At the end of 2015 it looked as if the plans to extend Tramlink to Sutton had actually taken a step forward with the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson committing £100 million towards the project (which would still have been a small fraction of that required). However 12 months later and this so called guaranteed funding exclusively for the project doesn’t seem quite so guaranteed after all with new incumbent Sadiq Khan removing the funding from the latest TfL Business Plan. Although this isn’t the end of the project the Sutton line would have to jostle for funding through the TfL Growth Fund.
In the December 2016 Transport for London Business Plan it is stated that the tram network will be expanded (along with the Overground and DLR) but this now seems mainly be the construction of the Dingwall Road loop in central Croydon rather than a full extension.
The TfL Growth Fund currently has £200 million unallocated and the report states that “It could possibly make a contribution towards an extension of the tram network from Wimbledon to Sutton, should agreement on an acceptable business case and funding package be reached with the borough.” On the face of it this does seem like a bit of backtracking on the behalf of TfL however it should be noted that the previous £100 million would still have required a business case to be developed and there was no guarantee this would have happened. However despite that it does seem a bit of a kick in the teeth for campaigners who have wanted this line for a number of years.
Steve O’Connell, Greater London Authority member for Sutton and Croydon, said: “his is devastating news for commuters and a disgraceful reversal of the commitment made by Boris less than 12 months ago. From having guaranteed funding we will now be forced to join the queue and compete with dozens of other projects across London. It is a slap in the face for the people of Croydon and Sutton. Sutton is the only London borough to have no tube station, no Crossrail station, no London Overground station, no proposed Crossrail 2 station, and now the Mayor has all but killed off hopes of a tram network.”
Other interest in the Business Plan includes news on the Dingwall Road loop which is said to be opening in 2021 at the cost of £12 million. Meanwhile on the Docklands Light Railway 43 new full length trains are to be ordered to replace some of the existing stock. This new stock should increase capacity on the DLR by 30% and would be introduced in 2022. Other DLR enhancements would include capacity enhancements and supporting infrastructure of these new trains with £301million identified for this.