Boris’s TfL goes all loopy for Westfield over tram extension

Another day, another public “consultation”, this time brought to us by Transport for London, and about the Croydon trams.

Trams 2No, don’t get too excited: Boris hasn’t suddenly found a few mill down the side of his sofa to pay for the extension to Crystal Palace that he has promised to do three times (and three times broken that promise). This is about a loop that goes no where very far, but just lays tram tracks down Dingwall Road from George Street and East Croydon Station.

It represents the first significant addition to the Tramlink network, though, since it opened in 2000.

Inside Croydon asked TfL about this Dingwall Road loop in February. They never replied.

Developers Stanhope, who are building on the Ruskin Square site next to the proposed tram loop and who own buildings on the other side of Dingwall Road which will be affected by the development and may possibly be subject to CPOs, told Inside Croydon as recently as three months ago that although they were aware of  a tram line extension proposal, no one from TfL had offered to explain the scheme or consult them directly.

Stanhope have given up land on their site so that Network Rail might build extra platforms for East Croydon Station to cope with increased passenger demand, which the tram loop also anticipates.

Finally, TfL has laid its cards on the table about the tram plans.

TfL’s public “consultation” on the tram loop lasts less than a fortnight at its own Tramlink Shop on George Street, although it will run until November 28 at Croydon Central Library. The consultation closes on December 14, with TfL expecting to put forward an application for the works in 2015. So the loop will be built, it is just which option is adopted that the public might influence. TfL openly favours Option 1.

Transport experts suggest that the loop will help reduce congestion on the tram network around central Croydon, though the principal rationale is to provide a better service to the Hammersfield supermall. The exit from the Bridge to Nowhere (Lansdowne Walk) will also be better served with a dedicated tram stop.

“The design for all options will need to incorporate cycling provision,” TfL’s paper states, and then provides three schemes which show absolutely no cycling provision whatsoever. Plus ca change, eh?

TfL says, “We are proposing to build a new tram loop near East Croydon station to accommodate the Croydon Partnership Development on the old Whitgift Centre site.” Ahhh, the “old Whitgift Centre site”. How charmingly put.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, pictured with the non-existent Crystal Palace tram service (as featured on the website of Gavin Barwell MP)

London Mayor Boris Johnson, pictured with the non-existent Crystal Palace tram service (as featured on the website of Gavin Barwell MP)

Notice, too, how public money can be found to build an extension to satisfy Tory party supporters Westfield and their shopping centre, but not to fulfil the Tory Mayor of London’s election promises for the extension to Crystal Palace?

Anyway, TfL continues: “Tramlink currently operates in a one-way loop along George Street, Church Street, Tamworth Road and Wellesley Road. We are looking at three new loop options that could be constructed in the New Town part of Croydon. We would welcome your views on both the principle of an extension and on which of the three options you prefer.

“Croydon is undergoing one of the largest town centre regeneration projects in London. These improvements will contribute to the growth in demand on Tramlink services. We predict that by 2031 the number of passengers will have nearly doubled. Building a new loop allows us to continue to run a reliable service and provides more network capacity. It would also allow more Tramlink services to operate between Croydon and the eastern branches in the future,” they say.

“… We are working with Croydon Council, the GLA and local stakeholders to help
transform Croydon into a thriving retail and leisure destination. Increasing the
capacity of Tramlink with a new loop is integral to this.”

This is how TfL presents the options…

Option 1 – Anticlockwise

Tram extension Option 1“A lower impact to the existing highway and pedestrians than Options 2 and 3.

“A lower impact than Option 3 to utilities, land requirements, the environment and taxi and car usage.” Might this mean that the current mess that is the taxi rank out of East Croydon Station could be moved or improved to avert the regular delays now encountered?

Importantly, TfL notes of Option 1: “It is the preferred location of the tram stop to serve the Croydon Partnership Development.” So Westfield have had prior sight and approval of these options.

Option 2 – Clockwise

Tram extension Option 2

TfL notes: “Option 2 has a more complex junction on Wellesley Road than Option 1…” Ooo, “complex”. That’s rarely good, “… with greater impact to the existing highway and pedestrians; particularly with the proposed pedestrian crossing.

