In Review: Croydon Tramlink A Definitive History by Gareth David

I guess its sign of getting old when a book entitled “A Definitive History” on one of the UK’s modern tramways comes out but when the main wave of new systems have now been around for approximately 20 years it is certainly time that we saw some in-depth looks at their gestation and operation. A new book from Pen & Sword Books seeks to do just this with Croydon (now London) Tramlink – but is it worth purchasing? Read on for our review of the book.

Firstly, cards on the table! This book contains a number of my own photos which I supplied to the author for inclusion but despite that one of the main plus points of this book is the quality of the photography with images from across the years of Tramlink and also at various locations on the network. The original red and white livery as well as the newer green, white and blue colours both feature in abundance making sure that this is not a hefty read in its 200 pages and really illustrating just what Tramlink is about. The one big negative of the book does though come in a photo as a photoshopped image of a tram from Nottingham Express Transit “under test” on the Tramlink network is included but when there are so many good quality photos included I think we can forgive that error from creeping in!

The book is split into ten clearly defined chapters (plus a photo gallery in the centre) starting off from the first discussions of a tram, or light rail, network for the area and going right up until the fairly recent timetable changes and potential expansion for the future. The author has interviewed key players involved in the creation of Tramlink both from what is now Transport for London and the original consortium who ran the system, Tramtrack Croydon Limited.

Of course, the last 20 years have not been plain sailing for Tramlink and the book does not shy away from covering these with both the sometimes acrimonious takeover of the network by TfL and the tragic and fatal derailment at Sandilands featuring in depth within the book.

Any book with the sub-title “A Definitive History” is certainly making a bold claim but that is exactly what Gareth David has managed to do in 200 high-quality pages. With its hard back and dust cover the RPP may seem a little steep at £30 but that is pretty much a standard price nowadays for books of this type and I’m sure if you shop around you will be able to find a bargain or two online! Detailed books on modern tram systems are few and far between but that is exactly what this publication is.

This book is highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in Tramlink to find out just what went on in its creation as well as the various issues that have affected it over the past 20 years.

Croydon Tramlink: A Definitive History by Gareth David is published by Pen & Sword Books and is available now from all major transport book retailers.

* An article by Gareth David on the potential expansion of Tramlink can be found on his Railway World website.

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