Is the Dingwall Road loop a loopy idea?

By - Thursday 5th November, 2015

Vanessa Nicholson takes a closer look at the plans for Croydon town centre’s new tram lay-out

Proposed new tram loop along Dingwall Road.
Image public domain.

Transport for London plans to put in additional tram track in central Croydon. The proposal is to install new track along Dingwall Road and Lansdowne Road. Some trams running from East Croydon westwards towards the town centre would instead turn right into Dingwall Road and then left into Lansdowne Road. They would then turn left again to join the existing tram track along Wellesley Road and travel back up to East Croydon.

There would be a new platform installed near Emerald House in Lansdowne Road. The new stop would be within sight of the front entrance of the new Croydon Westfield retail centre, planned to replace the existing Whitgift centre and to open in 2019. The existing stop at Wellesley Road would be refurbished and re-sited further south (in the direction of Fairfield Halls).

The estimated cost of this construction is £27 million. Of this, £15 million is expected to come from the Westfield and Hammerson redevelopment of the Whitgift shopping centre.

If the consultation process passed you by, you’re not alone

A public consultation took place between 18th May and 28th June 2015. TfL sent out 1500 letters, 35,000 emails and issued a press release to local newspapers. If all of this passed you by, you are not alone. Most people I have spoken to didn’t know about it and in fact Transport for London only received 379 responses. Of these, twelve were from stakeholders (local councils, companies and residents groups and so on). 79% of respondents supported the proposals in principle. TfL’s report on the consultation was published on 9th October 2015 and can be read here.

Various concerns were raised by both stakeholders and members of the public. These included the impact on bus services that currently use Lansdowne and Dingwall Roads, lack of provision for pedestrians and cyclists and the effects on trams across other parts of the network, particularly loss of capacity from Wandle Park beyond East Croydon.

Exactly how will the proposed loop increase capacity?

For myself, I just don’t understand how the proposed loop will address the current problems identified by Transport for London. It is supposed to increase the carrying capacity of the tram system and will obviously increase capacity between East Croydon and Wellesley Road but I don’t see how it will provide more capacity on the tram system as whole.

The position of the new stop has been chosen to provide access to the Whitgift centre development, Lansdowne Road and East Croydon train station. But access to the new shopping centre is dependent on a pedestrian crossing being built on Wellesley Road (something being considered under a separate scheme) and if you wanted to go to the station, surely you would have already got off the tram at the existing stop at East Croydon?

TfL says that the new loop will minimise disruption in the event that the existing town centre loop becomes impassable. At the moment, any incident on the town centre track means that passengers have to walk between East Croydon and Reeves Corner and it is difficult to see how the new loop would make any difference to this.

The loop will provide a turning circle for the trams. I thought that one of the advantages of trams is that, with a cab at each end, they don’t need to turn around to go back the other way.

It’s hard not to conclude that the purpose is to deposit people in Croydon, rather than help them move freely across the area

TfL plans to hold a separate public consultation on the changes to bus services affected by the Dingwall Road Loop; no dates have been announced for this so far. A TWAO (Transport and Works Act Order) application will probably be made in 2016. After TfL submits this application, there will be a forty-two day period in which any interested party can review the submitted documents and comment on the application. Construction could then start in 2017 and will take between eighteen and twenty-four months to be completed. During this period there will be some disruption caused to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles using Dingwall Road, Lansdowne Road, Wellesley Road and George Street. There will also be a period when trams will not be able to cross the junctions at Wellesley Road and George Street and will need to terminate and return from these points.

As part of TfL’s strategy for 2030, another new loop on the west side of the town centre at Reeves Corner is proposed although no details are yet available. This would mean that there would be loops on both sides of the town centre. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the focus of the new work is simply to deposit people in Croydon. The movement of passengers through the town centre or to areas not currently served by the network has not been addressed.

Vanessa Nicholson

Vanessa Nicholson

Vanessa Nicholson has lived in Central Croydon for over 25 years. She still mourns the loss of Turtles, Beanos and The Water Palace. She shakes her head in bewilderment at some of the decisions taken by the Council - spending £450 million on its new office, building an incinerator at Beddington Lane, closing down the David Lean Cinema and selling off the Riesco Collection to mention just a few. But... she enjoys discovering the unexpected side of Croydon - the view from the terrace at Heathfield House or from the viewing platform at Addington Hills, Coombe Wood Gardens, the Whitgift Almshouses... and she loves the tenacity, ingenuity and spirit of Croydon’s inhabitants - RISE Gallery, Matthew's Yard, Lives Not Knives, Croydon Radio, the allotments at Wandle Park, the successful campaign to save the David Lean Cinema and many more.

More Posts

  • Francesco Ingravallo

    The excellent London Reconnections blog has a very detailed article on the future proposals for tramlink:

    For simplicity’s sake, here are 3 diagrams which show the tram network and how the proposals will change the services.

    The services now:

    The service next year once 12 trams per hour are running to Wimbledon:

    And the service by 2019 once the Dingwall loop is finished:

    I think a key passage from the article is the following:

    “Running 5tph around the Dingwall Road Loop would initially appear to mean that the town centre loop lost 5tph. Of course it actually loses 3tph from New Addington since the new service would be an enhancement over the previous 8tph from New Addington that went around the town centre. Nevertheless that would mean just a paltry 5tph would depart from East Croydon to Centrale and West Croydon. In fact the number of trams around the town centre loop would only go down by 1tph due to an additional proposal to supplement the Elmers End service with a 2tph service that would serve the town centre.”

