Cross-River Tram

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This page has been archived as the information has been overtaken by events. We have kept the page on the site for reference.

See also

The Cross River Tram is a project to link Camden, Brixton and Peckham by tram. The project was being organised by TfL (Transport for London), for the Cross River Partnership and with the support of the previous London Mayor. See TfL’s background information at their website. But the current Mayor has removed the project from TfL's programme planning. In the meantime, the London Assembly Transport Committee and the Cross River Partnership, have confirmed their commitment to the Cross River Tram project, and to continue to press for it to be reinserted in the programme for London's future transport.

14 July 2009 LondonSE1 News Southwark and Lambeth Councils continue to fly the flag for the Cross River Tram

Facts about the Cross River Tram

Cross-River Tram planned route.
  • This was due to be completed in its entirety by 2016
  • The then London Mayor announced a new Two Phase project in September 2007
  • Phase one would be a south of the river project, and Phase two would take it to Camden
  • Each tram would be approximately 45m long (two and half times as long as a bendy-bus)
  • Would be part of the Oyster system
  • Would go via Kings Cross and Waterloo
  • Aims to relieve the overcrowded Northern line across central London, and reduce road traffic
  • Improve transport links between south London and central and north London

The whole project was intended to run from Camden Town, Euston and Kings Cross in the north, down to Aldwych. It would then go across Waterloo Bridge to Waterloo Station where the line divides. One branch would go down towards Brixton (possibly via the Elephant), and the other branch towards Peckham. The route between the Elephant and Peckham was still to be decided, but both the main options avoid Walworth Road and Camberwell. One suggestion follows the route of the 343 bus - down Heygate St, Thurlow St, across Burgess Park and the Wells way and Southampton Way to Peckham. The second option is slightly more direct and crosses Burgess Park to meet Chandler way before arriving in Peckham town centre. There are two route options for crossing the main roads and the pedestrian town square by the Library, and then another two options for getting to the terminus near Peckham Rye station (see Waterloo-Peckham Section brochure).

  • After the May 2008 election, the new Mayor announced a review of major transport projects and results of that were promised for early 2009
  • The Mayor announced on 6th November 2008 that "Cross River Tram (cost to complete £1.3bn): Given the lack of funding available to implement the project and the likelihood of not securing additional third party funding, TfL is not in a position to develop the scheme any further."

See here, here and here for more.

South London political representatives continue to promote the idea of a cross river tram and the possibility of funding from elsewhere.

Two Phase Tram Project

Because of opposition to the tram from Camden Council, then London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, said in late 2007 that the first phase of the tram would be in South London but ending at Waterloo. He hoped that seeing the tram in south London would persuade Camden to drop its opposition. But without crossing the river straightaway, London would lose many of the benefits from the tram. Some have called for it to cross the river at least to the Aldwych, but preferably to Euston and Kings Cross. The Mayor then said it would ‘probably’ cross the river to the Aldwych. This project like other major London transport projects is under review by the new Mayor with announcements now promised for early 2009.

Read more

Peckham Vision added its voice to the calls for it to cross the river in its first phase, but says it has to link with a tube station, and not just stop at the Aldwych. We need a direct link with the Euro Star and long distant rail links, as well as with the Tube, through Euston, St Pancras/Kings Cross. But if Camden Council won't agree to this, alternatives might be a one-way loop at terminus at Temple on the Embankment or Holborn on Southampton Row? Both stations have nearby roads that might be suitable for a tram one-way system, creating a loop terminus there as well.

The new London Assembly Transport Scrutiny Committee held a seminar, on 9th September 2008, on the Cross River Tram and its role in reducing South East London's serious transport deficit. See here for the submission from Peckham Vision. The meeting heard from TfL that the estimated total cost now in outturn prices is £1.3b, and that TfL's 10 year budget agreed last year has no provision for this cost. Even if this funding were secured, the earliest date for implementation had slipped from 2016 to 2018. On 10th September, the London Assembly agreed a motion in support of exploring all ways to secure the funding for the tram, see here The Transport Committee considered this again on 16th October 2008. and recommended by majority vote that TfL:

  • explore all possible funding options for the Cross River Tram in order to come up with a funding package.
  • publish detailed analysis of appropriate solutions to the problems along the north-south corridor.
  • continue to work with representatives of affected communities to find solutions to local route issues so not to jeopardise the progress of the scheme.

See herefor the Committee report.

