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Tramlink (originally and sometimes still called Croydon Tramlink) is a tramway system in south Londonmarker in the United Kingdommarker which began operation in May 2000. The service is operated by London Tramlink, part of Transport for London (TfL).

Tramlink serves seven National Rail stations but has only one interchange with London Underground; one of the factors leading to its creation was that the area around Croydonmarker has no Underground service.

Tramlink runs 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, though not track, shared with a third rail electrified Network Rail line.

History

Construction

In 1990 Croydon Councilmarker with the then London Regional Transport (LRT) put the project to Parliament and the Croydon Tramlink Act 1994 resulted which gave LRT the legal power to build and run Tramlink.

In 1996 Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) won a 99 year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract to design, build, operate and maintain the Tramlink system. Under this contract Tramtrack Croydon Ltd 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 the operation of the tram system to CentreWest Buses, now part of First London. TCL was a partnership comprising First Group, 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).

Former lines re-used

Route 2 runs parallel to the Crystal Palace to Beckenham Junction line of the Southern network between Birkbeckmarker and Beckenham Junctionmarker, the National Rail track had been singled some years earlier.

From Elmers End to Woodside route 1, and also route 2 from Arena, take part of the former British Rail branch line to Addiscombemarker then diverges to reach Addiscombe tram stop which is 500 metres west of the now demolished railway station. At Woodside, the old station buildings still stand disused, and the original platforms have been replaced by accessible low platforms.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 Wimbledonmarker and West Croydonmarker 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 the world's oldest aligned trackbed. 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 was dismantled to make way for the flyover that takes Tramlink over the West Croydonmarker to Suttonmarker railway line. The footbridge has been re-erected at Corfe Castlemarker station on the Swanage Railwaymarker.

Buyout by Transport for London

In March 2008 TfL announced that it had reached agreement to buy Tramtrack Croydon Limited (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 colour scheme to the vehicles, using the blue, white and green of the routes' symbol on TfL maps, to distinguish the trams from its buses operating in the area.

Current system

Network Map

See [761] for current network map.

Stops



The tram stops have low platforms, 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 long. They are virtually level with the doors and are all wider than . 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 tram stopmarker 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 Endmarker to Croydon and route 2 from Beckenham Junctionmarker to Croydon, running every 10 minutes Monday - Saturday daytime, every 30 minutes at other times, and route 3 from New Addingtonmarker to Wimbledonmarker every 7.5 minutes Monday - Saturday daytime, every 15 minutes at other times. From 2000 until 2006 services into Wimbledon ran from Elmers End. However, in 2006, services to Wimbledon started running to New Addington. The Addington route used to terminate in Croydon until Elmers End trams starting terminating in Croydon. The Beckenham Junction service was unchanged.

Since being taken over by TfL all routes have a maximum service interval of fifteen minutes service during all operational hours.

Change in Route Colours

When Transport for London took over operation and ownership a new network map was designed, combining Routes 1 and 2 as one service, coloured lime. However, the distinction is still made in practice, as trams from Elmers End on Route 1 change their numbers in central Croydonmarker to Route 2 (Beckenham Junction) and do the reverse when working in the other direction.

Route 1 (lime)





Route 1
Then to East Croydon and back as Route 2 to Beckenham Junction


Route 2 (lime)





Route 2
Then to East Croydon and back as route 1 to Elmers End


Route 3 (green)



Route 3
Then back to Wandle Park Then to East Croydon and back to New Addington


A Tramlink Ticket Machine


Fares and ticketing

As part of the TfL network, all TfL Bus Passes are valid on Tramlink - as are Travelcards that include any of zones 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Cash fares and pay-as-you-go Oyster Card fares are the same as on London Buses, although special fares may apply when using Tramlink feeder buses.

When using Oyster Cards, passengers must touch in on the platform before boarding the tram. Special arrangements apply at Wimbledon stationmarker, where the Tramlink stop is located within the National Rail and London Underground station.

Rolling Stock

Tramlink is operated with articulated low floor Flexity Swift CR-4000 trams built by Bombardier Transportation in Viennamarker. , the Tramlink fleet is 24 strong, with four more trams planned. To avoid the extra costs of a short production run, Tramlink is seeking to lease these from Edinburgh Trams, where the construction of new track and depot is facing long delays, but the rolling stock is due for delivery from early in 2010. The vehicles will be manufactured by CAF of Spain. To accommodate the extra capacity, some sections of single-track line may be doubled.

The trams are six-axle single-articulated double-ended cars, with four doors on each side. The low floor section stretches between both the outer doors through the articulation (which rests on an unpowered bogie). 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. 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 above rail-level, sloping down to in the doorways, a height that matches the platforms at tram stops, and each car has two wheelchair positions. The trams are long and 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 . They are based on the very similar class K-4000 built used on Cologne's low-platform routes. The fleet is maintained at Therapia Lane depot.

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

All trams except 2534 (which until recently has been at Crewemarker because of an accident) have now been 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/Stationmarker - Wimbledonmarker Through St Heliermarker, Mordenmarker and Morden Roadmarker (including via St. Helier Hospitalmarker and direct routes and routing variants within Sutton Town Centre)
SuttonmarkerTootingmarker Through St Heliermarker and Mitchammarker (including routing variants via Mitcham Junctionmarker and direct)
Mitcham JunctionmarkerMitcham town centremarker Through Mitcham Commonmarker
Central Croydonmarker - Coulsdonmarker Through Purley/Purley Stationmarker and could involve a Park and Ride scheme
Central Croydonmarker - Brixtonmarker Through Thornton Heathmarker, Norburymarker, Streathammarker and Streatham Hillmarker as well as past Mayday Hospitalmarker
Harrington Road/Beckenham JunctionmarkerCrystal Palacemarker 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, was the only extension being formally developed. The proposed route linked Harrington Road stop with Crystal Palace, and Crystal Palace directly 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 Stationmarker, and then running round the western edge of Crystal Palace Park (within the current park's perimeter) to the bus terminus near the parade. TfL have currently stated that due to lack of funding the plans for this extension will not be taken forward, but also say that they are committed to including new proposals for extensions to the tram as part of a future bid to Government.

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

A tram travelling on Church Street, Croydon
To the north and south of Croydon are some busy bus corridors, which themselves derive from earlier tram routes. These include the Purleymarker – Croydon – Streathammarker 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 Coulsdonmarker 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 roadmarker.

To the north of Croydon, it is again proposed to use a highway alignment based on London Road. To the south of Thornton Heath Pondmarker, 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 Norburymarker and between Norbury and Streatham, although Norbury itself is a pinch point. The proposal is to terminate the line at Streatham railway stationmarker, providing an interchange to the extended East London Line.

Other extensions

Work currently commissioned will also check out proposals to extend Tramlink to Biggin Hillmarker, Bromleymarker town centre, Lewishammarker, and Purley Waymarker. 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 2534 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 onboard announcements in a male voice are made by BBC news reader (and tram enthusiast) Nicholas Owen. The Announcer system is as follows: This tram is for Wimbledon, The next stop will be Merton Park

See also



References

  1. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/modesoftransport/1566.aspx Transport for London -London Tramlink
  2. , at p. 71, para. 30. c)
  3. http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/transport/pdf/final_ch04d.pdf London Dockland and Croydon Tramlink Extensions
  4. Crystal Palace extension options to reach the Parade PDF
  5. Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace
  6. Proposals to extend the Tramlink system Always Touch Out

External links




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