Train or tram: do passengers care?

29 August 2012

Yes, they probably do if the tram offers a better service. It is interesting coming through Mitcham Junction in south west London. There side by side you have the platforms for Croydon Tramlink and Southern and First Capital Connect services.

They feel like platforms in different worlds. The rail side is an old Victorian, enclosed building where the heavy, main line trains rattle and wheeze to a halt. The tram side is open and modern and the trams whizz in and out, quickly picking up speed. Interesting the trams run on a track bed of an old railway line. Maybe that thinking needs much more radical expansion?

The moves towards continental-style tram trains in the UK have been painfully slow. However, conversion of rail track to light rail use can have it’s advantages as the success of the Croydon tram shows.

The Wimbledon Loop services in the area are mooted to all now terminate at Blackfriars once the new Thameslink service pattern comes in. In an ideal world all or at least some would continue to offer journey opportunities through London. However, capacity constraints loom large.

What will the Wimbledon Loop get in return for its severance? More trains? Faster trains (it is chronically slow at present) or, more radical – tram trains and totally revamped stations to go with them?

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