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Following on from part 1 which looked at the past, we now concentrate on the recent Tramlink update and look to the future.

A new tram at Wimbledon heading for Elmers End on a training run. Is this a sign of things to come? Thanks to Raji Toyyib for taking this photo.

The Problem of Success

Once TfL gained complete autonomy over Tramlink they were faced with a problem. The system was designed for around 24 million tram journeys a year but the current figure was nearer 29 million, and the standard of service provided did not match the aspirations of either the passenger or TfL itself. Indeed in terms of average passengers carried per tram Croydon was recently identified as the second busiest tram system in the UK and even beats Tyne and Wear Metro light rail. Indeed Manchester Metrolink may come out at number one, but even then only just. Given that in Manchester they sometimes couple the two-car trams together it is probably fair to say that Croydon has the most crowded trams in the UK. The obvious first steps were thus to decide on what pattern of improved service would be desirable, possible and appropriate and then to both acquire some more trams for this service and implement any infrastructure improvements necessary.

The New Trams

The interior of a new Variobahn tram. Note that unlike the existing trams the floor is at the same height throughout its length.

The floor is slightly raised over the wheels but you would hardly notice it.

The only platforms that appear to be modified for the new trams are the ones at East Croydon which are slightly curved as the platforms are built on a bridge. The modification is necessary because of the repositioning of the doors which means that there was not level access via the end doors. The work done is quite crude and can be identified by the yellow hatch marks. Note that the length of the platform was not an issue.

The new trams are an improvement over the older ones and shows how technology has advanced. The main advantage is that the entire tram is low floor, with the only concession made to accommodate this being the slight raising of the floor about the wheels. Being in five sections rather than three, the trams also feel less like a train and more suited to winding their way along the street. Like the older trams, the new designs have three bogies – sections two and four being suspended without any wheels below. The number of door openings are the same and, arguably, are better spaced out. This has partially been made possible by a more compact design for the driver’s cab and means that the passenger doors are distributed over almost the entire length of the tram. Finally they have air conditioning.

A rather neat feature is this red LED strip that warns you that the doors are about to close. When the doors are open they are green. The extensive use of LEDs to supplement the strip lighting gives a much more modern feel.

The Current Service

The service proposed, and which is now a reality, is arguably slightly bizarre. It has the feeling of the best that can be done without a major restructuring of the entire service and it is no secret that TfL would love to increase the frequency on the Wimbledon branch which currently has 8 trams per hour (tph). With a single platform terminus, however, at Wimbledon itself, an increase in frequency all the way to Wimbledon is going to be tricky until a second platform can be provided there. Part of the reason for the desire to increase the frequency must be to offer an improved service to Ampere Way – the stop for IKEA and other major stores in Valley Park – and whilst an improved service from Croydon to Wimbledon was not achievable, as an opening gambit an improved service to Ampere Way was.

It was also probably the case that it was recognised that the potential interchange at Elmers End was not being as effective and passenger friendly as it could be. It does not take a genius to spot that a 5tph service linking to a 4tph (off peak) and 6tph (peak) service is not going to lead to the best, or even consistent, connections. The only realistic way of sorting this out is to provide a sufficient frequency of trams so that timetabling for connections is just unnecessary.

The key to the initial solution was to reduce the current service to Elmers End by one to 4tph, and at the same time to introduce a new 4tph service between Therapia Lane (one stop beyond Ampere Way with a convenient turnback facility at the depot entrance) and Elmers End. At the same time the opportunity was also taken to restore the Beckenham Junction service to 6tph.

The problem now was how to dovetail the new 4tph service in between the 8tph New Addington – Wimbledon service and the existing Elmers End service (now at 4tph) in a way that was workable. Obviously one cannot satisfactorily overlay a 4tph service onto an existing 8tph service and the gaps will inevitably be erratic. Furthermore the line between Sandilands and Arena now has three services. Two are 4tph and one is 6tph. Clearly any attempt at timetabling an regular headway was going to be impossible.

Two Variobahns passing just outside Elmers End tramstop using the newly installed passing loop.

Recent Major Infrastructure Improvements

As well as procuring the new trams, the infrastructure needed to be in place to handle the improved service. TfL had already announced that the improved service would include more trams to Elmers End so it was no surprise that they replaced a cripple siding near Elmers End with a short passing loop on the section of single track between Elmers End and Arena. Doubtless a more flexible solution would be a second platform at Elmers End, but that would be more expensive and require a much longer timescale.

The other main piece of work carried out was to double most of the the long single track section between Mitcham Junction and Mitcham. It was surprising that on the opening of Tramlink this was initially single track, as it is a long unbroken section. Furthermore it was double track to the end of BR days and so the formation, and possibly even serviceable track, was already in place. The rationale for doing this work now is less obvious because the frequency of service over this section has not yet changed. It is more a case of added resilience and ability to recover the service. It does fit in with TfL’s declared intention for the next stage of improvement though.

New double track just east of Mitcham tram stop. Doubling this long section almost the entire way to Mitcham Junction should aid reliability in the short term and service frequency to Wimbledon in the long term.

The benefits so far

Like London Overground the philosophy on Tramlink is not to distinguish between peak hour and inter-peak service. The difference is simply the level of crowding. Certainly one could argue that in peak travel periods the new service achieves its objective in increasing capacity. In inter-peak periods one could also see the benefit of providing a direct service to Ampere Way from all stops from Addiscombe to Elmers End inclusive, even though a change at Sandilands was hardly inconvenient. One could argue that the trams are more frequent along the new route, but with the erratic service there is a high chance that you will wait exactly the same amount of time as you did prior to the new service being introduced.

The next stage

So what next?

The key objective is clearly to get more trams to Wimbledon and indeed TfL have stated this publicly. There is no officially stated policy on how to do it, but it seems highly likely this will be done by extending the new route 4 (Elmers End – Therapia Lane) rather than providing a more frequent service over the entire length of route 3 (Wimbledon – New Addington). If it were the latter then one would have expected some of the new trams to be used for an increased New Addington – Therapia Lane service. Whilst just increasing the frequency of the entire New Addington – Wimbledon service would be the easiest, neatest solution from the passengers’ perspective, it does lead to a massive over-provision on the long New Addington branch that probably cannot be justified.

With regards to upgrading the Wimbledon Branch, nothing can happen without sorting out Wimbledon itself. A few years past there was talk of abandoning the station and terminating in the town centre. Certainly Network Rail would love to get all of platform 10 back, but this has not been mentioned recently so we must presume that there is somehow a plan to somehow squeeze in a second platform.

The view looking west from Phipps Bridge tram stop. This section is crying out to be doubled.

TfL has committed to removing any remaining single track stretches on the Wimbledon route, which isn’t quite the same as as saying it will be double track all the way. Beddington Lane to Mitcham Junction flyover (exclusive) will be easy and is the obvious section to tackle next. Phipps Bridge to Morden Road (exclusive) is a little harder as it involves crossing three small streams that are part of the River Wandle and so some bridge construction will doubtless be involved. No doubt the Environment Agency will take a keen interest in the work. The flyovers over the West Croydon and Mitcham Junction rail lines would cost a fortune to double for very little benefit and can safely be assumed to be off the menu. If nothing else the timescales involved would preclude these as part of any imminent upgrade. A short section of interlaced track at Mitcham has always been regarded as too difficult to sort out as it means removing large concrete blocks which support a weak retaining wall.

That leaves the short section of single track just to the west of Mitcham Junction where the tram route goes under the bridge carrying the A237 above. The suggestion was made years ago that it would be possible to provide a new opening to the south of the existing one and this currently appears to be subject to serious consideration. Although the work would appear to be expensive for a short section of track, it would remove the operating restriction where Mitcham Junction tram stop has single track at both ends of the platforms and effectively makes the stop a passing loop.

Mitcham Junction tram stop looking west towards Mitcham. If rumours are to be believed, instead of swinging right to go under the single available arch, the westbound track will continue straight on and under the bridge approach.

Untangling the service

Readers who can follow the patterns in the recently introduced service are probably thinking that the whole thing has become a complete dog’s dinner with erratic headways and inconsistent connection times. No indication of the proposed eventual service has been officially given so we will take the rare liberty of speculating what might happen. To do so it is necessary to take a step back and look at the entire Tramlink network as a whole.

In essence the problem is to match the service to and from Wimbledon (the western branch) with the branches to the east (New Addington, Elmers End and Beckenham Junction). Services from the East are also capable of going around the town centre loop and returning east again. Services from Wimbledon cannot do this.

We have to make a few presumptions so let’s state these at the outset. We presume that the desired frequencies are:

  • Wimbledon – 12tph
  • New Addington – 8tph
  • Elmers End – 8tph
  • Beckenham Junction – 6tph

The whole thing would be a lot simpler if the Beckenham Junction service were also 8tph, but the route running parallel to National Rail from Birkbeck to Beckenham Junction is single track with a couple of passing places. The worst remaining single track section on the entire network is between Harrington Road and Avenue Road stop. In the middle of this is Birkbeck tram stop which is a single platform serving both directions. It would not be easy to provide a passing loop here due to the tram/rail overbridge at the end of the platform. To reliably provide 8tph on this branch is probably a challenge and unnecessary anyway.

