Have you ever wondered what the Croydon Tram network might look like if the Crystal Palace extension, or the much-talked-about Sutton line, had ever been built?
Loyal reader Anthony Norris-Watson certainly, and he put together something which Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson could only ever dream about, or bungle.
Norris-Watson has taken every suggested route addition, extension and feasibility study, even the doomed Dingwall loop, and through the magic of software managed to produce a schematic map of the tram network that looks as if it could have come straight out of TfL headquarters.
It’s a piece of work of which Harry Beck would be proud.
“The Croydon tram is now 20 years old and has had many proposed extensions to it in its lifetime,” Norris-Watson told Inside Croydon.
“I dug through and put together this map if everything had come up over the years and actually been built.”
The mapping shows the tram network linking up with the Tube not only at Wimbledon’s District Line terminus, but also the Northern Line at Colliers Wood.
There’s a link to the Victoria Line, too, as it imagines an extension running all the way from Coulsdon, along the Purley Way and on past Mayday Hospital, Thornton Heath, and through somewhere called “Streatham High Street” (which probably ought to be “High Road“), going as far as Brixton.
On this map, Wimbledon is no longer the end of the line for the tram going westwards, either, as it shows how passengers might have been able to travel as far as the River Thames at Kingston.
There are other proposed extensions, too, heading eastwards from New Addington to Biggin Hill Airport, there’s the four-times-promised Crystal Palace extension, and even a line to Catford and Lewisham, and to Bromley.
It’s a veritable version of Fantasy Trams.
It is a considerable piece of research work, as Norris-Watson has also pieced together where the likely stops would have been placed. There might be some variation from versions of proposals: the Sutton link, which was still being considered until TfL ran out of money, had one suggested route that linked to the Northern Line at Morden, rather than Colliers Wood, for example
The Bromley, Lewisham, Biggin Hill and Kingston extensions all went to feasibility studies, but no further.
Perhaps Norris-Watson’s map should be shown to councillors from across south London, Assembly Members, government ministers and officials from Transport for London, to shame them over the missed opportunities for a light-rail network which potentially could take thousands of cars off our roads every day.
The Crystal Palace extension had been fully designed and funded while Livingstone was still in charge at City Hall, but hit the buffers in 2008 when it was binned by the incoming Tory Mayor, who instead preferred to “spaff” hundreds of millions of public money on the Dangleway, the badly designed Boris Bus and a Garden Bridge that served neither as a garden, nor a bridge, and was never even built.
Three times in elections, for City Hall and General Elections, Boris Johnson campaigned promising a tram line to Crystal Palace, never once delivering on his promise. With TfL now financially over-committed to Crossrail, the chances of the Sutton link appear remote, at best.
For the Croydon Trams, the 2010s appears very much a wasted decade.
Norris-Watson’s map is so broad-ranging, literally, it is impossible to do it justice laid out on the narrow website page… though the complete version is available below. Click on it to see it in all its glory.
And think what might have been.
- Last month, we ran a competition for Inside Croydon subscribers to win a copy of the definitive history of the Croydon Trams. The correct answers to our questions were (1) 10 May 2000 (the day the network officially opened); (2) Nicholas Owen (the “voice” of Tramlink); and (3) Addington Village (alphabetically, the first stop on the tram network). A copy of Gareth David’s excellent book is now on the bookshelves of our winner, David White.
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