In the meantime, the new Mayor Boris Johnson is currently reviewing all TfL transport projects and budgets, and will be announcing the results in 2009.

See also: TfL answers Common Questions

There have been calls for a "shuttle bus" or an "express bus" on the route of the cross river tram project to test some aspects of the tram service, and also to provide much needed earlier relief and transport improvement from and to Peckham. This idea has great merit, and the cost should be easily within the existing budgets for buses. TfL's initial response has been to reject this for no obvious reason. As the tram cannot be implemented until 2018 at the earliest, this seems to be a project which should be implemented as soon as possible.


See also: TfL's Cross-River Tram overview brochure & Waterloo-Peckham Section brochure and their publications list

TfL carried out the first preliminary consultation ideas on the tram route (the consultation brochure is available here) in December 2006 & January 2007. This asked for views on different options at several parts of the route. TfL said they would consult later in 2007 on the locations for the tram depots, but this has been postponed to an unknown date.

The report on the consultation is now available at

Tram routes through Peckham

TfL consulted on alternative options for tram routes in three places between Walworth and the terminus in Peckham town centre. All these options will still be relevant in the new Phase One of the tram project. The three alternatives were devised to attempt to overcome some of the problems one or other of the alternatives might cause:

  • Getting the tram across Burgess Park and through north Peckham. The main issues here are how to minimise the disruption to Burgess Park and to road traffic on Wells’ Way.
  • Getting the tram across the northern part of the town centre from Kelly Avenue to the bus garage and Morrison’s car park. The main issues here are how avoid or minimise the disturbance to residents in Joycelin St, the destruction of the pedestrianised and performance space in the town square, the disruption to traffic in Peckham Hill St and Peckham High St, the loss of historic buildings in the High St.
  • Getting the tram from Morrison’s car park and Hanover Park to the terminus beside Peckham Rye Station. Here the issue is whether to go a short route along Cerise Rd to the area where the multi-storey car park is currently (which would be demolished), or whether to go a longer route via Clayton Rd and into the area proposed for the tram depot, and which could disrupt the north-south traffic flow at Consort Rd railway bridge.

See here for the consultation brochure and the description of the alternative options TfL proposed, and here for the results of the consultation.

One Way Loop tram route round Peckham Town Centre

One-way loop map

As a result of the consultation, Peckham Vision has proposed a further tram route option which might resolve some of the problems caused by each of the alternatives in Peckham town centre. This is a single track tram route taking the tram one way from Kelly Avenue through the town centre behind the Library and south along Clayton Rd and Consort Rd to Heaton Road, and back along Rye Lane stopping right outside Peckham Rye station, and then out of the town centre via the High Street and rejoining the double track tram near Kelly Avenue.

Some of the possible advantages of this route would be that as a single track it would cause less disruption than a two way track which is more than double the width. The tram in Croydon town centre is one way single track and seems to work well. A single track might reduce or remove some of the problems faced by the TfL options. For example, a one way single way track might be more feasible along the narrow residential Joycelin Street, across the town square behind the Library, across the main roads, and along Rye Lane and the High Street than a two way double track tram. Such a one way loop around the town centre would not disrupt the south-north road traffic at Consort Road railway bridge, and it would have the big advantage of bringing the tram within walking distance of many more people in Nunhead, Peckham Rye, and East Dulwich. As it might be feasible as a single track to take it on to Rye Lane, it could also stop right outside Peckham Rye station, and be part of the opening up of the piazza in front of the station (see here for those plans). Peckham Vision has asked Southwark Council to ensure that TfL examines this possible route option with the Community Councils’ Tram Working Group which includes local residents.

Concerns about Tram Depot plans

There are many local concerns about the proposal promoted by Southwark Council to use a large strategic site in Peckham's town centre for the Tram Depot. The Depot is naturally of huge significance when deciding where the track will exactly run for the Cross River Tram. However, the Depot site search conducted by TfL was described by the Government Planning Inspector as being 'defective'. This was due to the incorrect belief by TfL that this large part of Peckham Town Centre was 'derelict' and unused. This Town Centre location, previously identified in Southwark's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) as Site 63P but now called site 71P, is several acres in size and is currently home to a growing community of artists, faith groups and small businesses, providing employment opportunities for hundreds of people as well as being a keystone to the regeneration of Peckham town centre. see here and here