The only real way to provide a regularly spaced service on the bulk of the Tramlink system is to only provide 4 trams per hour between Wimbledon and New Addington. It then follows that to maintain a even interval service of 8tph to New Addington there has to be a 4tph service New Addington – Croydon Loop. That leaves 8tph from Wimbledon which have to go somewhere other than New Addington. It would be possible to split those equally between Elmers End and Beckenham Junction, but with 6 tph to Beckenham Junction overall this would probably lead to a very complex and erratic working timetable. Far more likely is the notion of sending all of these 8tph to Elmers End.

This will of course lead to an erratic service to and from Elmers End but with an additional 6tph between Arena and Sandilands serving Beckenham Junction, the frequencies would be sufficiently intense for it not to matter. The exception to this is Elmers End tramstop itself which would have 8tph but alternating between 5 minutes apart and 10 minutes apart. Funnily enough that is exactly what happens now, and the current timetable gives a feeling that it is really there to pave the way and test various aspects of the ultimately desired service.

If the above description is correct, and bear in mind it is speculation, then it seems likely that some time in the next few years we will see:

Infrastructure improvements

  • An option taken up for four further “Stadtbahn” trams.
  • Plans to provide an extra tram platform at Wimbledon.
  • Further doubling on the Wimbledon branch

A timetable change

  • All Elmers End – Therapia Lane trams continuing to Wimbledon
  • All Elmers End – Croydon Town Loop trams diverted to Wimbledon
  • 4tph (50%) of New Addington – Wimbledon trams diverted to run New Addington – Croydon Town Loop

Looking Further to the Future

Looking further ahead, all political parties support the principle of extending Tramlink to Crystal Palace which would diverge from the Beckenham Junction branch after Harrington Road. If that proposal is developed it will be interesting to see how the indicative service would fit in with any timetable in existence at the time. Even assuming a simple additional service of Crystal Palace – Croydon Loop one has to wonder if Arena – East Croydon can handle an extra 6tph in each direction. That becomes 20tph in each direction as far as Sandilands and 28tph on the short stretch between Sandilands and East Croydon, which crosses the A232 red route. It may be that one of the branches will be reduced to a shuttle service.

Overall, Croydon has been lucky that the pieces were in place to implement a cheap tram system. What started off as a cheap and cheerful system now has issues of capacity and it looks like some expensive infrastructure upgrades are going to be inevitable at some time in the future. Nevetheless those upgrades are probably going to be better value for money than any other rail-based scheme in London. Comparisons with the DLR are inevitable – Tramlink was a solution designed to fit the available space, infrastructure and money rather than one created from the ground up to fit the need. Like the DLR, it has also been an overwhelming success, despite initial hiccups and problems. It will thus be interesting to see if it follows a similar pattern to the DLR in terms of expansion and if, when it reaches 25, it’ll be getting the same kind of plaudits which it will most likely deserve.

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There are 101 comments on this article
  1. Si says:

    I’d considered the Elmers End terminus for line 4 is so that either line 2 or line 4 then gets diverted to Crystal Palace, with modest upping of frequency – an additional 4tph – to bring Elmers End and Crystal Palace to both be 6tph. Does Elmer’s End station itself actually need 8tph?

  2. mr_jrt says:

    One thing that has occurred to me with systems like Tramlink is the strange quandary that comes from having a low-frequency heavy rail option that is poorly used because it has low frequency, but investment can’t be justified due to the poor usage. Conversion to light rail makes expansion of capacity viable, so usage goes through the roof once investment is unlocked. Eventually though, you reach the point where light rail cannot provide enough capacity.

    What is the option then? Reversion back to heavy rail? A hybrid approach?

    I view the Wimbledon Tramlink route as foreshadowing a line close to my heart – the Watford – St. Albans line as they are similar in many ways. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out with Tramlink!

  3. Rob says:

    I wonder if there’s something that could be done with platform 9 at Wimbledon – maybe if the trams could be quickly turned around they could share with FCC. However probably not straightforward to implement, given they would be mixing a timetabled and untimetabled service (and the number of delayed FCC trains!).

    There’s also a small siding between Dundonald Road and Wimbledon which could perhaps be used as another platform but would involve quite a long walk to get to the gateline.

  4. Andrew Bowden says:

    One option at Wimbledon may be to make use of the double tracking and cripple siding area just outside the station. Bung two platforms in and Network Rail would get platform 10 back. True, it would be a walk from the rest of the body of the station, although there is potential for an additional exit close to the town centre. There may well be just enough space for a third platform if they wanted to futureproof. Interesting challenge getting access from the main station but no doubt do-able.

    It’s not ideal but it would be difficult to imagine fitting street-running or anything in to Wimbledon Town Centre – it’s a nightmare traffic-wise as it is as there’s often little in the way of options for bypassing it.

    Certainly there are other options – some sort of raised platform that straddles the mainline tracks for example (several buildings, the station and the road are essentially on a bridge over the tracks) but that would be an expensive option compared to the relatively simple use of the area just outside the station.

  5. Andrew Bowden says:

    Just spotted in this TfL doc that one of the reasons for double tracking Mitcham/Mitcham Junction is to allow an additional stop inbetween, subject to funding.
    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/Item05-Tramlink-Performance-and-Planning-Update.pdf

  6. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @mr_jrt

    Yes the thought wasn’t lost on me either. And if Tramlink hadn’t have happened would we have got London Overground to Wimbledon with 4 t (trains) ph ? And would it have been well used ?

    I would say as a gut feeling, without any quantative evidence for this whatsoever, that between Wimbledon and Croydon people actually want trams and it wasn’t really just the frequency that was the issue. I think that apart from the frequency the main factors are:

    i) Trams serve central Croydon where are lot of people want to go to or want to travel through. Don’t underestimate the significance of a direct service between Valley Park and the New Addington Estate that can’t really be replicated by trains or any kind of DLR replacement.

    ii) All the stops on Tramlink justify their existence. I can’t really see a rail service or even DLR type service being appropriate for a system with so many stops.

    iii) A lot of places served by Tramlink are places where money is a real issue for the household. Trams are correctly perceived as being as cheap as buses but a better way to travel and rail thought of as more expensive. In particular child Oystercard (Zip) enable the user to travel for free but that is not the case for trains or the DLR.

    iv) The trams are regarded as very user accessible. Arguably trains can be as well but trams have made journeys possible that just aren’t so easy by train. Not only is the tram stop usually closer but it is also more accessible as is the tram itself. I am sure mums with pushchairs and those on motorised scooters have a freedom to travel that they would not otherwise had.

    I just believe that what people want are trams. You and I can think that logically it ought to be replaced by something “better” one day but I think that the only improvement for the future that will be wanted by the users is longer trams.

    @Rob

    Yes Wimbledon station is the big issue. I don’t think it is necessary to add the complication of trying to share the track serving platform 9 with trams and trains. I believe the “Clapham Junction” solution will be possible and is what will happen but I cannot get any official confirmation of this.

    It is known that Network Rail want platform 10 back. They glibly talk about relocating the tram terminus elsewhere (much as they do about getting someone else to take over the Hayes branch or Crossrail taking over Heathrow Express). I wonder if there is an element of politics. Get two tram platforms established at Wimbledon then if Network Rail do manage to succeed in providing an alternative tram solution then it too will require two replacement platforms. I really can’t see Network Rail surrendering any further capacity or allowing a further constraint to flexibility being imposed on them. At the end of the day do you allow something the equivalent of a train two carriages long to displace trains of at least four carriages ? The trains are busy at Wimbledon too ! I think it is another stroke of luck in the Tramlink story that it was conceived at time when rail travel was less popular and British Rail was happy to release platform 10. This was probably in the hope that it would bring more custom to the trains and also increase the chance of Tramlink happening so that they would not be lumbered with the very unprofitable and inconvenient to run Wimbledon – West Croydon service.

  7. Si says:

    Thanks Andrew, that document shows what I thought about line 4 just sat there waiting for Crystal Palace, rather than a wholly new service. Line 1 to Elmers End would be 4tph (as now with line 4 in play), and Crystal Palace would have a 2tph shuttle to East Croydon as well as 4tph Line 4 to Wimbledon.

  8. mr_jrt says:

    @Pedantic of Purley

    I don’t think relocating the platforms outside the station would be so problematic actually….as I mentioned on the Blackfriars article:

    “I don’t think the streets are too great an issue though. Heading up Hartfield Road to the station would remove the need to run along the narrow domestic streets past the houses and car park entrance on Hartfield Crescent. A one-way loop around the Broadway (where there are mostly already bus lanes) then up and along Queens Road, then down Ashcombe Road and back onto the existing alignment to Haydons Road. Alternatively, purchase one of the homes on Queens Road for demolition and you can rejoin the formation much earlier.”

    …though I strongly suspect the inset bay option will be what happens.

  9. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Thanks for the link Andrew. I wish I had this when I wrote the article.

    Yes, Willow Lane stop looks like a serious possibility. The link backs up my understanding that TfL supports it but its message to Merton Council is “You want it, you pay for it”.

    Most interesting of all are the frequency diagrams at the back in the appendices.

    The final one is a diagram as it currently is.