“Running the tram/bus lane contraflow on Wellesley Road along with other road
users is more challenging than the anticlockwise scheme proposed in Option 1.” Oooo, again. “More challenging”, that’ll not be good, either.

Again, TfL’s real priorities are displayed in this note: “It is the preferred location of the tram stop to serve the Croydon Partnership Development for westbound passengers from Wimbledon and Therapia Lane, who will no longer use Wellesley Road stop.”

This paper reads evermore like a Hobson’s Choice, as TfL makes the case against the options it doesn’t want to implement.

Option 3

Tram extension Option 3

TfL says: “It would connect Tramlink to new passengers on Dingwall Road (North) and
Sydenham Road who currently have longer to walk if they want to catch a tram.

“It is the longest of the routes and thus has the greatest impact on: third parties and stakeholders, landowners, the environment.”

It’s also fair to say that by moving the new tram stop further away from the Lansdowne Walk exit from East Croydon Station, it also makes the least sense for commuter use. Or, as TfL put it, “The proposed stop location is not idea [sic] for serving the new retail development.” And Westfield, after all, is what this is really all about.

TfL further notes that, “Any changes to existing bus services, either during construction or the operation on a new tram service would be subject to further consultation.”

They also state: “Option 1 is emerging as our preferred option as it appears to meet the requirements of the project with the least impacts.”

 


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", Boris Johnson, Commuting, East Croydon, Environment, Fairfield, Jo Negrini, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Planning, Ruskin Square, Tramlink, Transport, Whitgift Centre and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Boris’s TfL goes all loopy for Westfield over tram extension

  1. Mary Wolf says:

    In the £billions landscape of all this, how does this proposal relate to the ‘discussions’ a while back about Westfield/The Croydon Partnership contributing to meeting the cost of traffic easing measures around Fiveways/Purley Way? Or has all that been sorted?

    Like

  2. Boris really need to get TFL to sort out their problem.

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  3. mandycelt says:

    It seems this scheme intends to only benefit the Hammersfield development when we already have an existing tram stop at Wellesley Road and the walk from East Croydon is less than five minutes. This money would be better spent increasing capacity (as this is the stated aim of the consultation) by providing new carriages and increasing the frequency of the services. Public money has already been promised for the tram to be extended to Crystal Palace and this surely should take priority.

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  4. Bearing in mind the position of Jury’s Inn and a minimum track radius of 25m I wonder if it will be possible to make the left turn out of Lansdowne Road as shown in Option 1. The right turn in as shown in Option 2 might also be tight. Perhaps someone might get them to confirm this.

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  5. I don’t see the point of the smaller loops unless it is to stack up trams, a siding where they can wait with E. Croydon as their destination. People can walk can’t they from the new EC Lansdowne Rd bridge exit to the proposed Westfield? It’s not exactly far. Better to do something bolder. Link to Crystal Palace or better still Bromley. 3rd option also goes to essentially nowhere. Nowhere for communters to park to join, but more useful for local residents.

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    • Nick Davies says:

      Operationally that’s the whole point, so that trams from the east can terminate at East Croydon and return without too much shunting around, and also to create an alternative if the existing town centre loop is disrupted.

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      • baw30s says:

        I wonder if indeed the point is to create an alternative loop, or to divert the existing loop so that routes 1 and 2 no longer serve George Street, Church Street, Centrale, and West Croydon. I have read the consultation booklet quite carefully, and this a possible interpretation. Furthermore, I have written to the TfL consultation email address asking for clarification and have received no reply. I have also called at the Tramlink shop where the above maps are on display and was told that no Tramlink staff know any more about the proposals.
        I think we need to be very concerned that this is not an extension, but a reduction in the size of the system which could hit the Surrey Street market and Old Town areas badly, as well as impairing access to West Croydon station and the Overground, the library, St George’s Walk and the David Lean Cinema for users of those routes.

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  6. Pingback: Can Trams Turn A Corner In Croydon? - Amble Scope

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