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Tramlink (originally and sometimes still called Croydon Tramlink) is a tramway system in south London in the United Kingdom which began operation in May 2000. The service is operated by London Tramlink,[1] part of Transport for London (TfL).

Tramlink serves seven National Rail stations but has only one interchange with the London Underground (at Wimbledon station to the District Line); one of the factors leading to its creation was that the area around Croydon has no Underground service.

Tramlink runs on a mixture of street track shared with other traffic, dedicated track in public roads, and off-street track consisting of new rights-of-way, former railway lines, and one section of alignment, though not track, shared with a third rail electrified Network Rail line.



In 1990 Croydon Council with the then London Regional Transport (LRT) put the project to Parliament and the Croydon Tramlink Act 1994 resulted which gave LRT the legal power to build and run Tramlink.[2]

In 1996 Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) won a 99 year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract to design, build, operate and maintain the Tramlink system. Under this contract Tramtrack Croydon Ltd kept the revenue generated by Tramlink and LRT had to pay compensation to TCL for any changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced later.[3]

TCL subcontracted the operation of the tram system to CentreWest Buses, now part of First London. TCL was a partnership comprising First Group, Bombardier Transportation (the builders of the system's tramcars), Sir Robert McAlpine and Amey Construction Ltd (who built the system), and Royal Bank of Scotland and 3i (who arranged the finances).

Former lines re-used[]

There are three routes on the tram link, detailed in a later section: Route 1 - Elmers End to Croydon; Route 2 - Beckenham Junction to Croydon; and Route 3 - New Addington to Wimbledon.

Route 2 runs parallel to the Crystal Palace to Beckenham Junction line of the Southern network between Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction, the National Rail track had been singled some years earlier.[4]

From Elmers End to Woodside route 1, and also route 2 from Arena, take part of the former British Rail branch line to Addiscombe then diverges to reach Addiscombe tram stop which is 500 metres west of the now demolished railway station. At Woodside, the old station buildings still stand disused, and the original platforms have been replaced by accessible low platforms.

From Woodside to near Sandilands (routes 1 & 2) and from near Sandilands almost to Lloyd Park (route 3) Tramlink follows the former Woodside and South Croydon Railway, including the Park Hill (or Sandilands) tunnels.

The section of Route 3 between Wimbledon and West Croydon follows the old single-track British Rail route for the most part, which was closed on 31 May 1997 so that it could be converted for Tramlink.[5] Within this section, from near Phipps Bridge to near Reeves Corner, route 3 follows the Surrey Iron Railway. This gives Tramlink a claim to the world's oldest aligned trackbed. A partial obstruction of the route near this point has necessitated the use of gauntlet track.

A Victorian footbridge beside Waddon New Road was dismantled to make way for the flyover[6] that takes Tramlink over the West Croydon to Sutton railway line. The footbridge has been re-erected at Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway.

Buyout by Transport for London[]

In March 2008 TfL announced that it had reached agreement to buy Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) for £98m. The purchase was finalised on 28 June 2008.[7] The background to this purchase relates to the requirement that TfL (who took over from London Regional Transport in 2000) compensates TCL for the consequences of any changes to the fares and ticketing policy introduced since 1996. In 2007 that payment was £4m, with an annual increase in rate.[3]

In October 2008 TfL introduced a new colour scheme to the vehicles, using the blue, white and green of the routes' symbol on TfL maps, to distinguish the trams from its buses operating in the area.

Current system[]


The tram stops have low platforms, 35cm above rail level. Stops are un-staffed and have automated ticket machines for ticket sales. In general, access between the platforms involves crossing the tracks by pedestrian level crossing. There are 39 tram stops, most being 32.2 metres long. They are virtually level with the doors and are all wider than 2 metres. This allows for wheelchairs, prams, pushchairs and the elderly to board the tram easily with no steps. In street sections, the pavement is integrated with the tram stop.

Tramlink uses some former main-line stations on the Wimbledon–West Croydon and Elmers End–Coombe Road stretches of line that were taken over. The railway platforms have been demolished and rebuilt to Tramlink specifications, except at Elmers End and Wimbledon where the track level was raised to meet the higher platforms, to enable cross-platform interchange.