    The penultimate one is a plan of how it would be if the Crystal Palace extension was included. There would be 4 tph fewer to Elmers End and 6 tph to Crystal Palace giving an overall increase of 2 tph Arena – Sandilands. BML2 is looking scarier and scarier. So Elmers End would have a reduced service but I presume it would always be possible to run an Elmers End – Arena shuttle if a more frequent service were needed.

    What is horrible about the Crystal Palace plan is the proposal to retain 8 tph Wimbledon – New Addington which, as I point out in the article, will lead to a distorted service with uneven intervals either on the Wimbledon branch or on the New Addington branch. This does not bode will for the short term future as it suggests that rather than sort the thing out properly TfL are going to just extend the Therapia Lane trams to Wimbledon. This will lead not to a regular 5 minute service on the Wimbledon branch but to a 7½, 4, 3½ (approximately) service interval which is pretty pointless and means that if you turn up at random there roughly a 75% chance that you will wait as long as you did before. Alternatively they could sort out the Wimbledon branch but then the New Adddington branch would have a 5 then 10 minute interval giving 8 trams per hour but not at even intervals which would lead to a deterioration in service. Basically with these frequencies a totally neat solution is not possible but it could be a substantial improvement on what is suggested.

  10. Jules says:

    While services from Wimbledon can’t go round the town centre loop, would it be viable to have them terminate and turn back in the central track at East Croydon?

  11. Greg Tingey says:

    Jues
    Actually happens when out-of-course or emergency working occurs.

    I note the proposed extension to Xtal Pal is right up to the bus station at the top of the hill – an excellent idea.
    The sooner the better, in my opinion.

  12. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Having read the document in more detail:

    • It specifically states that Wimbledon will have a 5 minutes service. This then condemns New Addington to a 5 then 10 minutes service (8 tph). This is the same tph as today but the average waiting time will increase and trams will be unevenly loaded.
    • It talks about double tracking to Beckenham Junction. I cannot believe full-double tracking can economically be done unless the Birkbeck-Beckenham Junction heavy rail line is taken over but certainly there is scope for improvement. A lot of it just requires cutting back the embankment and putting in the track.
    • If the East Croydon tram stop was to be widened as stated then the opportunity exists to run a tram from New Addington and one from another destination to arrive at East Croydon at approximately the same time and permit cross-platform interchange before departing – one for Wimbledon the other for the town centre loop.
    • If an additional platform were to be provided at West Croydon (or East Croydon so that there were two island platforms) the the same thing could happen in the reverse direction.
    • With the above in place you could run:

      i) 6 tph Crystal Palace – Wimbledon

      ii) 6 tph Beckenham Junction – Wimbledon

      iii) 8 tph New Addington – Croydon town centre loop. To change for a Wimbledon tram half of them could have a cross-platform connection as stated above and and an approximately 2½ minute wait four the other half. This could be tweaked a bit to cut it down to 2 minutes.

      iv) Elmers End – Croydon town centre as desired and supplemented if necessary by an Arena – Elmers End shuttle.

  13. Patrickov says:

    Wait… won’t Crystal Palace – Wimbledon via Arena be bloodily-and-half-circularly long? (Crossing BML twice)

    Or is it possible to make a kind of T-junction and introduce a 4tph New Addington – Crystal Palace? That would provide New Addington residents a choice to change rail at Crystal Palace…

  14. Long Branch Mike says:

    Re: the TFL doc’s proposed service schematic (on the last page of http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/Item05-Tramlink-Performance-and-Planning-Update.pdf), they omitted the Overground roundel at Crystal Palace.

    This intermodal link would connect 2 rapidly growing networks, Tramlink & Overground, and should be very popular.

    Anyone know of the planned route to Crystal Palace?

    Is there any possibility of reusing the disused Paxton & Crescent Wood Tunnels at Crystal Palace for possible further extensions to the north?

    I don’t have my London Rail Atlas handy, but I recall this line which includes the Paxton & Crescent Wood Tunnels is disused quite far north, and could re-open up new areas to rail service.

  15. Anonymous says:

    If the tram goes up to the bus station in Crystal Palace, it will leave the current trackbed and rise up an embankment to CP station, going through the existing station entrance (the temporary one that will be removed soon with the station work being done), across the station approach road, and then up the hill (on the edge of CP Park) to the bus station, where it can finish in an alignment suitable for continuing along Crystal Palace Park Parade.

    However the Paxton tunnel is at a far lower altitude on the other side of the parade. I think it would be very difficult to get the tram from the top of the parade down to the tunnel entrance. However the parade is wide and already has bus lanes that could be dual-purposed with a tram track – but that still doesn’t solve the altitude problem.

    Or the protected bat havens in the tunnels.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I also suspect that to fit the single carriage tram ramp up from CP station the entire of platform 1 and 2 would have to be shifted slightly so the tram ramp can go up where Platform 1 is currently. That’s a lot of work on very busy platforms.

    I expect the tram stop would be build besides the CP station end of Ledrington Road.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ah, I see the plan would be to get the tram to street level by Anerley Road Bridge (http://goo.gl/maps/M7FFk), coming through where the advertising hoardings currently are, and then run the tram by (or presumably partially over as you can see on the street view on the link above) the existing train lines to Crystal Palace station.

  18. Jeremy says:

    Looking at the TfL Tramlink doc linked above, I noticed it says that the Crystal Palace extension would enable double tracking of the route to Beckenham Junction (3.18 (d)) – I know the CP extension at one time included withdrawal of the National Rail CP-BJ service, with conversion of line (fully) to Tramlink (and a Tramlink CP-BJ service) – is this part of the current proposal?

    Looking at a map, from CP going north on the ex LCD CP HL branch would seem (assuming the level issue at CP mentioned can be resolved – it can’t be much worse than getting the tramway up to the Bus Station in the first place) straightforward as far as Honour Oak (former station) – from there continuing along the railway formation would lead to nowhere in particular before hitting an operational railway: the better (at first glance) option would to turn left to Peckham Rye and Peckham – and wasn’t there a proposal to bring trams into Peckham from the North as part of CRT?

  19. James GB says:

    There were two different proposals for the ‘ramp’ up at CP. Going up Anerley Hill was one, but the one they went for last time was round the back of platform 1. I was a bit surprised at that too, but I had a look last week and most of the land there is low rise domestic garages etc. I think you would need to demolish a couple of properties near the road bridge on Anerley Hill but not the whole terrace.

    The CP high level branch is built on fairly extensively except for the bit through Dulwich Woods, past the Horniman Museum and on to roughly Honour Oak station. Even some of that is built on, but there are good, wide, little used roads running parallel that would make good alternatives. The same can be said for the tunnels: if you were determined to restore trams here, you would probably be better off by-passing them with street running. It’s the ideal place for it.

  20. Rational Plan says:

    There was a Modern railways article on the Tramlink a few months ago. It also involved an interview with TFL about tramlink. It quite clear that the Wimbledon branch and it’s station is the first priority followed by the Crystal Palace line.

    For the future it was intimated that a second central Croydon line would be needed between West and East Croydon station and the ideal route would by via the back roads through the office district and coincidently past the new East Croydon station entrance, That would allow some services from the East to go via the new route and avoid the loop.

    After that the most likely extension seems to be Wimbledon to Sutton via St helier as it has lots of nice wide central reservations and grass verges for a tram line to run down. Other short extensions off the Wimbledon line may be considered. The most natural extensions North of Croydon run in to the problem of narrow roads, but a short Southern extension into South Croydon could be possible.

    Bromley also seems to be on the radar but I can’t see an easy off street route, so I’m not sure how that would be done.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Any potential for tram trains? Eg from beckenham junction calling at shortlands and Bromley south before reversing in platform 2 or a new platform by wait rose car park.

    Alternatively an extension from elmers end on road may be better than from beckenham jn as it would avoid the congested low bridge at shortlands station on the a222 and make use of spare capacity at elmers end. 2 options spring to mind at elmers end either via stone park avenue, b251 to Westmorland road or the A214 to Eden park then following the off road cycle route to barnfield wood road and straight over the b road to Westmorland road before turning left into the town centre to call at Bromley south and potentially Bromley north/grove park.

  22. James Bunting says:

    To Anonymous@2127

    Potential for tram trains would be limited for a number of counts.
    1. Conflict with Southern and South Eastern services, as well as freight, in accessing the National Rail tracks at BKJ
    2. Differences in platform height at BKJ, SRT and BMS. A planning principle with Tramlink has always been genuine access for all at all stops, requiring consistency in platform height.
    3. Lack of track capacity due to the amount of existing passenger and freight traffic.
    4. Platform 2 at BMS has at least 6 trains per hour using it for much of the day, with more at peak hours. There is insufficient space beside Waitrose car park for a platform of any description, nor anywhere to provide access, both for the tram train and the passengers. The car park boundary runs up to the abandoned goods siding adjacent to Platform 1.
    5. Where is the traffic demand to justify an extension?

    The options for an extension from Elmers End to Bromley look suspiciously as if they have come from a street atlas. Because of the geography of the Ravensbourne Valley there don’t appear to be any realistic routings that do not require a substantial amount of street running. The roads you have mentioned, in particular Westmoreland Road, are already heavily used and are not particularly wide. Apart from the considerable road engineering to take account of road contours and junctions, there is no space for the provision of tram stops or bus stop lay-bys.

