If funding can be found it looks likely that the original fleet of trams built for the opening of the then Croydon Tramlink system will be replaced by new trams. The CR4000s were built by Bombardier in 1998/9 but declining reliability has led Transport for London to start to look for a replacement fleet.
Due to be discussed at a meeting of the Programme and Investment Committee on Wednesday 1st March, initial investigations have taken place into the potential replacement of the trams. An alternative option of extensive refurbishment of the trams has been discounted with the Investment Group making an independent audit of the plans and deciding that the full replacement is the best option.
Early market engagement has been completed and this will inform the overall procurement strategy of the new fleet. Although this is the preferred option there is not currently any funding for this to happen (and it will need a not insignificant investment if a full fleet of 24 trams is to be procured).
As part of the work already undertaken there have been initial assessments of any infrastructure requirements which would need altering to allow a different fleet of trams to operate (with a possible change in dimensions, door positions etc.). This work has helped to inform the overall programme.
TfL have said that the CR4000s are suffering from declining reliability (you only have to regularly check out the service status page on the TfL website to see relatively frequently disruption caused by trams shortages to realise how bad it has become at times) and that “they have one of the lowest states of good repair categorisations across all fleets”.
24 CR4000s were built by Bombardier in Austria in 1998/9 for the opening of the system. 2551 was involved in the tragic accident at Sandilands and hasn’t run since leaving just 23 trams available, which are supplemented by a fleet of 12 Stadler Variobahns.
One of the other CR4000s, 2547, is out of service long-term and has not run since 20th February 2019. Moved away from Croydon, a full assessment of the tram was undertaken and a quote for a replacement underframe has been accepted. Alstom are to undertake the work with a view to returning the tram to service in August 2023.
Although the CR4000s are intended to be replaced, as this is not likely to take place immediately a contract was awarded in August 2022 for the replacement of flooring, doors and rooftop components on the trams.
The Variobahn trams have also not been left out from work as the passenger information display on these trams were replaced in August 2022.
Also in the report it is noted that a new contract for embedded track renewals was signed in August 2022. It had originally been intended that track would be renewed as part of this package in October 2022 but a delay in procuring materials meant that this work has been delayed until April 2023.