and Crystal Palace Parade.
The response showed continued strong support for the extension, with more than twice as many positive comments about the extension as negative ones.
It is expected that TfL will make a decision, taking the consultation results into account, on a route for the extension towards the end of 2007. The comments we received on the options will help inform the design of the extension.
Update 13 November 2006
Croydon Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace consultation
Transport for London (TfL) is asking people for their views on three potential route options for the proposed Croydon Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace. the consultation closes on the 18th December.
Anyone who wishes to take part in the consultation can also reply online at www.tfl.gov.uk/croydontrams or by calling freephone 0800 234 6697.
Update 12 May 2005
Tramlink's 5th Birthday
The 10th May marked the 5th Anniversary of the opening of Tramlink. It was celebrated by a meeting of The South London Tram Group with an introduction from Bruce McDonald - CE RBK & Chairman of Tram Task Group followed by presentations on achievements so far (over 90m passengers since 2000 and 20% modal shift) plus plans for the future by Christine Seaman Director South London Partnership, Financing Tramlink by Roger Harding and 'Tramlink observed by an enthusiast' from Nicholas Owen.
After the formal meeting, their followed a party for Tramlink's 5th Birthday complete with a cake in the shape of a CR4000! Photo: David Cockle
Update 27 October 2004
'Centrale' stop to open 2005
Transport for London (TfL) announced today that from next year trams are set to call at the tram stop in Tamworth Road, Croydon serving the Centrale development. This stop which St Martin's, the developers of Centrale, were obliged to provide under their s106 agreement with Croydon Council has been a point of controversy due to the delay in opening which was due to its potential effect on the existing service.
Proposed expenditure by TfL for the upgrade of Tramlink's control systems, the fit out of the stop and for the purchase of an extra tram, is included in the TfL budget and business plan subject to final commercial agreement.
It is expected that a change to the current scheduled timetable of the trams in Croydon will be implemented to accommodate the new stop. The proposed changes will improve access to Croydon Town Centre, provide a more reliable and robust service and provide increased capacity between Wimbledon and Croydon. All changes will be subject to consultation.
The changes would mean an increase in number of trams in operation on Croydon Tramlink from 21 to 22.
Transport for London's Managing Director of Surface Transport, Peter Hendy said: "I am pleased we can make the financial provision which enables this tram stop to open in 2005. Whilst more people will opt to catch the tram instead of using their cars once the tram stop is fully operational, without TfL's contribution the stop could not be opened as there would be insufficient additional revenue to justify the extra costs involved to the Concessionaire."
Update 25 September 2004
Mayor says Crystal Palace Extension "definite"
At a meeting of the Association of London Government this week, the mayor Ken Livingstone has said that a Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace will go ahead. A final decision is due next month. Crystal Palace represents the simplest of the extension options available and as well as linking to Crystal Palace where the terminus is currently undecided, would take over the heavy rail route to Beckenham allowing Tramlink to expand Beckenham line services.
Double track will be retained on heavy rail between Norwood and Crystal Palace, allowing a potential increase in frequency of the rail service on this route with a frequent tram feeder towards Crystal Palace for London passengers and from Beckenham to Crystal Palace and Croydon. A triangle would be constructed at Love Lane, near Harrington Road stop.
The extension is seen as vital to the regeneration of the Crystal Palace and Anerley areas and will provide an interchange at Crystal Palace with one of the three termini of the East London Line extension. This is of course, simply a reorganisation of the existing heavy rail metro services to use the East London line to access Dalston and beyond and is not a new tube line as the press seem to think.
(Report from unofficial Croydon Tramlink website)
Update dated 20 July 2000
Now that the system has begun to settle down to its routine service, it is quite apparent that it is very popular indeed with the general public. One surprise is that Line 1 to Wimbledon is carrying far more passengers than was expected this soon after opening, with many passengers travelling the length of the branch, both ways between the centres of Croydon and Wimbledon - a very great improvement on the same journey by road!
The cars are excellent in most respects and seem to have plenty of power to cope with the fairly steep gradients in several places. One feature that could certainly be improved is the ventilation in the end part of each section, from the end door area to the driver's cab. On a warm day this whole area tends to be uncomfortably hot, especially at the leading end of the car, and passengers are sometimes seen to move further back during their journey. At least the two end windows need opening sections - and preferably all four. A minor point is that the driver’s console is a shade high and front seat passengers need to be reasonably tall to get a good forward view (the front seats on the right-hand side give the better view, provided that there’s only one person in the cab). The wheelchair/pushchair area should perhaps be marked more clearly as there is a strong tendency for pushchairs to remain in the door area, even when the car is only lightly loaded.