    Before considering any extension in detail the basic question needs to be asked – is an extension needed? The geography of the area means that there is little that an extension of the existing Tramlink network would gain by being extended to Bromley, and little that Bromley would gain by being joined on to the Tramlink network. Journey times would be considerably more than the existing 119 bus for passengers wishing to travel from Bromley Town Centre to Croydon Town Centre. Street running would result in no advantage between Beckenham Junction and Bromley South, and TfL only consider it necessary to provide a 20 minute frequency bus along that stretch anyway. The alternative routing via Stone Park Avenue would save some time but produce little, if any, traffic.

    I have not seen the Modern Railways article that Rational Plan mentions. However, the Mayor’s Office, TfL and others have at times used the term Bromley to mean ‘somewhere in the London Borough of’, rather then’Town Centre’ Hence being told that Bromley was connected to the Overground during the recent mayoral elections. when Crystal Palace would have been more accurate.

  23. Slugabed says:

    ….In fact a faster Bromley-Croydon connection could more easily be made,and probably involving less demolition,and certainly less disruption,by re-instating the Bromley Junction curve…

  24. Greg Tingey says:

    Bromley …
    Except that, assuming a suitable off the main line route could be found, joining Bromley S-to-North & taking over the Grove Park Branch would be a very good idea.
    It’s a long way through Bromley centre on foot, between the stations, and the streets are either: very very wide, or pedestrianised already.
    The difficult bit is that inside the Beckenham Jn / Shortlands / Ravensbourne triangle, population density is low, the physical geography is not helpful, and the roads are narrow & twiddly.
    What that area really needs is for all stations between Herne Hill & Shortlands to go to four-track, i.e. passing loops, whilst leaving the main line double, unless one can justify 4-tracking the long tunnel ( Somehow I doubt that last one!)

  25. timbeau says:

    The problem between Brixton and Shortlands is that although there are already four tracks they follow different routes. (Indeed if you include the original route between Bromley South and Victoria via Crystal Palace there are six tracks for most of the way!) All these routes have stopping services on them, between which the long distance services have to be squeezed. The result is a relatively high concentration of stations in that area for the density of population, and consequently a relatively sparse service at any particular station. However, although overall capacity would certainly be improved by, for example, diverting stopping services from the Kent House route to take the Gispy Hill route, or running Catford loop services via New Beckenham and the Nunhead spur, I can’t see the good people of Sydenham Hill or Beckenham Hill being peresuaded that closure of their local station is a price worth paying for better frequencies at a station further away.

  26. Anonymous says:

    You frequently talk of latent demand – Bromley, for a route to Croydon, is full of it. What I am less clear on is how fast that route would have to be to get a switch in users. The 119 takes ~45 minutes to get to East Croydon from Bromley North, so a tram would have to better that. Alternatively, the 227 to Beckenham Road tram stop and change. I worked in central Croydon for three months and the journey is tiresome compared to into and out of London.

    I think doubling the Birkbeck route may be on the cards – I have heard talk of sorting platform 7 out at Norwood Junction (one new crossover needed at the top of the flydown from CP) which would then render the BKJ service even less useful than it is now, making it ripe for full conversion…

    …and also easy to reintroduce the spur to Kent House with a single tram platform at the south east of the station. Combined with a slight remodelling of the station, making platform 1 the up fast so that using the platform 2 turnback facility doesn’t affect performance as much would make it a usefully connected termination point – Thameslink, Blackfriars, Victoria or even Clapham Junction (Overground) shuttle?!

  27. ben says:

    Regarding the proposals for the crystal palace extention – it originally always mentioned ( and was “sold” ) as including taking over the birbeck rail line to double up, and run to beckenham junction – when the leaflets started arriving, this part of the plan had been quietly dropped. I believe the late ( and much missed ) tramlink guru Stephen Parascando pointed out that most of the birkbeck line to CP was in fact rather well used on the eastern end, so you would somehow have to get a tram through a mile of dense south london housing, although google earth suggests there is plenty of space around Orchard school, that might not be where people would use a tram stop.

    Notwithstanding that, I can vouch that the BJ- Birbeck line is incredibly under-used (the only time I ever remember seeing anyone standing on the BIRBECK platform heading to BJ was the day after the london bombings, when it was being patrolled by a lone WPC ) a double track for the tram would probably bring much improved TPH flexibility for the other bits of the system

  28. Whiff says:

    On the subject of future extensions:-

    Crystal Palace – there seems to be widespread agreement that extending to Crystal Palace is a good idea so what will be the catalyst to finally make it happen. A change of mayor? A change of Government? An economic upturn?

    Bromley – anonymous 10:23 has beaten me to it but I too disagree with James Bunting. Bromley is now the one local urban centre that does not have good connections with Croydon. After all you can now get to Kensington Olympia, Whitechapel or Brighton in about the same time it takes the 119 bus to trundle through West Wickham and Hayes. It’s only about 6 miles between Croydon and Bromley so surely it must be possible to build a tram that does the journey significantly more quickly.

    Morden and Sutton – interesting to note in the TFL doc linked to be Andrew Bowden that a stated aim for extending the trams to Sutton is to provide better connections between Sutton and the Northern Line. If and when that finally happens it will only have taken about a hundred years to correct that particular historical wrong!

  29. James Bunting says:

    Anonymous @ 1023 and Whiff @ 1330

    I would be happy if there was a Tramlink branch from Croydon to Bromley. Yes, there is a sizeable commuter demand from the Bromley area to Central Croydon. With the decline in shopping facilities in Bromley there is also off-peak shopping demand. However, the point I was trying to make was that I didn’t think it would be able to do the journey any faster than the existing bus service because of the geography and therefore not add any value to the network by having the link. Any route would need to link up with the existing network as well as generating traffic in between.

    Most of Tramlink is based on old railway lines or, in the case of Arena to Harrington Road and Lloyd Park to Fieldway, by stretches of undeveloped land. Unfortunately there are no such assets between Beckenham Junction or Elmers End and Bromley. The two towns have always pointed in different directions as far as development is concerned. There is no direct road between the them, with what is generally known as Langley Park in the middle, requiring travel to be either via Beckenham to the north or West Wickham to the south. Indeed, despite the Tilling company having bus operations in both towns from before WW1 the 119 bus linking the two was not introduced until 1939.

    As far as the Crystal Palace extension is concerned it, too, had been my understanding that this would also produce a Beckenham Junction to Crystal Palace service and double track between Harrington Road and Beckenham Junction. I know that Bromley Council had objected to the resultant loss of a peak hour service via Birkbeck (the main time when the service does get used), but I would have thought that with a proper interchange at Crystal Palace this could have been overcome, especially with the journey possibilities onto Overground and a higher frequency than the current service.

  30. Jonno says:

    Could part of the Wimbledon loop be converted to tramlink with far higher frequency which would solve the Wimbledon station capacity problem?

    Trams from Croydon/Sutton could terminate at Tooting, Colliers Wood, Streatham etc

    I recognise that there might be problems trying to provide those interchange connections at Sutton, Streatham Common / Streatham and People would also lose their direct service to Central London which might not go down well either! But worth a thought.

  31. Anonymous says:

    @Jonno

    TfL specifically wants an extension to run as close to St. Helier hospital as possible, so I don’t think that using the loop could work for them.

  32. Taz says:

    Crystal Palace extension now seems to be backed by Boris for 2016 so just needs funding. A new TfL Business Plan is due before year-end which will show what is possible and when for this and the Deep Tube Programme.

  33. Andrew Bowden says:

    @Jonno – there is already a lot of press and politics at the moment about the potential terminating of all Sutton loop trains at Blackfriars (the way some people are talking it’s like a short change of trains is going to severely ruin their lives and send house prices plummeting) so I can’t see converting part of the loop to Tramlink going down well. And then the other question is, what happens to the other part of the loop?

  34. Rogmi says:

    How about:
    Start at Sutton Throwley Way (keep it off Sutton High St), follow the bus route to Grove Road.
    Knock the building down at the Corner of Grove Road and Bridge Road and then down to the start of the loop track to the west of Sutton station.

    Along the loop to Tooting then either:
    Branch off at the junction of Streatham Road – the embankment can be lowered and the road under the bridge raised to normal street level. Then along Streatham Road to the junction with London Road at Figges March.
    Or
    Branch off at the site of Tooting Junction, through Lidl’s car park and join London Road, then along Figges Marsh (although there is a bit of a bottleneck at that section of London Road near Tooting station).

    Then
    From London Road / Streatham Road, round Holborn Way, along Western Road towards Colliers Wood, along Merantun Way (the old main line track) to Morden Road. Past Morden Road station to the roundabout at Morden and then loop round Morden station and back to Morden Hall Road (or just skip Morden station – it’s not far to walk from Morden Hall). Then follow the 164 route from Morden Hall to Throwley Way via the St Helier Avenue dual carriage way.

    There could be an option for a branch off to join Tramlink at Morden Road station. There could also be a terminus at St Helier Hospital if required (fit it in with the new hospital if it’s ever built!) with trains alternating between Sutton and St Helier.

    It would mean people on the loop no longer have acces to London via Streatham, but there will be access at Wimbledon.

    The east side of the loop (via Mitcham Junction and Hackbride) would be unusable because of other main line services using that route, but at least it would give passengers on the Sutton – Tooting side a much improved and regular service!
    :-)

  35. JamesC says:

    Its interesting to have a look at how these sorts of platform issues are overcome in other countries/towns.

