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Tram Cross River Tram

New tram running from Camden and King's Cross to Euston, Holborn, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle and then to both Peckham and Brixton.

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Introduction

Cross River Transit (CRT) is a tram scheme which will link two northern branches to Camden Town and King's Cross with two southern branches to Brixton and Peckham, via a central corridor past Euston, Holborn and Waterloo.

It is forecasted to carry some 60 million passengers per annum, and to cost 450 million. It saw a high level of support during public consultation in January 2002 (92% of respondents in favour).

Some 10,000 passengers are expected to use CRT each peak hour (with a frequency of 30tph or every 2 minutes) along its 16.5km route, which has 200,000 people in its catchment area.

The tram should help relieve some congestion on the Northern and Victoria lines, as well as providing much-improved public transport access to North Peckham and Walworth. It will also provide the first direct rail-based link between King's Cross and Waterloo stations.

Current status

A TfL board meeting in February 2006 noted that "work has commenced on the options selection phase which will involve local public consultation and will result, by early 2007, in a single option for the whole route capable of being safeguarded by the Boroughs." Public consultation on the route options begins in November 2006 and continues until January 2007.

Variations

Camden and Islington councils are pressing for the King's Cross branch to be routed along Euston Road and extended into Islington, an option being examined by TfL prior to public consultation on route options.

Camden would also like to see the tram run beyond Camden Town, to Chalk Farm. This would have the advantage of better serving the market.

The development plans for King's Cross allow four possible routes into King's Cross - from Brill Place (the original Somers Town route) into Midland Road, from Pancras Road into Midland Road (both terminating outside St Pancras Thameslink station), from Euston Road stopping at the new square planned for the front of King's Cross station (which would allow easy onward extension into Islington) and from Pancras Way down "the Boulevard" - the "high street" planned for the area between St Pancras and King's Cross - terminating outside the Underground northern ticket hall.

Northern branches

The northern branches are relatively short, and have been modified from earlier version of the scheme to take into account local objections. The route joins/divides at Mornington Crescent to serve either Camden Town station, or stops at the St. Pancras Hospital followed by King's Cross St. Pancras.

Camden Town

Particular attention was given to Camden Town in the development of the proposal. Schemes to improve Camden Town station have been hitting problems for the last decade; the station is at capacity and sees scheduled closures on Sundays to prevent overcrowding caused by the popularity of the Camden markets.

CRT could provide benefits to Camden Town through both its construction and operation. The construction would allow improvements to bus and pedestrian facilities around the station; once complete, CRT would link key tourist entry points (King's Cross & Waterloo) and accommodation areas (Bloomsbury) to this major tourist attraction.

The CRT stop would be on the western side of the (hopefully by this time) redeveloped Camden Town tube station, on Camden High Street. This short section of street would be closed to through traffic. Bus interchange would be in Kentish Town Road, just the other side of the tube station.

From here to Mornington Crescent, Camden High Street would be a two-way transit-only street - permitting just CRT, buses and access to property. Bus stops would be "off-line" (in laybys to permit trams to pass), as would delivery bays.

King's Cross

The King's Cross branch has an unusual layout, and has been re-planned. It was previously proposed to run from Eversholt Terrace through Somers Town via Phoenix Road, but this route received significant opposition from Somers Town residents who felt it would physically divide their community.

CRT has to avoid the busy Euston Road and associated complications with utilities and the Circle line tunnels.

Therefore the new route leaves the main tram line much further north, at Mornington Crescent, and then runs down Crowndale Road to Goldington Crescent, where there would be a stop for the St. Pancras Hospital and Hospital for Tropical Diseases. It would then run down the northern part of Pancras Road, swinging underneath the St. Pancras extension using the new section of Goods Way.

Reaching the eastern side of St Pancras, it would run down the southern part of Pancras Road to a three-platform stop outside the King's Cross suburban platforms.

