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Tramlink

Tramlink (initially known as Croydon Tramlink) is a tramway system serving the south London area of United Kingdom. The service is currently operated by First London on behalf of Transport for London.

Tramlink meets National Rail lines at a number of stations, but because it runs in an area relatively under-served by the London Underground (one of the reasons for its creation), its only interchange with the Underground is at Wimbledon. The system, centred on Croydon, began operation in May 2000.

Tramlink consists of a mixture of street track shared with other vehicles, dedicated track within the street, and off-street track. The off-street track includes new rights-of-way, former railway lines, and one section that shares the right-of-way (though not track) with a third-rail electrified Network Rail line.

History

Construction

Tramlink was born in 1990 when Croydon Council worked with what was then London Regional Transport (LRT) to propose the project to Parliament, resulting in the Croydon Tramlink Act 1994 giving LRT the legal power to build and run Tramlink.

In 1996, Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) won the concession to design, build, operate and maintain the Tramlink system, under a 99 year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. Under the terms of this contract, Tramtrack Croydon Ltd retains the revenue generated by Tramlink. In addition, LRT were required to make compensation payments to TCL for any changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced since 1996.

TCL in turn contracted the operation of the tram system to CentreWest Buses Ltd, now a part of First Group. First Group was one of several partners who jointly owned TCL, the others being Bombardier Transportation (the builders of the system's tramcars), Sir Robert McAlpine and Amey Construction Ltd (who built the system), and Royal Bank of Scotland and 3i (who arranged the finances).

Tramlink opened in May 2000.

Former lines re-used

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 having been made single track some years earlier.

From Elmers End to Woodside, route 1 (combined with route 2 from Arena) follows the former British Rail branch line towards Addiscombe station, 500 metres west of the tram stop of the same name, which has been demolished and the site redeveloped. At Woodside, the old station buildings still stand but are disused, and the original platforms have been demolished to make way for accessible low platforms.

From Woodside to near Sandilands (routes 1 & 2) 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 follows the old single-track British Rail route for the most part, which was closed in the mid 1990s 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. This gives Tramlink a claim to be, in a sense, one of the world's oldest tramways. beside Mitcham tram stop had its name long before Tramlink. A partial obstruction of the route near this point has necessitated the use of gauntlet track.

A Victorian footbridge beside Waddon New Road had to be demolished to make way for the flyover that takes Tramlink over the West Croydon to Sutton railway line. The footbridge has been re-erected at Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway.

Buyout by Transport for London

In March 2008, Transport for London (TfL) announced that it had reached agreement to buy Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) for the sum of £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.

The purchase by TfL does not affect the actual operation of the trams. These continue to be operated by First London, but now under contract to TfL rather than TCL. In October 2008 TfL introduced its own colour scheme to the vehicles, using the blue, white and green of the routes' symbol on TfL maps. "Green...distinguishes the Tram from...buses operating in the area" noted a TfL spokesman.

Current system

Network Map

Stops

Stops have low platforms 350 mm above rail level. Stops are un-staffed and have automated ticket machines for ticket sales. In general, access between the platforms involves crossing the tracks by pedestrian level crossing. There are 39 tram stops, most being 32.2 m long. They are almost exactly level with the doors and are all wider than 2 m. This allows for wheelchairs, prams, pushchairs and the elderly to board the tram easily with no steps. In street sections, the pavement is integrated with the tram stop.

Tramlink uses some former main-line stations on the Wimbledon - West Croydon and Elmers End - Coombe Road stretches of line that were taken over. 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 platforms, to enable cross-platform interchange.

Thirty eight stops opened as part of the phased introduction of tram services in May 2000. Centrale Stop in Tamworth Road opened on 10 December 2005, increasing journey times slightly. As turnround times are 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 had 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 destination 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 direct instructions to vandals to stop placing objects on the track.

Routes

Tramlink is not shown on the standard tube map, but is shown on the "London Connections" map. On 23 July 2006 the route network was restructured, with route 1 from Elmers End to Croydon and route 2 from Beckenham Junction to Croydon, running every 10 minutes Monday - Saturday daytime, every 30 minutes at other times, and route 3 from New Addington to Wimbledon every 7.5 minutes Monday - Saturday daytime, every 15 minutes at other times.

The current routes are, from east to west:

Route 1 (yellow)

Route 1

  • East Croydon (Trains to Gatwick and Luton)
  • George Street
  • Church Street
  • Centrale
  • West Croydon
  • Wellesley Road
  • Then to East Croydon and back to Elmers End

    Route 2 (red)

    Route 2

  • Sandilands
  • Lebanon Road
  • East Croydon (Trains to Gatwick and Luton)
  • George Street
  • Church Street
  • Centrale
  • West Croydon
  • Wellesley Road
  • Then to East Croydon and back to Beckenham Junction

    Route 3 (green)

    Route 3

  • Therapia Lane
  • Beddington Lane
  • Mitcham Junction
  • Mitcham
  • Belgrave Walk
  • Phipps Bridge
  • Morden Road
  • Merton Park
  • Dundonald Road
  • Wimbledon
  • Then back to Wandle Park

    Then to East Croydon and back to New Addington

    Fares and ticketing

    Ticket Cost
    Cash single £2.00
    Oyster single 90p

    The adult single cash fare is £2.00. Day return fares used to be sold at double the single fare, but since a one day bus pass is now 50p cheaper than the return fare there is no point buying a return. For this reason return fares have not been offered since the January 2008 fare changes. Special fares may apply when using Tramlink feeder buses. Oyster Cards are valid on Tramlink with both pay-as-you-go and travelcards. The adult single Oyster fare is £0.90 and 16-17 or New Deal Photocard holders pay £0.50. When using Oyster, the passenger must touch in on the platform before boarding the tram. The daily cap for using buses and trams only is £3.00 for adults and £1.50 for 16-17 and New Deal Photocard holders. When starting a journey from Wimbledon, the Oyster card must be touched in at the gates and on the Tramlink platform. Similarly, when leaving Wimbledon, passengers must touch out when leaving the station, but must not use the manual gate.