    The ‘recently’ upgraded and extended tram system in Istanbul uses similar size/length trams as does the ‘London’ one. Many of their platforms are simply raised areas at the side of the roads with ramps upto to them. For those not on the side of roads (e.g. interchange stations etc) then some of them are again as simple as this, and to save space on many of these ‘non-roadside’ stations their is no entrances/exit to the surroundings to one platform, and travels simply jump off one platform, cross the tracks, and jump up onto the other one! There are usually ramps at one end for wheelchair access as well – They even do this with island platforms as well

    This seems to work quite well and gets rid of the need for over bridges/large construction of entry/exit ways on both sides of the platform, and above all saves space.

    I’m not sure the lawyers would let us get away with it in this country mind you….

  36. stimarco says:

    Re. The “Kent House spur”:

    This is something I’m very familiar with, it being the childhood puzzle that got me interested in the history of the railways. (I grew up just around the corner from the station, in Kings Hall Road.)

    This is one of those railway oddities that came about as a result of the bitter conflicts between the SER and LC&DR. There was never a completed chord here: it was abandoned before completion—the LC&DR started work on it as a spoiler tactic against a rival project to connect to Crystal Palace. (Their original plan was to run trains into the Low Level station via Birkbeck.) A short siding existed on the embankment for a while, but this was abandoned many years ago. The bridge over the access path to the interior of the triangle was already gone by the late 1970s, so that would need to be reinstated too.

    The station building makes adding a bay platform for trams difficult: the only subway linking the platforms runs right through the middle of the station building, so the trams can’t share the Network Rail platforms. (Both the loops are there for very good reasons and NR won’t want to give them up.) So any trams would likely need to terminate in platforms constructed at road level in front of the ticket office, much as they do at Beckenham Junction.

  37. ChrisMitch says:

    @JamesC
    Tram stops are like that here as well.
    Some of the old stations which were completely replaced by trams (cf Mitcham) were rebuilt with low-level platforms and cross-track access to both sides. And the on-street tram stops in Croydon are just glorified bus stops, with (very) raised pavements.
    This is why it is 100% impossible for our trams to share tracks and platforms with trains – there is about a 2-foot difference in platform height!

  38. BarryD says:

    @stimarco
    “Both the loops are there [Kent House] for very good reasons” What are the reasons? There are very few terminators or starters in the timetable. Do slow trains get looped there?

  39. solar penguin says:

    @BarryD
    Yes, slow trains can get looped there to allow late-running fast trains to pass.

  40. stimarco says:

    @BarryD:

    Yes, they’re used to allow fast trains to pass and to keep the timetable resilient. The line offers very few passing opportunities, so removing the loops would not go down well with Network Rail.

    Kent House’s outer platforms are occasionally used as cripple sidings, but are primarily for handling peak services that start / terminate at Kent House as well, allowing some services to skip stops on the way to Beckenham Junction. At least, that’s what happened when I was living in the area up to the late ’90s. I suspect this may have changed with the higher service frequencies. It used to be just 2 tph each way back when I lived there.

    In any case, it’s all moot: that chord was built prior to the construction of Kent House station and could only connect to the Up Loop line now. (And even then, only with a very sharp curve.) It only ever saw a siding and has never been used as a connecting chord. The only reason it’s still standing is probably to screen the housing on Barnmead Road from the allotments on the other side. (For some reason, allotments always seem to smell vaguely of cabbage.)

  41. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t mean give a loop up to form a tram platform – I meant build an independent “station” alongside (a la Mitcham Junction), accessible from outside the station although a path may be necessary. Nice bit of history though stimarco. Network Rail still own a (very) small amount at the Birkbeck end. I have been through the up loop just once in the last year for regulation, and a few more times to loop round a turnback in platform 2. I don’t think I have ever been down the down loop!

    Going back briefly to the bus/tram/train discussion above, look at stop spacing in a typical zone 2-6 area: buses stop every 200-400m, trams every 400-800m and trains 800m to 1600m. Obviously I’m generalising a bit, but I think you can see what I mean. That is why I suggested the chord to Kent House – it’s too far to walk to connect (500m) but would take less than a minute on a tram. The multiple platforms could be reconfigured to give one or two centre turnbacks… hang on, we’re verging on an integrated transport system here…

    I don’t see the point in creating lots of platform loops for the sake of it, but I would suggest four tracking from Kent House to Penge East (inclusive) as you’d create a substantial loop that could allow some reliable timetabling. You may have to nudge Penge East station slightly west as there’s more land nearer the tunnel. While you’re at it, reopen the Penge West northern steps and make the interchange better. Suddenly a faster and practical Bromley to (typically West) Croydon route appears.

  42. timbeau says:

    yet another proposal:

    branching off the current Tramlink route at Morden Road, on street via Morden station and Hillcross Avenue (passing close to Morden South) , Hillcross Avenue (or the edge of Morden Park), Grand Drive and West Barnes Lane to Motspur Park, and then take over operation of the Chessington branch, with an extension over the completed but never-used track bed to Chalk Lane and Chessington World of Adventures.

    (The Chessington branch is very lightly loaded but the need to provide a service on it takes up valuable paths into Waterloo – despite having had the franchise ever since privatisiation started SWT have shown no enterprise whatsoever in extending the line over the unused trackbed* to CWOA, instead expecting visitors to trek the mile or so along the busy A243. Off-season there is scope for a park and ride facility – CWoA has a huge car park and is minutes from the M25.)

    * Built in 1938 as part of a proposed new route to Leatherhead, suspended because of the hostilities and then overtaken by green belt legislation.

  43. stimarco says:

    @Anonymous (11:50PM, 20-SEP-2012):

    My apologies; with all the discussions about the loops, I assumed the idea was to have Tramlink take over the Up Loop, Wimbledon-style. I didn’t think that was an option and the nature of the station building means it’s only possible to add new platforms at track level on the Down side as the subway linking the two islands is in the middle of the station building. (More info here: http://kentrail.org.uk/kent_house.htm ).

    @Greg Tingey:

    Love the 1946 photo of Elephant & Castle, but I can’t help noticing one rather important omission in that initial “starter” tram project: where’s the depot? I can’t see any obvious location for one.

    @timbeau:

    I believe the problem with continuing the extension to Leatherhead is Ashtead Common, which is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There was talk of tunnelling beneath it some years ago, but it’s a lot of work for a railway that passes through so much open countryside.

    Extending to CWOA is certainly technically feasible—I don’t think anyone would deny that—but it would mean building a new station barely a third of a mile away from Chessington South near Chalky Lane. If the line remains as heavy rail, I can only see that happening if Chessington South were to close. If it were to be converted to light rail, retaining both stations would be more viable.

    However, I think the original route via Ashtead Common is no longer viable for either light or heavy rail and it would be better to just continue to Leatherhead alongside the Leatherhead Road (A243), which has ample space for segregated track for most of the run down to the M25. (How you get trams past the M25 and into Leatherhead would be up to Leatherhead Council, but a heavy rail option could have a junction with the existing line just inside the M25.)

  44. timbeau says:

    Chalky Lane is over half a mile from Chessington South, about the same distance as between the two existing Chessington stations.

    As a result of the Green Belt I can’t imagine extension beyond Chalky Lane, or Malden Rushett at the most, would be worth while. And if the only traffic centre to be served is Leatherhead – does that really need a third route to London?

    The great thing about extension to CWoA is that the earthworks ae already there, albeit now covered with 75 years worth of vegetation.

  45. Anonymous says:

    CWoA car park has been used for some years at Christmas for a park & ride bus to Kingston, for shoppers

  46. Long Branch Mike says:

    What’s CWoA?

  47. Whiff says:

    CWoA is Chessington World of Adventures – though it was plain old Chessington Zoo in my day!

  48. timbeau says:

    Sorry – I did spell out Chessington World of Adventures the first time, but that’s several posts ago now. I can go back to using its pre-Zoo (i.e pre 1931) name of Burnt Stub if you prefer!

  49. Fandroid says:

    @timbeau

    taking over the Chessington Branch and extending it to the Zoo (CWoA) certainly has some great attractions, not least the freeing up of 2 paths per hour on the main line. However, I see that Motspur Park has 6tph through the day (peak & off-peak). Might there be a problem in abstracting 2tph (33% service reduction) out of that, especially in the peaks? I don’t know the area or the travelling pattern, so I’m just asking. Also, could the existing 4tph service along the Epsom line absorb the Chessington passengers interchanging at Motspur Park?

    As an interchange is needed at Motspur Park, that means that the trams would need to run alongside the heavy rail route from Motspur Park station to Motspur Park junction, where the Chessington line branches off. Is there room?

  50. timbeau says:

    I had assumed the extra 2tph would go to Epsom (much as I would like more trains on the Kingston line), so there could still be 6tph at Motspur.

    Many of the tram passengers might stay on to Morden, or even Wimbledon, rather than interchange at MP.

    And looking at Google Earth – yes there does seem to be plenty of room to squeeze in a tram route next to the heavy rail line.

  51. stimarco says:

    @Timbeau:

    My eyesight isn’t the greatest, and the old “hold a couple of fingers apart to cover the ‘scale’ and then slide them along the screen” technique is prone to inaccuracy.

