Is Tramlink’s Crystal Palace extension dream over?

Confusion reigns over the potential extension of London Tramlink to Crystal Palace following the release of a consultation document into a proposed Bakerloo line extension into Beckenham. The document stated that the extensions to Crystal Palace “are not actively being progressed at this time” despite previous assurances from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson that he would back the extension. But the saga doesn’t end there as a short statement from TfL seemed to deny that it was the end of the road for Crystal Palace and Tramlink!

The controversy reared its head when a consultation document was released which is looking at extending London Underground’s Bakerloo line to Beckenham. It was just a very small part of the document which alerted supporters of extending Tramlink but just one paragraph was enough to cause consternation! It says that Tramlink extensions would only bring limited benefits to the wider south east London area and that as only a small area of Crystal Palace would be connected to Tramlink the “extension is not actively being progressed at this time”.

Transport for London’s Managing Director for Planning, Michele Dix, responded to this with a short statement of his own: “Tramlink extensions are under active consideration, with detailed feasibility and funding work ongoing with the boroughs concerned. The aim is develop deliverable, fundable and value-for-money schemes. This continues to be a priority for the mayor.”

So a contradiction to the consultation document, or is it? There is no mention specifically of Crystal Palace and there are, of course, other options for extending Tramlink with the boroughs of Merton and Sutton recently pushing for a line off the Wimbledon branch serving Sutton.

The news that Crystal Palace’s Tramlink extension – which had previously been “promised” by Boris Johnson – may well be off the agenda was not exactly popular with opponents of the Mayor. Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North (Labour), said: “Boris Johnson has shown contempt for the people of Crystal Palace. He promised to support the tram extension during his election campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and repeated that support as recently as March this year. But now we discover he had no intention of doing what he said. People will be bitterly disappointed that the mayor has broken his promises in this cavalier way.”

It remains to be seen whether the Crystal Palace extension does have any legs after all.

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2 Responses to Is Tramlink’s Crystal Palace extension dream over?

  1. James palma says:

    The proposal for the Bromley via Beckenham Junction Bakerloo line extension is part of the suggested and to be considered TfL plan to 2050. The proposal is unlikely as it would require running an automated tube service over very busy south London commuter lines beyond New Cross. This part of the route (New Cross to Bromley and another branch from New Cross to Hayes) will be better served by London Overground. Simple extensions of existing routes under the Overground banner.

    I suggest, with good reason, that the Bakerloo extension (in tube) would probably terminate at New Cross, where interchange with many south eastern commuter services could take place relieving congestion at London Bridge for those going to the west of town. Just like Kennington was designed to relieve traffic on the Northern line Bank branch in the 1920s.

    There is nothing in the report to say the Crystal Palace extension will not go ahead or even the extension to Bromley of tramlink. Its not being mentioned means nothing. Neither are the current station upgrades or the Northern line extension to Battersea or the Croxley to Watford Junction connection. The Crystal Palace link is correctly termed as not being ‘progressed’ at this time, but that isn’t to say it won’t be.

    Look at what needs to be done to the existing system for tramlink. Town centre capacity improvements. Doubling the Wimbledon branch. A new platform at Wimbledon. These cost money to fix existing infrastructure.

    There is only so much money that can be awarded and the projects above are a very few that TfL have to deal with.

  2. Nigel Pennick says:

    The Bakerloo extension if finished in 2050 will have taken 100 years to do. Tunnelling towards Camberwell was started in 1949, but the works were abandoned in 1950. The Tramlink extension to Sutton will probably have priority over Crystal Palace now, after a consultation this year gained over 80% approval for trams there.