JEREMY CLACKSON, our transport correspondent, on how TfL is pushing through timetable changes for New Addington trams, just as they had wanted to four months ago
Transport for London will tomorrow announce significant timetable changes to the tram network which will, for most of each day, make it impossible in future to travel from New Addington to Wimbledon without changing trams.
The changes to be announced are remarkably close to what was originally proposed in October. TfL was forced to pause the implementation of the changes then because they hadn’t bothered to consult the travelling public or local authorities.
Having paid lip-service to a consultation, TfL will now go ahead with the changes they’d always wanted. The timetable changes will be introduced from February 25.
TfL claims that since it was forced to consult, they have established a webpage with detailed information explaining the implications for each branch and details of drop-in sessions, and emailed 48,000 regular tram users, and printed 5,000 leaflets.
The proposed changes are in an effort to reduce “bunching” of trams on parts of the network, something which has become an issue since the Sandilands tram crash in November 2016, as trams speeds are now more closely restricted.
In an internal memo at City Hall, a TfL official claimed, “Overall, customers understood and were supportive of the rationale for our proposals and could see the benefits. The majority of the concerns about the timetable changes came from customers in New Addington.”
According to the memo, the New Addington passengers are unhappy “about needing to change trams in central Croydon to travel onwards towards Wimbledon”. Other complaints came from “Early morning shift workers who need to get to the industrial areas around Ampere Way and who might have a long wait between trams”.
They also highlighted, “Dissatisfaction with current overcrowding and uneven tram services they experienced.”
TfL maintains that their timetable changes will provide “a better and more reliable service overall with fewer delays and less crowding. Because trams will be more evenly spaced, average waiting times for trams will fall”.
As a result of the public consultation, the first two trams of the morning service from New Addington will run through to Wimbledon. There will also be more frequent early morning services (departures every 10 minutes rather than every 15 minutes between 6am and 6.30am).
Otherwise, the service from New Addington will go round the Croydon loop. “The new service means there will usually only be a two- to four-minute wait to change trams, and the onward tram will depart from the same platform,” TfL says.
“Customers for the Wimbledon branch are advised to change at Church Street (rather than Sandilands) for a less crowded onward journey with relatively similar seat availability.
“Eastbound customers for the New Addington branch are advised to change at Centrale for the least crowded onward journey and best seat availability.”
Passengers forced to change trams will, at least, not be forced to pay an extra fare: with the new Hopper fare, passengers using pay as you go can now make unlimited bus and tram journeys within one hour.
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