    I suspect extending the heavy rail line to Chessington World of Adventures would be sensible, with a proper Park & Ride setup too, if possible. (The Green Belt rules might prevent that.)

    I’m not sure conversion to light rail is all that sensible. It’s a long way out. Maybe best to wait and see if development picks up pace in future and just make sure nothing that would be needed for such conversion gets built over in the meantime. We don’t have to build extensions to everywhere right away. We have time.

    *

    Re. Croydon > Bromley:

    Why the insistence on extending from Beckenham Junction? It’d be much easier to extend from the New Addington branch and enter Bromley via Hayes. There’s plenty of room along the A2022 (and a short stretch of the A232 before diving up Prestons Road and cutting through a field to reach Hayes station).

    A triangular junction on the Addington Road where the line up to New Addington curves off would allow access to both Bromley and Croydon town centres from that station, while the other edge of the triangle gives direct Bromley-Croydon runs.

    Reaching Hayes station adds a relatively short kink to the line. Getting from there to Bromley can be done with hardly any on-street running as this is right on the edge of the Green Belt: you can just skirt around almost all the housing, but not so far that you can’t have a few stations on the way.

    Mason’s Hill has a surprising amount of potential for widening—even full segregation in many places. The top of the High Street / Market Square is already pedestrianised too, so that’s not an issue, and the trams can loop around Elmfield Road like the buses do to reach that bit, rather than running straight up.

    You’ll need split the tracks along the one-way system to reach Tweedy Road and Bromley North, should it be desirable to take over that branch line to Grove Park, but, overall, it seems a much better option than trying to link Bromley with Croydon via Beckenham as you’d open up a lot more very useful connections, and it’s harder to justify adding the Bromley North branch if you also want to serve Bromley South from Beckenham as you’d end up with two termini rather than just one.

    The more open, low-density nature of the via-Hayes route also means you can get away with fewer stops for long stretches, greatly reducing journey times compared to the via-Beckenham option, which is hardly a direct, or quick, route. This could also make it easier to justify extending from New Addington to Biggin Hill later.

  52. Anonymous says:

    @stimarco
    Interesting idea – you would effectively be upgrading the 314 bus which currently counts as a feeder route to the tram (you only get charged once for using the bus and tram on oyster). The roads are not that congested either (in Hayes anyway)

    At Norman park you could add a bigger carpark to create a Bromley park and ride as well.

  53. StephenC says:

    @stimarco, you beat me to it… Bromley via Hayes from a triangular junction at Addington looks appealing to me to, as much because it provides New Addington with another link. I suspect that an upgrade to the A212 section by Gravel Hill may be needed to reduce level crossings though.

    re Chessington South, while it is an annoying branch, it seems difficult to get those commuters to face a 10 minute increase in their journey times. Besides, Worcester Park is the local centre around there and a tram from Chessington might make more sense going there for interchange. I’d also point out that Motspur Park has a level crossing, which makes changes around there more tricky.

    re the loop, I came to the conclusion that running Blackfriars to Wimbledon was best, with tram from Wimbledon to Sutton, at least as a first stage. The western loop would hugely benefit from higher tph and more frequent stops, as befits the population density and street layouts, such as Toynbee Road, Cannon Hill Lane, Links Avenue, Central Road (close Morden South), Forest Road, etc. Its mostly continuous semis and short terraces around there.

  54. timbeau says:

    The level crossing at Motspur Park shouldn’t be a probelm – on the contrary the fact that the road and rail formations are at the same level makes the transition easier to arrange. And surely tramways can cross heavy rail – the trams are simply subject to the same rules as other road vehicles.

    Agreed that Worcester Park might make a better traffic objective – a largely on-street route via Green Lane and Manor Drive would achieve that.

    What I would also like to see is a branch from Tolworth to Kingston – ideally via Ewell Road, Brighton Road Claremont Road, and Penrhy Road to take in the local main line railhead at Surbiton. A route via Berrylands would be easier to engineer but have a much smaller catchment. Extending to Ham – a district remarkably remote from any rail transport – would be very straightforward, although the narrowness of the A307 might make further extension to Richmond impossible.

  55. Greg Tingey says:

    Timbeau
    Re Tram “heavy” rail crossing.
    Try looking at Portmadoc & the WHR ex-Cambrian crossing.
    Perfectly easily do-able.

    Like the idea of extending from the New Addington branch to Bromley North (& Grove Park) via Hayes.
    Much easier to do!

  56. Anonymous says:

    What impact would the acquisition of new trams to fulfil aspirations of a more frequent service on existing routes, let alone Crystal Palace or Bromley have on Therapia Lane depot. Can it be extended or would a second depot need to be built? If I recall an earlier London Reconnections article into the planned extension of the Bakerloo to Hayes in the 70s met with opposition from locals not wanting a tube depot on their doorstep.

  57. James Bunting says:

    There have been a number of further suggestion about route extensions to Bromley and elsewhere. However, without wishing to be a party pooper, before we all get carried away with joining up the dots on a map there needs to be some thought about a viable network. In addition, as Anonymous @ 1055 mentions above, there is also the little matter of depots.

    As this discussion has progressed the suggestions for the network have made it extend from Leatherhead to Grove Park. This is 30 km as the crow flies and considerably further as the tram would go. How sustainable and robust would such a network be? Where, apart from Therapia Lane, would it be supported from? How would they fit in with the existing network, especially with regard to Croydon Town Centre?

    Stimarco @ 1941 has suggested a Bromley extension via Addington. Apart from questioning some of his statements about route suitability I would suggest a major network planning issue emerges. The current route to Addington has 8tph. Adding a Bromley extension either adds a significant number of extra trams over a large part of that line or requires a reduction of service south of Addington Village to accommodate it. How does he balance these two? Do we have more trams operating over a long section for which there is no extra traffic or do we take away half of the existing service to provide a new one?

    Another consideration is what effect would extending the network have on existing public transport? Introducing a new set of journey options may well have the effect of reducing or removing others. This happened when bus services to the South East and East of Croydon were reduced after Tramlink opened. New extensions would have the same effect. These reductions were along routes that had common points with Tramlink. However, the routings between the points were not always the same, resulting in a withdrawal of service to people who would not be using Tramlink as an alternative.

  58. ChrisMitch says:

    I spotted a new tram in the platform at Wimbledon station this morning at about 0845 – so they are running the new larger trams over the whole Wimbledon line – makes sense if they have a larger capacity.

  59. wimbledonpete says:

    As a Raynes Park commuter the Chessington trains are useful in the peaks, certainly, as they provide a couple of more lightly loaded trains to take up the slack between Motspur Park and Waterloo – by Earlsfield they get rammed like all the other trains on the route.

  60. James GB says:

    The new / old ticket hall at Crystal Palace opened today. This will enable the demolition of the ’80s lean-to structure, making room for the tram extension. The new/old ticket hall is a lot more user friendly and attractive than the lean-to. I would question the provision of just 5 ticket gates but you can’t have everything, and there is room for 20 gates if they felt like it. The contractors have used the spare space on one side to exhibit about 8-9 pictures of the station at various stages of it’s life, which is a nice touch.

  61. stimarco says:

    @James Bunting:

    “Stimarco @ 1941 has suggested a Bromley extension via Addington. Apart from questioning some of his statements about route suitability I would suggest a major network planning issue emerges.”

    I’m very familiar with the areas involved—I even went to a school (now closed) just off the A2022. I also double-checked the entire route using StreetView and Google Earth (which does a better job of showing terrain than their normal “Google Maps” app). From an engineering perspective, the via-Hayes option is a much, much better one than the via-Beckenham one that keeps being trotted out.

    Yes, like any extension, there would be an impact on the network, but grade-separation of the ‘delta’ junction in the vicinity of New Addington is certainly feasible, and unlikely to annoy the locals given the other structures around there. That alone would enable higher service frequencies than would be the case with a flat triangle junction. A new depot could also be built around this area too.

    However, the crucial point about building extensions to other major market towns like Bromley and Sutton is that Croydon ceases to be the network’s sole focus, and that’s the key, I think.

    Just as the DLR is no longer just about serving Canary Wharf and its environs—some services don’t go anywhere near it now!—so an expanded South London Tramlink would cease to be solely about getting people to and from Croydon’s shopping centre.

    A future extension from Bromley to, say, Lewisham, along the A21 (which is mostly dual carriageway between Lewisham and Downham) would not impact Croydon services because the trams wouldn’t go to Croydon. (Lewisham – Croydon journeys would be quicker via the Hayes line anyway.)

    If Tramlink is to become a true network, rather than a one-trick pony, it must take this step and consider additional foci. It’s never a good idea to keep all your eggs in one basket, and Bromley, Sutton, Wimbledon, etc. are all just as deserving of better orbital links and journeys as Croydon.

  62. MiaM says:

    Re “the Wimbledon issue”:

    If Tramlink would be diverted to not use a NR platform, then the track bed from atleast the crossing with Dundonald Rd or possible Kinston Rd up to the NR tracks would be free for other usages. How about swapping place with the tram tracks and (most of) the road traffic?

    The neighbours to todays track are already used to the noise tams make, would road traffic be an issue?

