The changes proposed by Transport for London and Croydon Council to the trams in the town centre, mainly for the benefit of the £1 billion Hammersfield supermall, won’t just split the Tramlink into two separate networks. The engineering changes could cause traffic chaos as never seen before, even in central Croydon at Christmas time, since they will also ensure more delays for pedestrians and car users – the very people that the £48 million transport spend is intended to benefit.
That’s the view of David Wickens, who was a senior member of the engineering department at Croydon Council when Tramlink was conceived and introduced.
Wickens has contacted Inside Croydon this week in response to our report about the outcome of the TfL “consultation” (aka imposition of a pre-ordained scheme).
“I have previously commented that I had doubts about the ability of trams to make the tight left turn out of Lansdowne Road into Wellesley Road,” Wickens said.
“The plans show this being achieved by making Lansdowne Road one-way west and using the offside for trams, thus giving a gentler turn. This creates a problem for cars and road traffic using Lansdowne Road, Walpole Road etc, should they wish to head north or east.
“This is because they will have to leave via the west end of Lansdowne Road, head south through the underpass and then left along Barclay Road and beyond.
“I cannot find any mention of that in the latest consultation and it will be a major inconvenience for them as well as adding to traffic in the East Croydon area,” Wickens said.
Wickens is also questioning of the proposals as they affect pedestrian crossings of what even TfL regards as the “urban motorway” that is Wellesley Road. He believes that the closing of the 1960s pedestrian subways could further compromise the running of trams.
“I understand that it is proposed to close pedestrian subways under Wellesley Road and replace them with ‘at grade’ crossings,” Wickens said.
“There are several good reasons for this but such crossings do cause delay to road traffic and trams. The artist’s impressions I have seen do not have a central reservation for pedestrians; if these were provided then that would reduce road space for cars, buses etc.
“Thus we are likely to have crossings more than 20 metres in length that require a time in excess of 25 seconds to allow people to cross safely. That is bound to have a significant effect on traffic if the crossings are going to respond quickly to pedestrians pressing the buttons.
“Unless tram frequency is reduced, then there is insufficient time for both pedestrians and trams,” Wickens said.
“The outcome would be queuing trams or footways packed with pedestrians waiting to cross. These loop ideas are a way of resolving the issue but obviously prejudice passengers wanting to travel through Croydon.”
Whichever way you look at it, this is not a scheme intended to improve the tram service. Those likely to be affected by the compromised services along the line, at Beckenham Junction, Wimbledon and Mitcham, do not seem to have been consulted at all. Our elected representatives, such as Croydon Central Tory MP Gavin Barwell, remain silent on the matter. Make your own mind up on the reason for such acquiescence.
The TfL proposals appear to have serious short-comings for all road users. And we appear to be on track to spend £48 million, mostly of public money, on a scheme demanded by commercial developers, which will undermine Tramlink, one of the few public services in Croydon which actually works well. And it has the full backing of Croydon’s Labour-run council.
Yet another example of Dis-Connected Croydon.
- For more on how the Westfield and Hammerson redevelopment of the largely Whitgift Foundation-owned Whitgift Centre is progressing, click here
- Inside Croydon Events: for dates and links to what’s happening in and around Croydon, updated daily, click here
Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014.
- Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 729,297 page views in 2014.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org