The 'Next Tram' electronic display information at tramstops is not always correct and appears to need some work doing to make it completely reliable throughout the system.
Only a fairly short, direct journey on the Charing Cross-to-Hayes trains between Lewisham and Elmers End separates the Docklands Light Railway's new Greenwich and Lewisham line from Croydon Tramlink's Elmers End branch. Both the DLR and CT are within the London Travelcard area (most of Tramlink is in Zones 4, 5 & 6, but Zone 3 validity is needed for travelling beyond Morden Road to Merton Park, Dundonald Road and Wimbledon).
The 'Tramlink Shop' is in George Street, opposite Safeway, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and the telephone number for information is 020 8681 8300, the ‘020’ being necessary when phoning from outside the London telephone area. LT Travelcards and 1-day tram passes are on sale there and a Tramlink ticket machine is installed. A small range of 'souvenirs' is on sale, including a computer mouse mat printed with the Tramlink system map at GBP4.90 (postage extra). Capital Transport Publishing's 'Tramlink - Official Handbook' (many colour photographs) is on sale at the shop, price GBP7.95. The Tramlink hand-out map has been updated to include the new bus services which connect with Tramlink at New Addington and Addington Village - T31, T32 and T33 - and also to make it clear that Reeves Corner tramstop is for inbound cars only.
Car 2533 is in a Nescafé advertising 'livery' (Nestlé’s office tower-block overlooks George Street), 2542 is in all-over yellow with AMEY logos on the lower side panels and Amey 'slogan' below roof level, 2546 is in a blue/green livery, advertising the Whitgift (Shopping) Centre in Croydon and 2531 is in a purple livery advertising Addington Palace (a Country Club, Hotel and Restaurant near Gravel Hill tramstop). A fifth car - 2550 - is now in an advertising livery, for First Group: deep blue, white and pink (very much better than it sounds!).
A very good 2-part article on Croydon Tramlink is to be found in the monthly magazine "Railway World" for September and December 1999.
Croydon’s last day of service for the "old" trams was 7 April 1951 (routes 16 & 18 from Embankment to Purley and 42 from Thornton Heath to South Croydon) and the last day of service in London as a whole was 5 July 1952. The old route along the length of George Street (to Addiscombe via Cherry Orchard Road) closed in 1927 and those along Tamworth Road and Station Road went over to trolleybuses in 1935 and 1936 respectively.
The current issue of the A-Z Street Atlas (in colour, in booklet form) for Croydon - headed "Croydon Purley Sutton Mitcham" includes the whole of the Croydon Tramlink system. The last-minute amendments to the system of around 1996 are not included (Reeves Corner and Ampere Way stops are not shown, Waddon Marsh is a little too far west and New Addington too far east and George Street stop is shown as Croydon Central). Available at many bookshops and newsagents in the Tramlink area, price GBP2.75 as at May 1999. (There is also a folded-sheet map (AZ Master Map - "S - South London") at GBP4.25.)
Links to other useful Croydon sites:
A visit to the new system on 25 July showed that astonishingly high levels of traffic were being carried on almost all parts of the system throughout the entire day. The system is a quite unqualified success. There were some irregularities in the operation of services with gaps followed by bunching leading to quips from users about the system being "just like the buses - nothing for ages then three come together". This particular situation was in fact observed on the Beckenham Junction route, while at Elmers End two trams ended up in the single Tramlink platform together having arrived one minute apart. Extra services seemed to be operating between Central Croydon and New Addington but the same facility could not be given to the Wimbledon route on which overcrowding was at times severe.
Looking at each route in turn -
Tramlink is just allowed to squeeze into platform 10 of the station and the one tram-long available portion of the platform extends under the overbridge so is in a dark and gloomy location. Traffic here is very heavy being substantially for Croydon itself, or for the new shopping sites served by the Ampere Way stop. The local traffic to the first few stops which once flourished when Southern Electric emus ran very frequently is growing again. Mitcham Junction stop presents interesting contrasts between the two adjoining facilities. Despite its relatively remote location surrounded by the golf course the Tramlink stop seems to be busy all the time while the ever so weary looking heavy rail station attracts little traffic despite having four trains each way most hours. The footbridge over the BR tracks gives an excellent view point for the trams coming over the new bridge over the Sutton BR tracks. Some new flats have been built close to the tracks at the Therapia Way stop but major traffic sources exist at the next two stops - Ampere Way and Waddon Marsh. Major out of town shopping outlets have been built beside both stops with Ikea at Ampere Way an especially good source of business judging by the bags carried by the crowds using this stop throughout the morning and afternoon.
