This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 01/11/2018.
Latest plans to extend the Croydon tram network to Sutton revealed
TfL says the plans to improve transport links between Sutton and Merton could support 10,000 new homes.
Transport for London (TfL) has revealed highly-anticipated plans, including its final three route options, to expand south London’s tram network into Sutton.
TfL is exploring how to build a new, direct and quicker transport link between Sutton and Merton.
The project, called Sutton Link, aims to make it easier to travel between the two boroughs, while also improving links into central London.
TfL has also said the plans will improve access to jobs and services from less connected parts of both areas, and support the delivery of around 10,000 new homes.
Three options are being considered that would link Sutton town centre to either Wimbledon, South Wimbledon or Colliers Wood.
As well as these options, TfL are considering linking the boroughs by tram or by bus rapid transit (BRT), which is similar to a tram but runs on road segregated from traffic where possible, not on rails, and carries fewer people in each vehicle.
It is believed the Sutton Link could be open by 2025. A consultation on the proposals was opened on Wednesday (October 31), and TfL are encouraging members of the public to share their views.
In 2014, “strong public support” was shown during an initial public consultation on the plans in Merton and Sutton.
What does Sutton Link aim to do?
According to TfL, the project will drastically improve the transport links between Sutton and Merton, and the rest of London.
They say Sutton Link will;
- Open up transport options for communities that could include St Helier, Rosehill and north Sutton, which are not presently served by high-capacity public transport
- Create or improve connections to other centres, which could include Wimbledon, South Wimbledon or Colliers Wood, with links to London Underground and National Rail services
- Make it much easier to travel by public transport to key locations along the route, which could include several schools, the open spaces of Rosehill Park and Morden Hall Park, St Helier Hospital, and potentially the London Cancer Hub being planned for Belmont, via a future extension which would be enabled by the Sutton Link
- Make the roads safer and more attractive for people walking, cycling and using public transport
- Support the development of Sutton town centre, which is planned to create up to 5,000 homes and 2,000 new jobs by 2031, along with better public spaces and environments for walking and cycling
- Support plans for Morden town centre, which aim to make it much more attractive for locals, workers and visitors to enjoy and to provide up to 1,800 new homes in the centre
The three potential routes
TfL has been looking in detail at options for the best way to improve transport links between Sutton and Merton for the past five years.
More than 180 options have been considered and narrowed down to three routes for consultation. Two of the potential routes would run on-street, with the third mainly replacing an existing rail line.
A spokesman for TfL said: “Based on the work carried out so far, we consider that either option 1 or option 2 best achieves the aims of the project. Option 3 is least effective at achieving the aims of the project by improving public transport in Merton and Sutton.
“It would also need to be closely coordinated with the proposed Crossrail 2 station in Wimbledon to minimise disruption to Wimbledon town centre. This may result in delaying the delivery of the Sutton Link project by several years to coincide with the Crossrail 2 construction programme.”
What would happen if the tram line was extended?
Use of the tram is suitable for all three options on the consultation.
The network is already a reliable and fully accessible service through central Croydon to Wimbledon in the west and Beckenham Junction, Elmers End and New Addington in the east.
An extension of the network to Sutton would be operated to the same standards as the existing network, TfL has said.
New trams would be purchased if the line was to be extended, and additional depot facilities would be built for the new vehicles.
What is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?
BRT, which is suitable for options 1 and 2 only, can take many different forms, with a range of potential vehicles, passenger facilities and guidance systems.
The possible BRT for the Sutton Link would essentially be a tram on rubber tyres, with vehicles very different from the types currently used on London Bus roites.
TfL say it will be a “modern, high quality system” with the same level of separation from other traffic as a tram. Specially engineered BRT running lanes would be constructed.
This is said to enable similarly fast journey times and overall capacity of service as a tram extension. Like trams, the BRT proposed for the Sutton Link would have platforms at stops to provide step-free access and stops would be further apart than standard bus stops.
Like if the tram line as extended, a new depot facility would be needed to keep and maintain the new BRT vehicles.
What’s different between using a tram and BRT?
Each tram would be longer and would carry around 220 people, compared to about 120 on a BRT vehicle
Trams would arrive around every eight minutes in peak service, whereas the BRT would need to run more frequently at potentially every five minutes, because each vehicle can carry fewer passengers
BRT is expected to have a greater negative impact on traffic congestion because of the more frequent services
Trams would run on rails with overhead electric lines. BRT would run on a road surface, needing less fixed infrastructure
BRT may have less impact on utilities buried underground, reducing costs and disruption during construction
A BRT scheme could open sooner and may be easier to extend in the future, TfL says.
Constructing a tram route is more expensive initially, but the operating cost over the long term could be lower as fewer vehicles and drivers would be needed.
For full details about the consultation, including ways to respond and details of the drop in events, visit tfl.gov.uk/Sutton-link.
The consultation runs until January 6.