    All Bus Passes (1 Day, 7 Days, Monthly and Annual) are valid on Tramlink. Bus Saver Tickets are not valid. Valid Travelcards that include any of zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 are valid on Tramlink network. Free travel is available for:

    • under 14 year olds
    • 11-13 year olds using the tram at Wimbledon with an Under-14 or Child Oyster photocard
    • 14-15 year olds with a 14-15 or Child Oyster photocard
    • 16-17 year olds living in London who are studying full time and have a 16-17 Oyster photocard
    • wheelchair users
    • Freedom Pass holders

    Rolling Stock

    Tramlink is operated with articulated low-floor Flexity Swift CR-4000 trams built by Bombardier Transportation in Vienna. The fleet is currently 24 strong, with one more planned. The trams are based on the very similar class K-4000 built used on Köln's low-platform routes. The fleet is maintained at Therapia Lane depot.

    The trams are six-axle single-articulated double-ended cars with four doors on each side. The low floor stretches between both the outer doors through the articulation (which rests on an unpowered bogie/truck). Between the outer door and each car end is a higher-floor section, accessed up a step and situated over the car's two power bogies. The low-floor section is 400 mm above rail-level, sloping down to 350 mm in the doorways, a height that matches the platforms at tram stops, and each car has two wheelchair positions.

    The trams are 30.1 m long and 2.65 m wide, with 70 seats and a total capacity of just over 200 passengers. They operate from an overhead power supply at 750 V DC, and have a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). Each tram has an integral traction braking controller with deadman's handle. While stationary, the tram is immobilised until the driver's hand is on the controller: if the driver's hand is removed from the controller while moving, an alarm sounds immediately and the driver's hand must return to the controller to disarm it. If a three-second countdown passes and it is not disarmed, the track brakes are applied.

    The trams are numbered beginning at 2530, continuing from the highest-numbered tram, number 2529 on Croydon's former network, which closed in 1952.

    The trams are currently being refurbished including a repaint into a new livery.

    Future Developments

    Projected extensions

    The Mayor's Transport Strategy for London states that extensions to the Tramlink 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.

    An initial review of potential Tramlink extensions has been prepared and discussed with interested parties. TfL now wishes to carry out initial development and evaluation work on the following routes:

    Extension Route
    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)
    SuttonTooting Through St Helier and Mitcham (including routing variants via Mitcham Junction and direct)
    Mitcham JunctionMitcham town centre Through Mitcham Common
    Central Croydon - Coulsdon Through Purley/Purley Station and could involve a Park and Ride scheme
    Central Croydon - Streatham Through Thornton Heath and Norbury as well as past Mayday Hospital
    Harrington Road/Beckenham JunctionCrystal Palace Various route options including (below)

    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 that suggest bringing Tramlink to Sutton town centre. The first of these, proposing operations principally between Wimbledon and Sutton, has been in view even before Tramlink opened. Indeed, presumptuously, the trams were delivered with destination displays for this as “line 4” already included on blind sets.

    Extension D / Route 4

    Route 4 (proposed)

    Then back to Penge Road

    Then to East Croydon and back to Beckenham Junction or Crystal Palace

    Tramlink route 4, is currently the only extension being developed. The proposed routes link Harrington Road stop with Crystal Palace, and Crystal Palace directly with Beckenham Junction, both terminating at Crystal Palace Parade. There are 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 running round the western edge of Crystal Palace Park (within the current park's perimeter) to the bus terminus near the parade.

    Extension A

    The Sutton to Wimbledon proposal utilises the existing Tramlink infrastructure between Wimbledon and Morden Road stop. The cramped tram terminus inside Wimbledon station is barely adequate for its present function. If another service is to arrive at Wimbledon a new terminus will need to be created. Diverging from the present Croydon route the Sutton line might adopt 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 that Tramlink ought to serve, 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 presently served by a number of busy bus services and if built, would give Tramlink patrons direct interchange with the Northern Line at Morden. A south-to-east curve may also be considered at Morden Road to permit direct operations that link St Helier to Mitcham and Croydon.

    Extension B

    The other Sutton proposal – to Tooting - is more ambitious and undoubtedly 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 the existing Tramlink. Were “line 4” to be realised ahead of this proposal, the Tooting line would of course then 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. Some commonality would be enjoyed here with the short separate proposal to provide a spur from Mitcham Junction to Mitcham town centre. From here, the Tooting projection would seek to use the pedestrianised town centre section before sharing carriageway with all traffic in the part of 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 themselves 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 existing central Croydon loop and use a highway alignment, probably using 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. However, finding a good alignment will be more difficult south of Purley, where Brighton Road carries the heavy traffic of the A23 trunk road.

    To the north of Croydon, it is again 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 itself is a pinch point. The proposal is to terminate the line at Streatham railway station, providing an interchange to the extended East London Line.

    Other extensions

    Work currently commissioned will also check out proposals to extend Tramlink 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 for these proposals.

    Accidents and incidents

    • On 7 September 2008 a bus operating on route 468 was involved in a collision with a tram in George Street, Croydon. One person was killed in the accident. A BMW car was also involved in the accident. The victim was thought to have been a pedestrian waiting to cross the road, but it later transpired that he was in fact a passenger thrown through the upper front window of the bus.

    Trivia

    The information announcements currently used on Tramlink are voiced by British actress Judi Dench .

    See also

    References

    External links

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