A major feature of the Wimbledon route is the single track sections. A short section of single track at the approach to Wimbledon station, the single track flyover over the BR lines close to Croydon town centre and the short section of interlaced track under the narrowed right of way at Mitcham, are no real problem. However the single track from Mitcham Junction stop, over the BR Sutton lines, and then onwards to Beddington Lane (1.1 km) is a much more significant source of delays and prevents a much more frequent service being provided over this key route. The trams are so full already that further traffic growth will be prevented if a more frequent service proves impossible.
Operation around Croydon town centre appeared to be mostly smooth and the congestion at West Croydon stop/bus station seems to have eased adequately. The three platform layout at East Croydon is used to cut short workings and to start additional services for the New Addington route.
BECKENHAM JUNCTION and ELMERS END
A ten minute frequency service now operates on both routes throughout the day but are not spaced evenly to give a 5 minute service over the long joint section. Instead trams are due out of East Croydon just two minutes apart, and since the leading tram handles much more traffic for intermediate stops than the following tram, the two trams are generally very close to each other by Addiscombe. Short distance traffic has developed in excellent numbers and a stop like Woodside, virtually deserted when BR gave it a half hourly service, is now teaming with customers. Traffic along the mostly single track spur into Elmers End is modest off peak with only a little traffic interchanging with BR but the Beckenham Junction route is surprisingly busy. The stop at Arena is attracting large numbers of younger passengers using the sports field after which the stop is named. There are sharp reverse curves and steep gradients up to Harrington Road stop and thereafter the route is single track with a loop at Birkbeck stop and just beyond Beckenham Road stop. The route parallels the BR Crystal Palace - Beckenham Junction branch, which has been reduced to single track, from just beyond Harrington Road to the terminus. The contrast between the well loaded Tramlink trams and the almost empty six coach hourly BR trains was indeed marked. Beckenham Junction is quite a decent local shopping centre with a few large stores and the tram has attracted a lot of custom as a result. The single track along much of the route results in some irregularities in operations and on more than one occasion I noted two trams at Beckenham Junction simultaneously as a result of earlier delays.
Traffic has grown extremely well and when the local schools come out the trams are packed like the proverbial sardine cans. It was good to note that extensive use was being made of the tram:bus interchange facilities at Addington Village stop and at New Addington terminus. The tram has certainly transformed travel habits in this once rather isolated community. At some of the intermediate stops drivers seem to be parking along adjacent side roads doubtless to the annoyance of residents but until extensive car parks are built along the routes this is bound to happen.
There are only a few difficulties to be resolved. The name/notice boards at stops have been produced cheaply using sets of letters which can be applied quickly and easily.Unfortunately they can be removed just as easily so at virtually every stops letters are missing producing confusing signs. At Addiscombe stop every name board has been "adjusted" to read "disco". Much more seriously "No exit" signs have been altered in some instances by the removal of the word "No". At Birkbeck stop I found a disabled passenger in great difficulty having walked off the end of the platform past a sign adjusted in this manner and on to ground that had become extremely uneven. The ticket machines have nearly all been vandalised in a most annoying manner. A Perspex (or similar) sheet covers the monitor screen upon which all necessary instructions about ticket purchase are shown.
These screens have been extensively scratched making it well nigh impossible to make out the instructions in some cases. The windows inside the trams have suffered in a similar way. There are useful "Next tram" indicators on all platforms giving details of the destination of the next two trams, and the time in minutes before they will arrive. The information seems to be wildly inaccurate in some cases. For example a tram shown to leave Beckenham Junction in eight minutes did so after two minutes. The time of the next tram at Birkbeck was first of all six minutes, then two minutes, then eight minutes (all within the space of a single minute) - and the tram arrived shortly afterwards. These are doubtless teething troubles which will soon settle down. The important thing is that the Tramlink system has got off to a magnificent start with massive loads on almost all sections from day one. If Mr Prescott needs to be convinced about the value of modern tramways, he need look no further than Croydon, just a "stone's throw" from Westminster, or to be politically correct, a bike ride.
Iain D.O. Frew
27 July 2000.
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Map courtesy of Derek Baines
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