By Nick Baker, Head of Customer Services, London Trams
Since 2000, Croydon has enjoyed the special position as being the home of the only tram network in the South of England.
You only have to look at the re-development of the town now to see that Croydon is a forward-looking part of the world, but this foresight is not unique to the Croydon of today. As a masterpiece of planning and foresight in the mid 1980s, local politicians from across the political spectrum joined with London Transport and British Rail to show that there was a case to build the network. In 1994, parliament passed an act to bring back trams to our part of London.
And so in 1997, the train services from Croydon to Wimbledon, and Elmers End to Addiscombe were closed. Work to lay new track in the town centre and out to New Addington and Beckenham Junction began, and trams were being built in Austria.
It all came together at lunchtime on 10 May 2000. After an absence of nearly 50 years, trams were back in town! Twenty-four new, modern low-floor trams began serving 38 state-of-the-art stops, and Croydon has not looked back since.
In October 2008, the tram network was taken over by Transport for London (TfL). More and more people were using the trams and TfL made substantial investment into the network, overhauling the trams which sported a new green livery, and gave the stops a new fresh clean look. Work started to improve the comfort with an extensive programme of track renewals. Off-peak periods saw more trams, with increased frequencies making travelling by tram even easier, and new tracks were built to
reduce the single line bottle-necks and enable trams to travel in both directions simultaneously which has resulted in more frequent and faster journeys for customers.
Last year, we built a new platform at Wimbledon and bought more trams, so at Easter we were able to increase the number of trams running between Croydon and Wimbledon by 50 per cent during the day.
But London Trams continues to have plans to make things better for the 30 million plus people who now travel by tram every year. With the current fleet having a combined operated kilometerage of just under 40 million kilometres since opening the network (that is to the moon and back 50 times), London’s Trams continues to evolve.
You can’t mistake the presence of trams in Croydon – we have become part of what makes Croydon special. So if you are a regular passenger, or only occasionally see us as we run through the town, why not come and pay us a visit.
As part of the Croydon Heritage Festival 2016, we are opening the doors of the depot for a look behind the scenes. You can visit the control room and see where the trams are maintained, maybe even have a sit in the driver’s seat! Bookings for this tour is available now on the website.
Fun Fact: Did you know that since opening in 2000, over 400 million journeys have been made on the trams?