This would be opposite the entrance to the St Pancras CTRL domestic platforms for trains to Kent, and adjacent to the proposed northern ticket hall for the underground station (which is currently postponed - see the King's Cross page).

A loop would run around from the tramstop in a clockwise direction back up to Goodsway, permitting trams to serve King's Cross without reversing. This would easily allow a future service extension into the new developments on the King's Cross railway lands. For that future extension, the new northern terminus of the King's Cross branch would be near the proposed York Way station for the North London (and possible Piccadilly) Line.

Presumably the tram would run through the railway land developments in its own purpose-built "boulevard".

Regardless of this potential branch into the developments, TfL will seek Section 106 contributions (money from developers to mitigate the transport effects of their development) for a tram stop on Goodsway to serve the railway land developments.

Islington Council have expressed a desire for this branch to be extended northwards to Finsbury Park in the future.

Thanks to John Rowland for much of this detailed information.

Core Section (Mornington Crescent to Waterloo)

North of the river

The crossing of the Euston Road would take place at Eversholt Terrace and would be the only point where CRT would not have full priority, since the 90-second phasing of the lights here is critical to keeping traffic moving on the busy Inner Ring Road. Departures from Euston and Tavistock Square tramstops either side of the junction would be managed carefully, to help passage through the junction and prevent delays.

CRT traverses a traditional through route through Bloomsbury and Holborn by using Woburn Place, Southampton Row and Kingsway. Stops served would be Tavistock Square, Russell Square station, Holborn station and the Aldwych (stop for both directions west of Kingsway near the junction with Drury Lane; trams would not follow the one-way system). There would be a new southbound (contraflow) bus/tram lane along that western section of the Aldwych.

Crossing the River

The well-known underpass which carries northbound traffic from Waterloo Bridge directly to Kingsway used to be a tram tunnel. It is therefore important to note that this tunnel would not be used for CRT. Instead, trams would travel over Lancaster Place. There would be a stop on the descent from Waterloo Bridge to serve the South Bank.

Waterloo

There would be a CRT stop on Waterloo Road, immediately between Waterloo East and Waterloo stations. This is already a key bus road, and the segregation provided for CRT should improve bus services in the area, particularly the corridor between Waterloo and the Elephant & Castle, as buses would be allowed to use CRT's segregated alignment.

Southern Branches

Waterloo to Brixton

Running down Baylis Road and Kennington Road, there would be stops at Lambeth North station, the Imperial War Museum and Kennington Cross.

CRT would then run down Clapham Road to Stockwell, with an intermediate stop at Albert Square. After Stockwell "The Swan" (next to the station), trams would run down Stockwell Road, stopping at Stockwell Green and the Brixton Academy before terminating in Popes Road adjacent to Brixton railway station.

At Stockwell Green there would be a bus/tram gate, i.e. only buses and trams would be allowed to pass through a point here. This is to prevent rat-running down this road (most north-south traffic would be expected to use Brixton Road to the Oval and then cross to Vauxhall).

Waterloo to Peckham

CRT would run down Waterloo Road and serve a stop at St George's Circus near the South London University. After this, it enters the Elephant & Castle regeneration area, which should be completely rebuilt by the time the tram arrives.

However, TfL have also safeguarded a route which does not depend on the reconstruction of this area. In that scenario, the tram will run along New Kent Road briefly and then down Elephant Road at the back of the shopping centre to reach Walworth Road. The planned route through the regeneration area can be used instead if/when it becomes available.

Under the Elephant & Castle plan, London Road will become a two-way public transport & cycle-only street, segregating CRT from private traffic. CRT does not stop on London Road and will be in the centre, between the outer bus lanes.

The northern roundabout at Elephant & Castle will be turned into a major public square, with the southeastern section being completely pedestrianised, and all pedestrian underpasses being replaced with wide surface crossings.

The tram will have a segregated alignment along the western side of the square, serving the Elephant & Castle stop. New access to the Bakerloo and Northern Line stations will be adjacent to this tramstop, and access to the Thameslink/South Eastern railway station would be via the new pedestrianised High Street just to the east. There would also be interchange with buses towards Camberwell and Kennington via a bus stop just to the south of the tramstop.

