TfL’s tram scheme will benefit Westfield, but not passengers

Alerted by a report on Inside Croydon, BERNARD WINCHESTER’s research into Transport for London’s proposal for a new Tramlink loop has some troubling conclusions

Tramlink tram at East CroydonDo you catch the tram from Harrington Road or Beckenham to West Croydon or Surrey Street market?

If you do, make the most of it, because soon your journey could become much more difficult judging by Transport for London’s latest proposals.

The significance of these plans is that the central Croydon tram loop will no longer be used. Instead, trams will be turned back at East Croydon via a new small loop, euphemistically called “an extension” by TfL.

At present, all four tram routes serve George Street, Church Street, Centrale and West Croydon. After the new loop is completed, trams on loop routes 1 and 2 from Elmers End and Beckenham Junction, about half the total, will no longer use these stops. Instead, they will stop at Lansdowne Road or, if the less favoured third option is chosen, at Sydenham Road, to serve the £1 billion Hammersfield supermall, the redeveloped Whitgift Centre proposed by the Croydon Partnership that is formed by Westfield and Hammerson.

Passengers on trams from Beckenham Junction, calling at Beckenham Road, Avenue Road, Birkbeck and Harrington Road, will be hardest hit, as they will lose their direct link to the new rail, Overground and bus interchange at West Croydon. They will instead have to change twice, at Sandilands and Wandle Park, to get there.

Of course, not only passengers will suffer. Impaired tram access could be a body blow to the ancient and vulnerable Surrey Street market. Central library, St George’s Walk and the David Lean Cinema could all be expected to lose footfall.

How Transport for London wants to reconfigure its central Croydon tram services

How Transport for London wants to reconfigure its central Croydon tram services

TfL believes that the new loop is necessary “to accommodate the Croydon Partnership development on the old Whitgift Centre site” and to cope with an expected near doubling of tram passengers by 2031.

Perhaps some changes will be needed: we shall see. In the meantime, Inside Croydon’s loyal reader may be reluctant to see access to Westfield favoured over access to the rest of Croydon town centre.

TfL’s consultation document is disingenuous in not stating clearly what the impact of the new loop will be, and in presenting the three equally unsatisfactory options as the only available choices. One phrase, however (“we would welcome your views on … the principle of an extension”) indicates that the consultation does offer an opportunity to resist this re-routing.

If you don’t want your journey from Harrington Road or Beckenham to West Croydon to take twice as long and require three trams instead of one, perhaps you should write in.

You can see in full the options for the Dingwall Road loop and state your views on-line at:
tfl.gov.uk/dingwall-road-loop .

Paper copies of the plans are available at the Tramlink shop in George Street and at Croydon Central Library. Project staff will be available at the library to answer questions on Monday November 17, from 3pm to 7pm and on Saturday November 22, from 1pm to 5pm.

The consultation closes on December 14.


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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
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6 Responses to TfL’s tram scheme will benefit Westfield, but not passengers

  1. “TfL’s consultation document is disingenuous in not stating clearly what the impact of the new loop will be”.

    I’m not sure whether it is down to disingenuity (conspiracy) or a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing (cock up), but Transport for London have overlooked the fact that Dingwall Road is currently part of its London Cycle Network, and has been designated to form part of its new system of Quietways, one of four such routes planned for the borough. This particular scheme will enable people to cycle in relative comfort, ease and safety from Croydon to Waterloo (and from there, into the centre of London and beyond).

    The only reference to cycling on the consultation web page is that “the design for all options will need to incorporate cycling provision”. What this might entail remains a mystery at the moment.

    Croydon Cycling Campaign will therefore be pressing for any work to meet TfL’s new London Cycling Design Standards and to not compromise the planned Quietway. And, in the light of the coroner’s report on the death of Roger de Klerk, when his bike slipped on the tram rails at East Croydon, we’ll be pressing them and the Council to make sure this development is made as safe as it can be.

  2. On the face of it, Transport for London is cutting off its nose to spite its face and disadvantaging the Croydon Partnership simultaneously.
    I’m assuming there are many tram passengers travelling from Beckenham Junction or Elmers End into Croydon who want to go further than East Croydon, but TfL has the travel data, I don’t.
    Also George Street, Centrale, West Croydon and Wellesley Road are the closest tram stops to the new development, but the TfL proposal is apparently to provide a lesser service to these four stops in return for the dubious advantage of a stop in Dingwall Road.
    The elephant in the room is the dualling of the Croydon loop, possibly with a new spur running along North End between Crown Hill and Station Road: more expensive certainly, but infinitely more cost-effective.
    You would then have the capacity to add proper park and ride facilities east and west of the town centre to reduce pressure on the road network. Maybe that’s too ambitious, even for Boris Johnson, or maybe his Greater London planners need to get out more.

    • What “pressure on the road network”?

      Data available from http://www.uktrafficdata.info/cp/croydon-a212-fairfield-28766 shows that Wellesley Road, in the period 2000-2012, has benefited from an overall reduction in motor traffic of over 20%. For cars alone, that decrease is almost 30%.

      We could take advantage of that huge drop by making space for cycling. The ultimate in “park and ride facilities” would be parking your car at home and choosing instead to ride
      your bike into Croydon along fast, easy, direct and safe routes.

      Not just idle fantasy – a realistic opportunity.

      A 2010 report commissioned by the Council found that Croydon was one of the top five Outer London boroughs for potential cycleable trips – see bit.ly/CroydonBikingBoro The London Travel Demand Survey showed that some of the greatest numbers of potentially new cycleable trips (journeys less than 5 miles in length and currently undertaken by car or public transport) in outer London are in Croydon.

      In 2013, the Council put in a detailed bid for a big slice of Boris’s “mini-Holland” funding cake. While this wasn’t successful, there isn’t any reason why the plans detailed in that document – bit.ly/GRG7Gt – can’t be delivered by alternative funding means. Section 106 funding from the multitude of developments planned for Croydon, using money through the Local Implementation Plan for transport and viring cash from the public health budget (cycling boosts both physical and mental health and helps cut air pollution) are potential sources.

      Come on Croydon council, give people the freedom to choose bike.

  3. Dualling of the central loop would be hugely expensive and would probably need the whole loop to be dug up for a considerable period. In some places there would not be room for manholes etc to give access to sewers and other services under the road. It was probably discounted when the system was originally designed, but I cannot recall. The spur up North End was considered but discounted.

    As mentioned before Option 1 may have issues regarding track geometry due to Jury’s Inn. Would TfL buy it and knock it down if there is?

  4. Ken Towl says:

    This is very worrying. It looks like a great way to spend a lot of money to reduce service levels. Presumably the cost will be used later as a justification for an increase in fares – or will Westfield pay for this, since they are the only beneficiaries?

  5. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    Money talks!

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