Case for Croydon tram extension to Sutton considered ‘weak’ so new London bus routes are coming instead

Sadiq Khan has said that the case for an extension of the London Tram network is ‘weak’. Proponents of the project – which would see services between Sutton and Colliers Wood via St Helier – were left frustrated after it was put on hold by Transport for London (TfL) in 2020.

MyLondon understands that the proposal is ‘still paused’, with the latest being what was said by the Mayor of London – who is also the Chair of TfL – towards the end of last year. Mr Khan said on November 21: “I would reconsider the case for a tram extension to Sutton if funding became available. It should be noted that, when work on the project was paused in 2019, Transport for London (TfL) had identified that the case for the scheme was weak, so this would also need to improve for the scheme to progress.”

Instead, the mayor says he aims to ‘improve’ London buses and rail connections in the area. He added: “As well as the many zero emission buses and the Superloop service already introduced in Sutton, new and extended routes will be introduced in March 2024, improving links between Sutton Hospital, Sutton town centre and Merton; between Waddon Marsh and Belmont; and between Epsom and St Helier.

READ MORE: The old railway that’s only used by freight but set to be part of London Overground

A general view of Sutton in London
Currently, only National Rail services and buses are available in Sutton
(Image: Tony Monblat)

“I am also seeking improvements to rail services in South London. TfL’s strategic case for metroisation, published in 2019, proposes more trains from Sutton, four trains per hour all day around the Wimbledon Loop, and semi-fast services between Sutton and Victoria all day.

“However, these plans are not currently approved or funded. TfL has also supported the London Borough of Sutton in securing funding towards a doubling of trains to Belmont to serve the London Cancer Hub.”

Bus changes on the way

Here is a full breakdown of the changes to bus services that TfL says will be introduced from March 2024:

  • Route 164 will be extended from the Sutton Hospital area and the town centre, creating new links between the hospital and the north of the borough and Merton. Route S4 will be restructured to run between Waddon Marsh and Belmont, and will operate on Sundays for the first time, giving an ‘improved, higher frequency’ service
  • The improvements to Route S4 will take passengers to the entrance of The Royal Marsden hospital – ‘improving access for cancer patients’, as well as staff and visitors to the wider London Cancer Hub site
  • A new route, the S2, will be created, running between Epsom and St Helier via the town centre, resulting in ‘more frequent’ buses between Sutton and Epsom, and a Sunday service for the first time. Ahead of these improvements, more than 30 bus shelters have been updated in the borough, bosses say, offering more comfortable seating, better weather protection and LED lighting. Additional countdown signs providing real time information have also been installed at some bus stops

‘Vital’ that Sutton is connected to the wider tube and tram network

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and the group’s transport spokesperson, Caroline Pidgeon AM, suggested that the scheme is even more vital after Mr Khan extended the capital’s ULEZ.

She said on November 27: “While I’m pleased to see the mayor is willing to revisit the extension of London Trams to Sutton should more funding become available, the current situation isn’t good enough.

Pictured is London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon
Caroline Pidgeon AM says she will continue to ‘push the mayor’ over an extension

“Residents in Sutton have been waiting over 20 years for this project to get off the ground. With Labour having expanded ULEZ to outer London, it is even more vital now that Sutton is connected to the wider Tube and tram network in London.

“The tram would have unlocked access to jobs, housing and attracted new business and investment into the borough. The Liberal Democrats will continue to push the mayor to ensure Sutton gets the access to the public transport it deserves.

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Councillor Barry Lewis, Liberal Democrat Environment and Sustainable Transport lead on Sutton Council said: “The Mayor is not being fair. The business case for bringing the tram to Sutton has been unequivocally proven. Ten years ago, we showed it would generate over 10,000 additional jobs and over £500 million of GVA.

“That’s 10 years of missed opportunity. Both Conservative and Labour London mayors have failed Outer London and Sutton and this one is no better.”

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