Thirty eight stops opened as part of the phased introduction of tram services in May 2000. Centrale tram stop in Tamworth Road opened on 10 December 2005, increasing journey times slightly. As turnround times are already quite tight this raised the issue of buying an extra tram to maintain punctuality. Partly for this reason, but also to take into account the planned restructuring of services (subsequently introduced in July 2006), TfL had issued tenders for a new tram. However, nothing resulted from this.

All stops have disabled access, raised paving, CCTV, a Passenger Help Point, a Passenger Information Display (PID), litter bins, a ticket machine, a noticeboard and lamp-posts, and most also have seats and a shelter.

The PIDs display the destination and expected arrival times of the next two trams. They can also display any message the controllers want to display, such as information on delays or even direct instructions to vandals to stop placing objects on the track.


Tramlink is not shown on the standard tube map, but is shown on the "London Connections" map. The original route structure was Line 1 Wimbledon to Elmers End, Line 2 Croydon to Beckenham Junction, and Line 3 Croydon to New Addington.[8] On 23 July 2006 the route network was restructured, with route 1 from Elmers End to Croydon and route 2 from Beckenham Junction to Croydon, running every 10 minutes Monday - Saturday daytime, every 30 minutes at other times, and route 3 from New Addington to Wimbledon every 7.5 minutes Monday - Saturday daytime, every 15 minutes at other times.

Since being taken over by TfL all routes have a maximum service interval of fifteen minutes service during all operational hours.

Route 1 (lime)[]

Main article: Tramlink route 1
Route 1

Then to East Croydon and back as Route 2 to Beckenham Junction 

Route 2 (lime)[]

Main article: Tramlink route 2
Route 2

Then to East Croydon and back as Route 1 to Elmers End 

Route 3 (green)[]

Main article: Tramlink route 3
Route 3

Then back to Wandle Park

Then to East Croydon and back to New Addington 

Change in Route Colours[]

When Transport for London took over operation and ownership a new network map was designed, combining Routes 1 and 2 as one service, coloured "Trams Green" (lime). (Originally, Line 1 was coloured yellow, Line 2 was red, and Line 3 was a darker (District line) green.[8]) However, the distinction is still made in practice, as trams from Elmers End on Route 1 change their numbers in central Croydon to Route 2 (Beckenham Junction) and do the reverse when working in the other direction.

Fares and ticketing[]

As part of the TfL network, all TfL Bus Passes are valid on Tramlink - as are Travelcards that include any of zones 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Cash fares and pay-as-you-go Oyster Card fares are the same as on London Buses, although special fares may apply when using Tramlink feeder buses.

When using Oyster Cards, passengers must touch in on the platform before boarding the tram. Special arrangements apply at Wimbledon station, where the Tramlink stop is located within the National Rail and London Underground station.

Rolling stock[]

Tramlink is operated with articulated low floor Flexity Swift CR4000 trams built by Bombardier Transportation in Vienna. As of 2009, the Tramlink fleet is 24 strong, with four more trams planned. To avoid the extra costs of a short production run, Tramlink is seeking to lease these from Edinburgh Trams, where the construction of new track and depot is facing long delays, but the rolling stock is due for delivery from early in 2010. The Edinburgh Tram will be manufactured by CAF of Spain.[9] To accommodate the extra capacity, some sections of single-track line may be doubled.

The trams are numbered beginning at 2530, continuing from the highest-numbered tram, number 2529 on London's former tram network, which closed in 1952.

All trams have now been refurbished, including a repaint into a new livery.

Future Developments[]

Projected extensions[]

The Mayor's Transport Strategy for London states that extensions to the Tramlink network could be developed at relatively modest cost where there is potential demand from existing and new development to support concentrated passenger movements, and where Tramlink technology might be cost effective. Proposal 4D7 says that "The Mayor will explore the potential for extending the Tramlink network where doing so could help meet the objectives of the Transport Strategy cost effectively"[10] and sought initial views on the viability of a number of extensions by summer 2002.