    How about for example converting the track bed from Kingston Rd and westwards and build a road bridge over the NR tracks and connect to for example Francis Grove / St. Georges Rd? It could take most of the traffic that today runs on Wimbledon Bridge. Perhaps todays traffic between Queens Rd and Wibledon Bridge could be a problem, but that traffic could probably go either via B235 or Trinity Rd – Mortague Rd – A238 – the new road on tramlinks trackbed.

    Tramlink could then use for example Rutlish Rd – Gladstone Road – A219/The Broadway and Wimbledon Bridge. The roads that Tramlink would use could probably more or less be closed to road traffic.

    Anyone in Wimbledon would probably be familiar with how good Tramlink and a car free central shopping area in Croydon is. Hopefully they could picture a future Wimbledon in the same way (except smaller as Wimbledons central shopping area seems smaller).

    Once Tramlink reachers Wimbledon Bridge it could perhaps for examle continue to the famous Wimbledon sports fields?

    NR could probably pay a bit of this, effectively buying out Tramlink from platform 10. Wimbledon and the other local counciles that Tramlink is on could perhaps also pay a bit of this (especially Wimbledon).

  63. Fandroid says:

    October’s Modern Railways includes an article on the South West Trains Alliance. It’s mostly concerned with plans to increase the number of peak trains into Waterloo. As that is based on a fifth mainline track from Surbiton, the potential bottleneck that is Wimbledon is eased by reclaiming the Tramlink platform and creating a new one outside. The accompanying track diagram only shows a single tram platform, but no doubt TfL could get a double one from the project if they dibbed in a bit of cash. Off-topic, but of interest, is that the slow lines platforms at Waterloo are to be lengthened by widening the bridge over Westminster Bridge road, not by extending over the concourse.

  64. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Yes, Fandroid, I noticed that too.

    None of this is new except for the proposal to widen Westminster Bridge Road but the fact it gets repeated in Modern Railways suggests that it is still current thinking. It does bother me that TfL seem to have one agenda and NR a totally different one.

    Is the plan to spend £15 million to add an extra tram platform at Wimbledon only for it to be abandoned a few years later ? Do TfL doubt that the “fifth track” plan will happen ? Or maybe they believe that the timescales involved mean a new tram platform for one or two decades use can be justified ? – but that still gets us no nearer “the final solution”. Are Merton council involved or are they just standing back ?

    Then again how does the fifth track fit in with one of the Crossrail 2 options to tunnel from central London to Raynes Park or something similar ? Sometimes you get into a horrible situation where a small decision locally cannot be made because of a much bigger project that may or may not happen. A second entrance (“double-ending”) to Euston Square station has been proposed since the 1980′s but is now waiting upon HS2 and the rebuilding of Euston. I fear we may get into the same situation at Wimbledon or alternatively that a relatively lot of money will be spent on a short-term benefit.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Do the new trams include passenger bells? I’ve never seen passengers use this facility on the main fleet to request a stop and never known a tram to pass through a tram stop.

  66. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Theoretically all tram stops are request stops. Therefore the new trams have buttons to press to indicate that the next stop is wanted just like the buses and original Croydon trams. In practice during the day it is highly unlikely that no-one wants to either get on or get off at a stop so even if the button is not pressed you can be reasonably confident that the driver will stop anyway even if no one has pressed the button and there appears to be no-one at the stop. Having said that people do tend to press it just to be sure.

    Catch a tram late at night and it is quite different. Typically there will be an announcement before leaving, say Elmers End, reminding you that all trams stops are request stops. And if there is no-one at the stop and you want to get off it really is important to press that button.

  67. evergreenlondon says:

    In the morning peak is the busiest flow on the Tramlink Wimbledon branch towards Wimbledon or towards Croydon or are both directions as crowded as each other?

  68. JamesGB says:

    It’s a bit off topic, but yesterday I was at Crystal Palace when two trains came in at once. Some people had to wait 3-4 minutes to get through the 3 exit barriers. I think we can just about accept this in locations that have no room to expand the gate line, but the new CP has acres of space to fit more gates. It just isn’t on, TfL.

  69. Ian Sergeant says:

    My two pennyworth on five tracks into Waterloo at http://crooked-cottage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/five-tracks-into-waterloo.html for those who are interested. Too long to write here as a reply.

  70. evergreenlondon says:

    Bump post up.

    How is Crystal Palace coping now?

  71. James GB says:

    Crystal Palace has been coping reasonably well in my experience so far, the problem only rears it’s head in the evening rush when two trains arrive from central London at the same time. I think this should have been predicted and more gates installed: it’s only likely to get worse as London’s population increases.

    The station staff do seem to have started adjusting the flow of the gates so it’s 3 out + 1 in + 1 disabled in the evening peak, which is an improvement on the situation above, which was 2 + 2 +1.

    Part of the issue here is the layout, everything is slightly squashed in at the south end then there is a big empty space at the north end of the ticket hall. You are often crossing other people’s walking routes. Further, the location of the ticket machines means that the queues for them can cross the gate lines or the route to the coffee shop.

    There is no doubt that the new ticket hall is a vast improvement on the old. It just feels like it wasn’t that well planned.

  72. Anonymous says:

    TfL announces four more trams, double tracking key sections between Croydon and Wimbledon and platform works at Wimbledon.

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/media/newscentre/26396.aspx

  73. Phil says:

    Boris “forgets” the Tramlink extenstion to Crystal Palace again in his TFL 10 year business plan – even though he promised it in his election manifesto.

    He has even had two separate visits to Croydon to be pictured with Trams with “Crystal Palace” on the front of them.

    http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/Crystal-Palace-Tramlink-extension-backed-Boris/story-17523965-detail/story.html

  74. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Boris doesn’t forget the Crystal Palace extension in his business plan. It is one of the very few projects that gets a mention but as the link makes clear he did not include it for funding. It is frustrating as it has all-party support. I think Boris must have been a bit stung by how much Conservative support there was for the project when he originally cancelled it.

    I have to say it is about the only issue on which I cannot understand why he takes the position he does – professing to support it but seemingly doing nothing to actually help it. That is not to say I agree with all of his decisions but for ones that I don’t I can usually at least understand why he made them and, as far as I am aware, he doesn’t tend to say one thing and do another.

    As far as I am aware we still don’t have a decent costing for the scheme. If we at least had that then the is always the remote chance that Gideon will pick on it as a “shovel-ready” project which would help boost the economy. This is however unlikely as the benefits of the scheme are ones of social benefit and mobility rather than business development or large-scale regeneration.

    We hope to be covering the details of the business plan shortly so maybe any further comments, if there are any, could wait until then.

  75. Philip Wylie says:

    As a resident of Beckenham, I think quick access to Clapham Junction is of reasonable importance. Outside the peaks, very few people seem to travel Beckenham Junction to Crystal Palace and if there were to be a double-track tram track
    into BJ combined with an upper level interchange with the Overground at Brixton and increased frequencies, Bromley to Croydon via tram, changing from heavy rail at BJ and Bromley/Beckenham to Clapham Junction via Brixton would be a breeze and no timetable to consult.

    Accessing CJ via CP is ponderous in the extreme with poor connections at West Norwood for same platform interchange.
    Also, the Southern Metro services are so slow, or maybe it’s geography and pinch points.

  76. Steven Taylor says:

    @Philip Wylie

    I often use the line Crystal Palace / Clapham Junction. I am afraid the `geography` of the line, with much severe curvature, makes the journey slow, apart from Balham to Clapham Junction. I am not sure however, that if a high-level station was built for the Overground at Brixton, that travelling up to Brixton from Beckenham Junction on a stopping service then changing for the Overground would be any quicker to Clapham Junction. For example, the line from Wandsworth Road (Ludgate Line) has a 25mph speed limit between WR and Clapham Junction.

    However, slightly off-topic, an interchange station at Brixton for the high-level Atlantic Lines (Overground) would be very useful and would surely result in a busy interchange.

    The high cost (£80 million?) is surely the stumbling block. Also, there would usually be funded study to determine usage (although the accuracy of these studies has hisrorically been poor) before any detailed plans were drawn up.

    With Surrey Canal Road station taking so long to be built (long story) – possible 2015 opening, I regret I do not think I will live long enough to see the station built.

  77. Phil says:

    I have made further enquires regarding the proposed Crystal Palace extension and have been told that negotiations with the local councils for funding are ongoing and that a decision should be made in the spring.

  78. Steven Taylor says:

    It would be excellent news if it is built. Notwithstanding an existing `heavy rail` link, I would imagine this would be a popular link.

  79. Stephen Spark says:

    I’ve come very late to this discussion but was interested to see the suggestions for extending Tramlink to Chessington. Postwar, the owner of the zoo was negotiating with the Southern Railway and later BR(S) to have the line extended from Chessington South to the zoo, but while it wasn’t rejected outright, the scheme didn’t go ahead. I suspect that was because it would have left the still-new Chessington South station with very little traffic. It may not be far, but it’s a a dreary, uncomfortable walk from South to the World of Adventures, and seems twice as far on the return when you have a tired child in tow.

    There was a postwar scheme to relocate large areas of bombed-out east London – essentially most of the workforce of the London Docks – to Chessington, which, as may be imagined, provoked fierce opposition from the local council, which had no desire to pay for all the necessary schools, drains (which seem to be problematic in this area) etc. It didn’t really make sense to have to ship thousands of dockworkers from Chessington and Malden Rushett to the East End. Nevertheless, despite the imposition of the Green Belt, there was a proposal for a new town at Malden Rushett as late as the 1970s.

