The Anonymous Widower

Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Croydon?

The Croydon Tramlink has been around since 2000 and doesn’t get mentioned very often with respect to either expansion or tram-trains.

Tramlink Route 1

The Tramlink Route 1 to Elmers End, does not give much scope for tram-trains as Elmers End is the only station with a rail connection, other than East and West Croydon.

That is unless you wanted to run tram-trains up the Hayes Line to perhaps Lewisham or even Cannon Street.

These pictures show how the tram interfaces to the rail line at Elmers End.

It would appear to my untutored eye, that trams might be able to connect northwards, but southwards looks difficult. This is probably confirmed by this Google Earth image of the station.

Elmers End Station

Elmers End Station

If Route 1 was run by tram-trains, that continued after Elmers End, this would not cause any problem at the Croydon end, as they’d just go round the loop and back to the east.

So it looks like there is little scope to put tram-trains on Route 1 and then run them up and down the Hayes branch.

Tramlink Route 2

The Tramlink Route 2 to Beckenham Junction actually runs alongside the electrified railway between that station and Birkbeck. If that line had been built in France or Germany in the last few years, I think they would have used tram-trains to provide the service.

It is in the area of Birkbeck station, shown here in a Google Earth image that tram-trains could be used to advantage.

Birkbeck To Crystal Palace

Birkbeck To Crystal Palace

Note the red arrow pointing out Birkbeck station, the orange lines denoting the East London Line and the green line denoting Tramlink Route 2.

The Crystal Palace Line and Tramlink Route 2 are both single-track lines from west of Birkbeck most of the way to Beckenham Junction, with the railway carrying just two trains an hour each way.

It has been a long-term ambition of Tramlink to run the trams on-street to Crystal Palace, but with tram trains you only need a small piece of infrastructure.

At the bottom of the image, there is a blue roundel at a kink on the green line denoting Harrington Road tram stop. From here, the line goes northwards and turns to run alongside the railway to Birkbeck station.

The line goes to Crystal Palace station if you could turn left. That station is at the end of the topmost orange line on the map.

Here’s a large scale Google Earth image of the area, where Route 2 joins the main line railway.

Tramlink Route 2 To Crystal Palace

Tramlink Route 2 To Crystal Palace

There is probably enough railway land where the lines meet to create a simple triangular junction that would allow tram-trains to go from Harrington Road to Crystal Palace. As tram-trains are in effect normal trains on the main line, they would use the normal platforms.

The only problem is to decide where they reverse and go back to Croydon.

Looking at the Crystal Palace Line, the tram-trains could even be run all the way to and from Victoria or London Briodge, but that probably wouldn’t give enough capacity. So a bay platform will have to be brought into use somewhere. This is Platform 1 at Crystal Palace station, where it might be possible.

Changing At Crystal Palace

But it would need some good architecture and clever engineering.

Incidentally, the line has an operating speed of sixty miles an hour, so the Class 399 tram-trains would not interrupt any traffic, if they went all the way.

Where the tram-trains terminate will also be determined by passenger statistics.

If a variant of Route 2 was run by tram-trains, that continued to Crystal Palace, this would not cause any problem at the Croydon end, as they’d just go round the loop and back to the east.

The Hayes Line

Closely related to Tramlink Routes 1 and 2 is the Hayes Line.

I get the impression that it is a bit of a nuisance to train operating companies, as it’s always being talked about as a possible new terminus for the Bakerloo Line. Withdrawal of passenger services from the line have also been proposed and rejected in the recent past.

This Google Earth image shows how it crosses the Crystal Palace Line to the west of Beckenham Junction.

Hayes Line Crossing The Crystal Palace Line

Hayes Line Crossing The Crystal Palace Line

The Hayes Line crosses from north to south, but it is not a complete junction, where tram-trains coming from Crystal Palace could access the line. But there would appear to be the space for the necessary infrastructure.

As I said in the section on Tramlink Route 1 it could also be linked to that route at Elmers End.