The Inspector rejected the original plan, known as the ‘single-site’ plan, to locate the whole depot in Peckham because of its adverse effects on the town centre. He recommended instead a 'split-site' depot, that is part of the depot in Peckham and part somewhere else (click here for the Inspector’s report). The implication was that this would be smaller so that it would have less adverse effects on Peckham town centre. It is in fact less than half an acre smaller, and is more intrusive into the town centre. The ‘split-site’ would stable fewer trams – about 35 compared with the original 48 - but it appears that the repair and maintenance workshops for the whole or major part of the fleet of trams would be on this Peckham site. In effect, the plan is still to locate the main depot on this site, contrary to the reasons for the Inspector's objections to it, and would still sterilise and close off for good this huge site which has a strategic role in realising the potential of the town centre. Click here for comparison of the single-site and split-site plans.

In January 2007 Peckham Vision held an information day to give all Southwark’s Councillors the opportunity to get to know the proposed tram depot site in Peckham, its current users and understand its future potential (click here for the briefing pack prepared for the councillors). One of the Councillors said they had been persuaded by the plan to build a depot on site because some years back officers told them it would regenerate Peckham by having housing and commerce on top of the depot. In fact, property experts say it would be too expensive and the current plans do not include this. The original reasons for Peckham being selected as a preferred depot location no longer stand up, and need to be looked at again.

Site 63P.jpg

Tram Depot Impact

Main article: Effects of tram depot

The grey shaded area in the above map (also available here) is designated in the Council's UDP (Unitary Development Plan) as development site (ref 63P/71P) for "a tram depot, bus garage depot, car parking, and retail on Rye Lane frontage". This area goes from 129 Rye Lane opposite Peckham Rye station, to Consort Road railway bridge, Consort Road, Brayards Road, Copeland Road and Bournemouth Road. It is around 6.5 acres in size, which is large enough easily to accommodate 4 football pitches. If the site is to be used as a Tram Depot then the whole site would be acquired by TfL and most used as a high security storage, maintenance and heavy engineering repair yard for the trams. This large area would be closed off to town centre use and would offer nothing for Peckham's local economy and residents, regardless of the proposed transport benefits to Peckham of the tram itself. In addition to the loss through blight and dislocation, Peckham could see its growing Cultural Quarter being destroyed before it has had a proper chance to flourish.

Potential re-developments on the site are being prevented from happening as Southwark Council wants to keep the site ready just in case it is used as a Tram Depot. This is even though it is many years before the Cross River Tram can be given the go-ahead.

More information can be found from TfL, and the Cross River Partnership.

TfL's search for tram depot sites

The original decision to locate the tram depot in the heart of Peckham town centre was 'defective' according to the UDP Planning Inspector - see here for history of the decision. The council still decided that the site should be 'safeguarded' for the tram depot.

But, TfL (Transport for London) conceded in an internal report: "Ensuring that there is a sound, defensible, comprehensive basis to the selection of depot sites is fundamental to the Cross River Tram", and that there should be a: "Comprehensive site review … exploring potential sites over the entire Cross River Tram network area." Click here for report reference.

Peckham Vision has urged TfL to get on with this review to make sure the right depot site is found for the tram, and that it is really of benefit to the area around the site to be chosen. The depot does not have to be at the tram terminus. One of the sites TfL have on their list, as well as the heart of Peckham town centre, is a large industrial site off Ilderton Road, near the Old Kent Road. TfL have declined to release information on their depot site review.

Below are two maps showing routes to the possible depot at Ilderton Road, the first uses TfL's routes to connect to the depot, the second shows Peckham Vision's 'one-way loop'.

New tram depot sites found October 2008

Just before the Mayor stopped further tram planning, in October 2008, TfL had received a report (see summary at pages 5&6) showing that the Peckham town centre site was the wrong location for the tram depot. Thus Peckham Vision's call throughout the campaign, for a review of the flawed location investigation and report, had proved justified. The new report showed that Peckham town centre was at the bottom of a list of 6 sites investigated, and as a location failed for technical, operational and cost reasons as well as the detrimental effect on the town centre. Moreover the new report identified a suitable location elsewhere. So even when the tram becomes a live project again there will be no need to safeguard land in the town centre for the depot. In the April/May 2009 consultations the Council's Issues and Options paper included the alternative Options for the site, and began to consider for the first time the potential major contribution that site 63P/71P can make to the regeneration of Peckham Town Centre, and also to greater Peckham as a whole. This site is indeed a major Opportunity Site which needs to be considered as such in the PNAAP.

External links