    I don’t think the SSSI need be an insurmountable problem to extending beyond Malden Rushett to Leatherhead, because the route could just as easily be moved adjacent to the Kingston Road. Why it won’t happen is the reason that the scheme was put on hold in the first place: the lack of traffic potential in the absence of housing development or the reasonable likelihood of any in the future.

    However, there have been plans in the past few years for a Kingston-Chessington-Malden Rushett-Epsom tram line that would make use of the partly built embankment south of Chessington South station as far as Malden Rushett, from where it would turn south-eastwards to serve the housing that has been built on the old mental hospitals site at Horton, and from there to Epsom town centre. Along with almost every other scheme involving this tract of land (including extension of the Northern Line through Lower Morden to Malden Manor and thence to Chessington), the plan seems to have faded away.

    And that is why, instead of an airport (another grand project that never came to fruition) and a massive sprawl of drab semis served by SWT or the Northern Line or trams, we still have a patchwork of fields and woodland that is essentially unchanged from Victorian times. In development and transport terms Chessington South is the final frontier: beyond it, you drop off the edge of the world!

  80. castlebar says:

    Is that why the Greater London Are boundary extends so far south at Malden Rushett?

  81. Slugabed says:

    Castlebar 5:46 21/04
    It’s rather because the old Surbiton Council area was a peculiar shape,and was included in its entirety into the new Kingston Borough in 1965.

  82. Anonymous says:

    Looking at the shape – why did Biggin Hill, Coulsdon and Chessington end up in London Boroughs but Caterham/Warlingham, Banstead and Epsom and Ewell stay in Surrey. I would have put Caterham and Warlingham with Purley and Coulsdon and Banstead in a London Borough of Surrey Hills and then a London Borough of Epsom and Sutton, adding Wallington to Croydon to match up sizes.

  83. Lew Finnis says:

    It was simply the political decisions taken when the GLC was created as to which local authorities ended up as London Boroughs and which didn’t. In fact some parts of the rural fringes were removed and made into parishes in neighbouring LAs, Cudham being an example if my memory is right. The old Orpington Urban District included a huge rural area, the rest of which ended up in the London Borough of Bromley but the south-eastern fringe was excluded.

  84. Slugabed says:

    ….and I believe some councils (Epsom and Ewell spring to mind) fought a vociferous and ultimately successful campaign NOT to be included in the GLC Area.

  85. Anonymous says:

    A Sutton Tramlink extension is more likely than Crystal Palace, says a Sutton council official.

    http://www.streathamguardian.co.uk/news/10417508.Sutton_in__pole_position__to_get_tram_extension_ahead_of_Crystal_Palace/

  86. Anonymous says:

    What are the loadings like into Wimbledon in the morning peak? Is it currently possible to board a Wimbledon bound tram at Morden Road or other tram stops further towards Wimbledon?

  87. Littlejohn says:

    Tramlink has ordered another four Variobahn trams, to enter service from 2015. More here: http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/london-tramlink-orders-more-stadler-trams.html.

  88. Greg Tingey says:

    Slugabed
    Now bitterly resented by all inhabitants of Epsom & Ewell who are over 62, I don’t doubt!

    OFF TOPIC
    But interesting ….
    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view/independently-powered-emu-to-be-tested.html
    Too late for GOBLIN (We hope)

  89. Castlebar says:

    @ Slugabed & Greg T

    Yes, you are right. “The Dittons”, so very close to Kingston town centre voted themselves out, being given the choice.

    Now, because they did so, they resent that their houses are worth up to £50,000 less and even so less readily saleable than ones in Hampton, much further out, all because of the travel passes that Hampton residents still qualify for..

  90. Castlebar says:

    All this reminds reminds me of a restaurant appraisal I once read. It simply said, > >

    “Geographically, this new restaurant is situated between Elmers End and Pratts Bottom.
    Gastronomically. it’s about the same”

  91. timbeau says:

    Resurrecting an old thread here, but I was contemplating the Tramlink arrangements in Beckenham and wondered why the arrangment was chosen with two termini, each getting half the service. Granted Elmers End and Beckenham Junction are both useful traffic objectives, but it should hav ebeen possible to extend the Elmers End branch along Elmers End Road to Birkbeck station and join the Beckenham Junction route there. This would have used less track than the existing route through South Norwood Country Park. Even if Harrington Road had to be included, a route across the park from Elmers End to Harrington Road would have been possible.
    I can only imagine that it was decided that the Beckenham Junction branch for some reason wouldn’t be able to cope with the full service (the single track section from Birkbeck, maybe?)

  92. Stuart says:

    @timbeau

    I would think that the single track stretch put them off directing the entire line to Beckenham Junction, but I think there is also a cemetery along the western side of Elmers End Road which may not have appreciated excavation. I doubt London Borough of Bromley supported on-street running to the extent that LB Croydon did – there is no on-street running in LBB. Add to that the perception that part of the Beckenham route was to replace the Addiscombe branch of the Hayes Line, then I guess it seemed a good idea at the time

  93. timbeau says:

    Surely it was the Elmers End branch of Tramlink which replaced the Elmers End – Addiscombe branch?

  94. Anon5 says:

    Southeastern has launched a new app. The live departures page includes Tramlink departures at Beckenham Junction which is helpful but most destinations and stops are replaced with unhelpful C-prefixed numbers. I wonder if this is another example of the lack integration of Tramlink systems with TfL? Tramlink service updates aren’t included on the homepage of the TfL website, and not at all on the mobile version. The beta version looks more promising. BBC London TV’s breakfast updates “pull” information from TfL and Tramlink is noticeably absent from the graphic despite there being space for it among the tube lines, DLR and Overground.

  95. stimarco says:

    @Anon5:

    The Tramlink network was originally built entirely independently of TfL’s control, so their computer systems probably store their data in a form that TfL’s systems weren’t designed to work with directly. What you’re seeing is the raw data being extracted from Tramlink’s computer systems and not being ‘translated’ appropriately into a human-readable label.

    Computers use numbers for everything. Even this website. The real name for this website, as far as your computer is concerned, is: http://54.229.73.248. That set of four numbers is called an “IP Address” and is the Internet’s equivalent of a phone number: Your computer has to search through a Domain Name Server (<abbr title="A DNS is just a glorified telephone directory that links each human-readable domain name to its actual server address. Every Internet Service Provider maintains at least one of these, and what you're paying for when you 'buy' a domain is an entry in all the world's Domain Name Servers for your domain, linking it to your server's 'IP Address’, which is that set of four numbers separated by dots you can see in that link. (The ‘http://’ part merely tells the computer what kind of data to expect from the server.)”>DNS) first to find out what the IP Address of the “www.londonreconnections.com” server is. Once it has found the right IP Address for the server, it can finally contact and ask it for the information you want to view.

    Most databases therefore have similar translation or mapping components that allow the software accessing it to connect the raw ID numbers with nice, legible names.

    Back on-topic: Tramlink probably haven’t provided the relevant conversion tables that map those numbers to stop names, (or more likely, someone simply failed to specify this during the design phase, unaware such a conversion process would be necessary).

    It’s also possible that Tramlink’s computer systems may be scheduled for upgrades / replacement to make them more compatible with TfL’s own systems in the near future, in which case there’s not much point paying for (and maintaining*) code that will be redundant shortly. Though I have no idea if that’s actually the case.

    * (It’s easy to forget that software often has to be updated to run on newer systems. Whenever a new version of Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, GNU / Linux, etc. is released, programmers have to update their own programs accordingly. All this takes time and, therefore, money.)

  96. stimarco says:

    Buggeration! Cocked up the tags again.

    @JB (or anyone with suitable privileges), can you fix it?

    Also:

    “What do we want?”
    “An ‘Edit’ feature! Even a time-limited one!”
    “When do we want it?”
    “As soon as it’s convenient!”

  97. Long Branch Mike says:

    @Stimarco

    I find most online editors, including my Yahoo email’s, only good for the briefest of posts, so I draft my text in Word then copy it over to paste in the editor. That way you could check the tag functionality in the LR preview window, could you not?

  98. Greg Tingey says:

    LBM
    Unfortunately “word” royally screws-up intelligent links in HTML, resulting in much anguish, especially to do with “smart” & “dumb” quote-marks.
    So an apparently-good link will fail when posted.

  99. Anonymous says:

    Last night’s Tramlink twitter Q&A with tram managers included the following:

    [Timescale for live tram stop departures showing on the TfL website] We are currently updating our systems, so realtime information will be available in the summer #askTrams

    [the newer trams] If you are out and about tomorrow it is likely that you will see some new Trams line 3 #askTrams

    We have ordered additional trams that will arrive early in 2016 which will help to alleviate the over crowding

    The new trams are air conditioned and we are looking at improving existing trams but changes will take some time #askTrams

    [Will BBC London take a live Tramlink status feed during BBC Breakfast?] once the upgrade is complete they will be able to take the feed like all the other TfL services #askTrams

    In 2016 line 4 will be extended to Wimbledon, we have started the infrastructure works, and new trams are on order #askTrams

    [On bringing bisons on to trams] They are allowed but only if they have a horn! #askTrams

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