An initial review of potential Tramlink extensions has been prepared and discussed with interested parties. TfL now wishes to carry out initial development and evaluation work on the following routes:

Extension Route
Sutton Town Centre/Station - Wimbledon Through St Helier, Morden and Morden Road (including via St. Helier Hospital and direct routes and routing variants within Sutton Town Centre)
Sutton – Tooting Through St Helier and Mitcham (including routing variants via Mitcham Junction and direct)
Mitcham Junction – Mitcham town centre Through Mitcham Common
Central Croydon - Coulsdon Through Purley/Purley Station and could involve a Park and Ride scheme
Central Croydon - Brixton Through Thornton Heath, Norbury, Streatham and Streatham Hill as well as past Mayday Hospital
Harrington Road/Beckenham Junction – Crystal Palace Various route options including (below)

Other extension proposals include Lewisham, Bromley town centre, Biggin Hill Airport/Village and a local spur/loop to penetrate further into Purley Way retail/industrial park.

Starting in the west, there are two corridors that suggest bringing Tramlink to Sutton town centre. The first of these, proposing operations principally between Wimbledon and Sutton, has been in view even before Tramlink opened. Indeed, presumptuously, the trams were delivered with destination displays for this as “line 4” already included on blind sets.

Extension D / Route 4[]

Route 4 (proposed)

Then back to Penge Road

Then to East Croydon and back to Beckenham Junction or Crystal Palace

Tramlink route 4, was the only extension being formally developed. The proposed route linked Harrington Road stop with Crystal Palace, and Crystal Palace directly with Beckenham Junction, both terminating at Crystal Palace Parade. There were three options on how to get to the Parade: on-street, off-street and a mixture of the two.[11] Following recent consultation the off-street option is favoured, with trams running along existing railway as far as Crystal Palace Station, and then running round the western edge of Crystal Palace Park (within the current park's perimeter) to the bus terminus near the parade. TfL have currently stated that due to lack of funding the plans for this extension will not be taken forward,[12] but also say that they are committed to including new proposals for extensions to the tram as part of a future bid to Government.

Extension A[]

The Sutton to Wimbledon proposal utilises the existing Tramlink infrastructure between Wimbledon and Morden Road stop. The cramped tram terminus inside Wimbledon station is barely adequate for its present function. If another service is to arrive at Wimbledon a new terminus will need to be created. Diverging from the present Croydon route the Sutton line might adopt segregated alignment within the highway along Morden Road, serving Morden station interchange. It would probably use Aberconway Road to reach Morden Hall Road before using the spacious St Helier Avenue as the direct route to St Helier, Rose Hill. St Helier Hospital is an important local traffic objective that Tramlink ought to serve, despite the need to deviate from the direct route into Sutton via Angel Hill. A number of variants in Sutton Town centre are to be examined to see how the shopping centre, station and office complex can be accessed. The alignment is presently served by a number of busy bus services and if built, would give Tramlink patrons direct interchange with the Northern Line at Morden. A south-to-east curve may also be considered at Morden Road to permit direct operations that link St Helier to Mitcham and Croydon.[13]

Extension B[]

The other Sutton proposal – to Tooting - is more ambitious and undoubtedly contains many more challenges than Sutton/Wimbledon link. Apart from workshop/depot facilities and a curve required to link the line into the existing system, this extension would share no infrastructure with the existing Tramlink. Were “line 4” to be realised ahead of this proposal, the Tooting line would of course then have the St Helier to Sutton section in common. North of St Helier, the alignment is likely to fit across parkland and open space to take in the Willow Lane Industrial Estate before serving Mitcham town centre. Some commonality would be enjoyed here with the short separate proposal to provide a spur from Mitcham Junction to Mitcham town centre. From here, the Tooting projection would seek to use the pedestrianised town centre section before sharing carriageway with all traffic in the part of London Road south of Figge’s Marsh, with room for segregation beyond the junction with Streatham Road. The most difficult leg arises immediately the Merton/Wandsworth boundary is crossed and the most effective way of reaching Tooting Broadway from this point will stir much debate.

