MONTHS of frustration turned to celebrations on May 5 when the first 11 km section of Croydon Tramlink opened between the town centre loop and New Addington. Tramtrack Croydon Ltd's Chairman Bob Dorey said it was an 'important day' when TCL 'brought trams back to London', 49 years after the last route in Croydon closed. Admitting that the opening of Line 3 was almost six months late, he remarked that 'it is still less than 31/2 years since LT awarded us the concession ... and we still have more than 95 years left to operate it.'

Other guests at the inauguration included the outgoing Chief Executive of London Transport Denis Tunnicliffe, who retires next month, and the Mayor of Croydon Dr Shafi Khan.

The 7 km Line 2 which diverges at Sandilands to serve Addiscombe, Woodside and Beckenham Junction opened on May 23, and TCL expected to have the remaining 10 km of Line 1 between Elmers End and Wimbledon ready by early June. Services are run by bus and rail operator FirstGroup. Journey time from East Croydon to New Addington and Beckenham Junction is 17min; Wimbledon will be reached in 24min. Around 20 million passengers are expected in the first full year of operation.

  • Commenting on the Croydon event, FirstGroup Chief Executive Moir Lockhead said 'we have been so impressed with what these trams will deliver in London that we are incorporating a light rail proposal into our franchise plans for FirstNorth Western which will carry passengers by tram on heavy rail tracks from northwest cities and take passengers straight on to the streets of central Manchester.'