    - there is one fewer tram per hour looping from East Croydon via Centrale and West Croydon back to East Croydon and out, reducing congestion in the western half of the town centre
    - the capacity to Wandle Park remains the same – 12 trams per hour – but all of these now go all the way to Wimbledon
    - the loop allows for more capacity from Elmers End and New Addington

    Hopefully these address some of the concerns you have raised.

    • CroydonSurrey

      I wish there was a way for them to have the trams to cross under addiscombe road. Major bottle neck if trains go to 24 per hour!

  • Anne Giles

    Nobody will use the tram to go shopping, of course, as one can hardly carry a load of shopping on a tram. Best to go by car.

    • Nick Davies

      err.. all the people who don’t have cars (which in London is a greater percentage than just about anywhere else thanks to our public transport system) don’t go shopping? Amazing how we all get by!

      • Anne Giles

        Funny that, because I don’t know anyone who gets by. All the people you know are obviously not the same crowd as all the people I know. :-)

        • Francesco Ingravallo

          The type of shopping one does at a shopping centre isn’t necessarily the same as at a supermarket. Obviously a car is more useful when you’re doing a big weekly shop for you family at Sainsbury’s (or elsehwere), but you don’t need a car to take home a couple of bags from John Lewis, Topshop et al.

          • Anne Giles

            Some people can’t carry more than one bag. It depends on one’s age, how fit one is, and if one is taking small children with one on the shop.

          • CroydonSurrey

            Get a oap trolley Annie if you struggle with shopping.

          • Anne Giles

            There is no such thing as an OAP trolley. There are plenty of trolleys for people of all ages to carry their shopping. Nothing to do with whether they work or are retired. I, personally, am unable to push, pull or lift a trolley on to a bus, tram, bicycle or horse and cart. I am a Blue Badge holder and I drive everywhere. Many of my neighbours drive and will continue to do so. To carry shopping and hold the hands of little toddlers at the same time is not easy and it is none of your business anyway.

          • CroydonSurrey

            Sorry for being rude earlier but if you have a blue badge why on earth are you worried . Your always get parking etcetera. Even with kids, a couple of bags of shopping isn’t a major ask.

          • Anne Giles

            I am not worried at all. I rarely go to the town centre anyway. I was merely talking about what my neighbours have been telling me.

          • Francesco Ingravallo

            No of course not – and many people will continue to drive to the new shopping centre I’d imagine just as they do now, and they will probably be more comfortable as the current NCP car park is in dire need of improvement!

          • Anne Giles

            It certainly is!!

          • Anne Giles

            The only really nice car park is the Q Park in Surrey Street, always manned, CCTV and well lit.

          • Stephen Giles

            Why the hell should they use public transport anyway – infinitely safer and more comfortable by car, and no germ-ridden people coughing and sneezing all over you!!

      • Anne Giles

        Most people prefer cars, even when the public transport system is good. Try reading all the unhappy tweets about what is happening to people struggling to travel to work by train lately! I get e-mails from Tfl every week, notifying me of which tube lines are closed each week-end and which roads are closed, thus affecting the buses. Then there are the tube drivers, who keep going on strike. :-(

    • CroydonSurrey

      What on earth do you buy when you go shopping. Everyone i see never has more then a few bags. It’s Westfield, not ikea!

      • Anne Giles

        I don’t go shopping. So you believe that these people you see carrying a few bags are going to take the tram? Everyone I see is taking their bags inside a supermarket trolley and heading for the car park! I have never seen anyone with children and more than one bag walking to the tram stop! Perhaps you need to get yourself a pair of glasses!

        • CroydonSurrey

          Supermarket shopping is different. You need to go into town or one of Westfields and actually people watch.

          • Anne Giles

            We have always avoided large shopping centres. IKEA, anything along the Purley Way, the huge ones off the motorway, etc. Anyway, we have no time to people watch. We have all our supermarket shopping delivered, except for fresh fruit and vegetables, which I buy during the week.

  • Sean Creighton

    Very timely discussion. It is amazing that so much money will be spent to achieve so little. My questions include:

    Why would shoppers take the loop that does not go into the new Whitgift Centre when it will be quicker to walk down George St and cross over the the proposed anchor store of John Lewis, especially as the siting of the new platform in Lansdowne Rd still requires walking to the pedestrian crossing?

    Will office workers in the loop area use the tram when it will be quicker to walk to and from East Croydon Station given there is no platform on Dingwall Rd and only one on Lansdowne Rd?

    Given the construction timetable and the disruption, noise and dirt will it adversely affect the potential customers for the Boxpark food area project, to which the Council has invested a loan of £3m?

    Have Tfl and their planners lost the plot?

    Would Westfield and Hammerson’s £15m contribution be better spent on investing in the area around the proposed new Whitgift Centre, such as turning SEGAS House into a museum, art gallery and community space.

    • CroydonSurrey

      Spending 15m on a museum is the last thing Croydon needs at the moment

      • Sean Creighton

        I am not proposing £15m on a museum but it could be one project the money could be spent on.

  • PolarDog

    I looked at the plans and saw a 4th option – a Croydon circle line. Eastbound trams would divert from Wellesley to a new Dingwall station, turn right into George Street and loop through the town back to Dingwall. This would relieve pressure at East Croydon and help in delivering commuters and shoppers into the town centre. Other routes would remain unchanged.