Plans for to extend the South London tram service down towards Sutton have taken a step further with the publication of the results of a recent consultation.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of people who responded to the October 2018 consultation want a transport upgrade for the area — either a tram or a guided bus service.
The real question was over what route to take, and whether it would a tram or bus service.
A link from Wimbledon to Sutton was the least popular of the three routes being studied, with less than half of respondents supporting that proposal.
The other two routes follow the same route from Sutton until they reach Morden Hall Park, where they split to either South Wimbledon or Colliers Wood.
While 65% of respondents favoured the South Wimbledon route, versus 55% for the Colliers Wood route — TfL is coming down in favour of the Colliers Wood option.
The Sutton Link would halve the average journey time between Colliers Wood and Sutton to around 18 minutes and would be capable of carrying approximately 2,200 passengers per hour.
They said that concerns about additional overcrowding on the Northern line at Colliers Wood was unlikely as the majority of those people already catch the Northern line at Morden.
TfL also argued that the Colliers Wood option offered the greater transport benefits, and was easier to deliver in construction terms — but probably the most significant in securing funding, the Colliers Wood route opened up more opportunities for housing and regeneration.
While some of the funding to deliver the project is currently in place, other sources of funding need to be confirmed if the project is to move forward.
TfL says that it’s working with the local councils and seeking to tap into national government funding — the most likely option being transport upgrade funding which is linked to house building — which also explains the Colliers Wood preference. Nearly 10,000 additional homes could be built if the tram service is constructed.
The Tram extension projected to cost around £330 million and TfL has committed £70 million to the scheme with another £30 million split between Merton and Sutton councils.
Assuming that progress is made with identifying the remainder of the funding for the scheme, the earliest that construction could begin is in 2023 and is expected to last approximately three years. However, that’s a year later than had been talked about when the consultation open in 2018.
In the longer term, a £100 million extension beyond Sutton town centre to the planned London Cancer Hub at Belmont, which may accommodate up to 10,000 new jobs, will also be considered.