Support high for linking Sutton to London Tramlink

In late 2018 Transport for London launched a consultation into proposals to improve transport connections between the boroughs of Sutton and Merton which could include an extension of London Tramlink. The results have now been revealed and have shown that 81% of those who responded to the survey were in favour of using trams to improve transport in the area with only 40% backing the bus rapid transit option.

Taking you back to 2018 and three options were put on the table:

* Option 1: South Wimbledon to Sutton Town Centre with on street running and an interchange with Tramlink at Morden Road (although a physical connections was described as difficult). This option could either be tram or bus rapid transit.

* Option 2: Colliers Wood to Sutton Town Centre with street based running with an interchange to Tramlink at Belgrave Walk. Described as the easiest to connect to Tramlink and would improve public transport in less well connected areas. Again could either be constructed as tram or bus rapid transit.

* Option 3: Wimbledon to Sutton Town Centre with the current Thameslink operated Sutton loop line converted to trams. This would be guaranteed a tram link and was also the cheapest option proposed.

Of these options the most popular was 1 (65% supporting) followed by 2 (55%) and then 3 (49%). In total there were 5,980 responses. Overall there was significant support for the proposals with 86% supporting the scheme in some form. Using trams was also considered to be the best way forward by most respondents with 81% in favour. The alternative of Bus Rapid Transit was supported by four in ten of those who responded to the survey.

Whilst on the whole it was a positive outcome for possibility of trams there were some stakeholders who were not in favour of the principle of the scheme. This included the Belmont, South Sutton and Cheam Forum (suggesting London Overground extensions were a better idea), Cycling UK/Cycling Tourist Club (potential disruption of the tram line and said the tracks would be treacherous to cyclists in the wet) and the Worcester Park Residents Association (wouldn’t benefit residents and would be costly to build). However, the vast majority of those considered stakeholders – 45 in total – were in favour of at least one of the options with some slight reservations surrounding disruption and whether it would solve transport issues or just move them to another area. Interestingly two other cycle groups were in favour as long as consideration was made for cyclists including new cycle lanes etc.

Now that the consultation has closed and the initial report released Transport for London will review each response before making a decision on how to proceed later this year. The project would cost between £275 million (bus rapid transit on options 1 and 2) and £425 million (tram on the same options) with any construction aimed to commence in 2022 for a start of services in 2025. Where any funding may come from remains to be seen as well with TfL having committed £70 million and Merton and Sutton councils £30 million combined.

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