Transport correspondent JEREMY CLACKSON on how the regional transport authority has been caught out by reports on this website, and has been forced to consult over its tram proposals
Transport for London has been forced to postpone its proposed changes to the tram service between New Addington and Wimbledon, as Inside Croydon reported on Monday.
TfL wanted to introduce the new service on November 5, which would have ended a direct tram from New Addington travelling to stops beyond East Croydon to Wimbledon.
But by this weekend, they had still not managed to produce a timetable for the new service.
Inside Croydon broke the news of the TfL proposals earlier this month. It was just as well that we did: TfL had “forgotten” to tell anyone about their changes.
The reduction in service – because that is what it amounts to – is designed to “reduce bunching” of trams at the busiest times of day, something caused by the introduction in the past few months of speed limits on stretched of track as a safety precaution following the tragedy of the Sandilands derailment last November in which seven passengers died.
But the changes were to be foisted on to the network without any consultation with passengers or the local councils affected.
Last night, TfL confirmed the postponement, as Inside Croydon had reported this week. No new timetable has yet been made available for the revised service.
In a statement issued to Inside Croydon, TfL claims that they have paused the implementation of the tram changes after having written to “a wide group of people about these changes”.
Further, they state, “TfL has written to all relevant MPs, AMs, local authorities, ward councillors, user groups like London TravelWatch, key accessibility groups and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) about the timetable changes.”
But Inside Croydon has contacted ward councillors with tram stops in three separate Croydon wards. Not one of them has yet been written to directly by the regional transport authority about the tram changes.
A source at City Hall said today that they expect that TfL may be issuing its letters this week.
Stuart King, the Croydon Council cabinet member responsible for transport, has failed to respond to Inside Croydon’s request for a comment on the situation and how it might affect tram passengers using the New Addington line.
In the statement confirming Inside Croydon’s report, a TfL spokesperson, said: “We regularly review our timetables to ensure we are delivering the best service possible to our customers. The planned changes will significantly improve reliability and reduce crowding and customer waiting times.
“We wrote to a wide group of people about these changes. Having carefully considered the feedback we received, we have decided to temporarily pause the changes while we consider further engagement.”
There is little doubt that, after a suitable pause for a lip-service “consultation”, TfL will go ahead with the changes to the service which it has decided upon. But TfL sources suggest that the delay in implementing the changes has been forced because of a fear of any legal complaints over the failure to consult widely.
And TfL has already modified some of its proposed changes.
TfL claims that their changes, “would mean some customers on the New Addington branch would need to change in Croydon to continue to Wimbledon – but our data shows this would only affect 3 per cent of customers. Departures from New Addington will continue to be every 7-8 minutes”.
“The idea that only 3 per cent of passengers from New Addington use the tram to travel through East Croydon to, say, Ikea on Purley Way, seems a bit of an under-estimate,” one City Hall source stated. “Once the changes come in, most passengers from New Addington will face at least one change of tram if they want to go beyond East Croydon.”
In its statement to Inside Croydon, TfL has included one important concession to its original plans, saying, “Early morning shift workers have been taken into consideration and the first two departures would continue to run directly from New Addington to the Wandle Valley area and Wimbledon.” How night workers might get home when travelling in the opposite direction has yet to be addressed.
TfL also explained, “There would be slightly fewer services than today at Elmers End (trams every 10 minutes rather than every 7-8 minutes) but passengers at that stop would benefit from more even-interval services, and trams would extended to Wimbledon throughout most of the day. This change affects only 4 per cent of tram journeys.”
But John Jefkins, the local Liberal Democrat Party activist who has made a careful study of the tram service, disputes this. “Changes that cut 25 per cent of trams reaching the important rail interchange at Elmers End – that is taking two trams per hour being cut from the current eight trams per hour service – are not trivial, as TfL try to suggest with their 4 per cent figure.
“For the busy route through Addiscombe to Croydon (Arena to West Croydon) the cut from 14 trams per hour to 12 trams per hour is a 14 per cent cut in service on what their Trams 2030 report said was the busiest of their three branch lines.
“It affects one-third of the tram network.
“Passenger numbers are expected to carry on rising. The decision needs to be made to swap the £28million potentially wasted money on the unnecessary Dingwall loop for a policy of longer trams, longer platforms and a maintenance building extension to cope.”
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