There may also be advantages in running tram-trains as trams on the Hayes Line.

Remember that if you ran tram-trains from Victoria to Beckenham Junction and/or from Cannon Street to Hayes, you don’t necessarily have to stop running the current trains.

But overall, I  have my doubts about tram-trains on the Hayes branch, without some radical thinking.

Perhaps it is extended to the south past Hayes station as a tram route or Elmers End could be developed as a full interchange for trams and tram-trains, working the two routes.

But as there are more urgent proble,s and proposals on Tramlink, I think nothing much will happen on the Hayes branch.

Tramlink Route 3

The Tramlink Route 3 to Wmbledon has two connections with the rail network; Mitcham Junction and Wimbledon.

I am not knowledgeable about routes and traffic levels in that part of London, to postulate if tram-trains would be any advantage and give better connectivity for rail passengers.

However one of the proposed extensions of Tramlink is to Sutton station. Look at the layout at Mitcham Junction in this Google Earth image.

Mitcham Junction

Mitcham Junction

It might be possible to put a curve between Tramlink Route 3 and the Sutton and Mole Valley Lines that go south to Sutton and Epsom. According to Wikipedia Sutton station used to have a bay platform for local services from Mitcham. Could it be reinstated?

Tramlink Route 4

The Tramlink Route 4 to Elmers End is a partial dupication of other routes.

Proposed Routes

There are several proposed routes for the Tramlink.

I have already dealt with the extensions to Crystal Palace and Sutton and how tram-trains might help.

But could tram-trains help with other extensions. I also think that if anybody suggests more street running of trams, this might get short-shrift from car drivers, so a lot of the proposed extensions might be difficult to get planned.

As to getting to Mitcham Town Centre from Mitcham Junction, they probably won’t help unless another station is added to the line between Mitcham Junction and Mitcham Eastfields. But as the latter station was only opened in 2008, I can’t see that happening.

The route south to Purley would probably be liked by passengers, but it would probably be difficult to fit into Croydon’s crowded town centre.

Croydon Town Centre

Croydon Town Centre

The red arrow points to West Croydon station, with East Croydon station at the right, with the green lines showing the current tram routes.

The only way to go south would probably be with a lot of unpopular street running.

However, a route to Brixton could be fairly easy for a tram-train, by going via either Mitcham Junction or Crystal Palace.

The Tram-Trains Go Anywhere Capability

I am assuming that the tram-trains chosen are something like the Class 399, with the following characteristics.

1. Ability to use third rail or overhead 750 V DC.

2.Double-ended and able to use both tram and train platforms.

3. 110 kph and main line crash protection.


A tram-train with this level of capability could go virtually anywhere in South London, provided the track layout allowed it to get on the full-size railway.

So where could a tram-train go from Croydon?

Brixton – Via Crystal Palace, Gypsy Hill, West Norwood, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill

If the Victoria Line was extended to Herne Hill, this would give South London a very useful tube connection. You could also build a decent station at Brixton to link all the lines together.

Bromley South – Via Beckenham Junction

Epsom – Via Mitcham Junction and Sutton

Clapham Junction – Via Mitcham Junction, Balham and Wandsworth Common

Lewisham – Via New Beckenham, and Catford Bridge

This would link the Tramlink to the DLR

Orpington – Via Beckenham Junction and Bromley South

New Cross – Via New Beckenham, Catford Bridge and Lewisham.

This route actually extends the New Cross branch of the East London Line to Hayes.

Whatever happens in Croydon, I think it would be a good idea if perhaps four trains per hour of the eight extra that could be sent down the East London Line were to be sent to the Hayes Branch or Orpington via Lewisham. It would connect that part of South London to Crossrail at Whitechapel.

February 26, 2015 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] my speculation about tram-trains in Croydon, I realised that you could get from Dalston Junction to Hayes with just one change at New Cross, in […]

    Pingback by Should Trains Run From Dalston Junction To Hayes? « The Anonymous Widower | February 26, 2015 | Reply

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