North and south from Croydon[]

To the north and south of Croydon are some busy bus corridors, which themselves derive from earlier tram routes. These include the Purley – Croydon – Streatham corridor, which is proposed for conversion to tram operation.[14][15]

To the south of Croydon, the proposal is for the new route to diverge from the existing central Croydon loop and use a highway alignment, probably using South End and Brighton Road, to Purley. Beyond Purley, an extension to Coulsdon will be investigated. As this would be close to the M23 motorway, a possibility would be the construction of a park and ride site. However, finding a good alignment will be more difficult south of Purley, where Brighton Road carries the heavy traffic of the A23 trunk road.[15]

To the north of Croydon, it is again proposed to use a highway alignment based on London Road. To the south of Thornton Heath Pond, the use of a shared carriageway is a possibility. North of this point, the road becomes the A23 again, but there are likely to be some opportunities for trambaan type segregation to Norbury and between Norbury and Streatham, although Norbury itself is a pinch point. The proposal is to terminate the line at Streatham railway station, providing an interchange to the extended East London Line.[15]

Other extensions[]

Work currently commissioned will also check out proposals to extend Tramlink to Biggin Hill, Bromley town centre, Lewisham, and Purley Way. If initial examination shows promise, further work could follow to firm up more detailed routings for these proposals.

Accidents and incidents[]

  • On 7 September 2008 a bus operating on route 468 was involved in a collision with tram 2534 in George Street, Croydon. One person was killed in the accident. A BMW car was also involved in the accident. The victim was thought to have been a pedestrian waiting to cross the road,[16] but it later transpired that he was in fact a passenger thrown through the upper front window of the bus. The driver of the bus was later convicted of death by dangerous driving.[17]

Tramlink Rationalisation[]

Phase Implementation date Service Service changes
1 11 May 2000 T31 New service from New Addington to Addington Village.
T32 New service from Addington to Parkway Tram slip road.
X30 Withdrawn.
13 May 2000 TL1 Godstone allocation moved to Orpington allocation.
2 21 May 2000 130 MS evenings and Sunday withdrawn. Certain early morning and late evening journeys off N159 from New Addington to West Croydon.
353 Withdrawn between Addington and Croydon, and downgraded to single deck operation.
354 Withdrawn, replaced by T31, T33 and 353.
359 Rerouted at Selsdon and extended from Forestdale to New Addington.
464 Sunday service introduced.
466 Diverted at Addiscombe Road to Addington Tramlink.
T33 New service from Addington Village to West Croydon.
3 31 May 2000 TL1 Withdrawn.


The onboard announcements in a male voice are made by BBC news reader (and tram enthusiast) Nicholas Owen. [18]


  1. Transport for London -London Tramlink. (2000-05-30). Retrieved on 2010-05-09.
  2. Croydon Tramlink Act (1994).
  3. 3.0 3.1 TfL announces plans to take over Tramlink services. Transport for London. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-18.
  4. Map of current system using existing and former British rail lines. This is Local London. Retrieved on 2007-11-16.
  5. "{{{title}}}" (2002). Railway Magazine 148. IPC Media. 
  6. Flyover 1. Retrieved on 2010-05-09.
  7. Statement of Accounts for the Year Ending 31 March 2008. Transport for London (2008-06-25). Retrieved on 2008-06-27.
  8. Preparation and Procurement...Tram Vehicles. Edinburgh Trams: The story so far. Transport Initiatives Edinburgh. Retrieved on 2009-09-10.
  9. London Dockland and Croydon Tramlink Extensions
  10. Crystal Palace extension options to reach the Parade PDF
  11. Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace
  12. Proposals to extend the Tramlink system Always Touch Out
  13. South London Trams - Transport for Everyone - The case for extensions to Tramlink (PDF). South London Partnership. Retrieved on 2008-09-02.
  14. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Tramlink Extensions. Croydon Tramlink - The Unofficial Site. Retrieved on 2008-09-02.
  15. Man dies after horrific bus and tram pile-up. Mail Online. Retrieved on 2008-09-08.
  16. Bus driver charged over Croydon death crash with tram. Retrieved on 2009-12-09.
  17. Tramlink celebrates its seventh birthday. Retrieved on 2009-02-03.

See also[]

External links[]