All of this alignment within the Elephant & Castle centre (i.e. between London Road and the southern junction) will be designed so that the City Tram can also use it.

The tram then runs down (still segregated) to the current location of the southern roundabout, which will be rebuilt as part of the Elephant & Castle scheme. It then swings into Walworth Road. The section of Walworth Road between here and Heygate Street will be public transport & cycles only; the tram does not stop here, so it will be in the centre of the road.

CRT would then serve Heygate Street (to be renamed Heygate Boulevard) using a dedicated public transport alignment along the centre of the road. At this point, CRT diverts off main roads to serve Walworth via the current 343 bus route, using Heygate Street, Rodney Road and Thurlow Street to serve stops at Catesby Street, East Street and Albany Road.

The route then controversially cuts through Burgess Park, in which another stop is planned. Just south of the park, a stop is planned at Chandlers Way, and the tram then travels through the heart of the North Peckham estate to Kelly Avenue, where it swings to Peckham Arch and then terminates at Peckham Bus Station.

Peckham Bus Station is considered a more important destination than Peckham Rye rail station since the bus station is 20 times busier than the rail station (20x more arrivals and departures at the bus station) and serves east-west bus routes which are seen as important interchange for CRT.

It should be noted that the route within the North Peckham estate has changed substantially from its depiction in the report on CRT to the map currently being shown on the TfL website. I have described the latter route. TfL do note in the report that the regeneration plans for the estate could cause a change in the route.

Infrastructure

Sharing with buses

One of the advantages here as with the West London Tram is the ability to share segregated on-road routes with bus services. This is important since tram routes usually serve existing busy bus corridors.

It must be noted, however, that buses cannot stop at the same platform-type stops that trams uses since they might strike the edge. Layby stops will be provided where necessary, to give the added advantage of not obstructing the tram route.

The issue of buses was a problem during the planning of CRT. Giving full priority to an intensive tram service is difficult where the tram crosses busy east-west bus routes at the Aldwych, Holborn (Theobald's Road eastbound routes and High Holborn westbound ones) and Euston Road. This may have led to a reduction in the proposed tram frequency from 40 to 30 trams per hour.

Depot

Original plans for CRT envisaged a depot built into the development plans for the King's Cross railway lands. However, those plans were dropped following objections by Camden Council and the developers, who felt that the scale of the depot would prejudice the viability of the development. A subsequent proposal saw a single, large brownfield site in Peckham mooted (although it has been contested whether this site is actually brownfield or not) - but a planning inspector's inquiry into the London Borough of Southwark's proposed planning framework (UDP) came out against this scheme and recommended a depot split across two sites instead.

The current plan is to use a site bounded by the railway lines to the north, Consort Road and Copeland Road to the east, Bournemouth Road to the south and Rye Lane to the west. Firm proposals do not yet exist, but the possibility of a large town centre depot has generated local protest.

News

(newest first)
Peckham tram depot will be smaller
2006-07-04 14:23:52

TfL are planning to build a smaller tram depot in Peckham than previously envisaged, after reaching agreement with a government planning inspector in relation to the London Borough of Southwark's Unitary Development Plan. TfL will look for an additional site to service trams. However, some local residents are concerned about a loss of local business and community facilities to make way for the depot.

London plan foresees new homes in centre
2004-02-13 00:41:31

The Mayor's London Plan includes 4200 homes at Elephant & Castle and 1250 at King's Cross, providing a further impetus to build Cross River Transit.

Links & Sources

  1. Transport for London Tram Projects
  2. Cross River Transit: Report
  3. Cross River Partnership
  4. Cross River Partnership: Tram fact page
  5. Cross River Partnership: Tram business case
  6. Elephant & Castle Regeneration
  7. Peckham Vision: Campaign group against Peckham depot

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