Could TfL services be connected to a London borough’s new tram system?

A tram in Croydon in 2022. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A tram in Croydon in 2022. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A council in London plans to carry out a study into whether it can build a “north/south tram” across its area.

Havering Council said it is looking at the tram option as one of a few potential projects to boost the borough’s infrastructure and local economy.

Existing public transport in the area, particularly its rail and Tube links, mostly provides for east-west journeys either into central London or out towards Essex.

“We have been looking at this for years and now want to push forward with this,” council leader Ray Morgon said, who added that the borough had previously considered a monorail as a potential solution.

He said the borough is now looking at the tram option among other forms of light rail, or possibly a ‘rapid bus’ system.

While a precise route has not been detailed, the new link is being pitched by the council to run from Harold Wood through Romford and Upminster and on to the proposed railway station at Beam Park in Rainham – the location of a new housing development encompassing thousands of homes.

It has been suggested that the route could include connections with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and the proposed Essex-Kent Tram link, known as the KenEx Tram.

The council said it will look at ways to attract investment to pay for the scheme, and that it is particularly important to press ahead with the project as it could help support the East Havering Data Centre, a proposed research and development facility in the borough.

“We will announce the next steps once the study is finished,” said Mr Morgon.

“Whatever the outcome, a rapid north/south connection will bring prosperity and growth to the borough and improve the lives of Havering’s residents.”

Talk of the study comes as London mayor Sadiq Khan prepares to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover the whole of Greater London on August 29.

In tandem with the Ulez expansion, Mr Khan has committed to improving public transport in outer London, including through an orbital network of suburban bus routes called the Superloop.

None of the Superloop buses are currently proposed to pass through any part of Havering however – a point repeatedly raised by Conservative London Assembly Member Emma Best at City Hall meetings earlier this summer.

In June, she told deputy mayor for transport Seb Dance that people in the borough were being “completely screwed”.

Ms Best said: “The very fact that this Superloop is being proposed within the already existing ULEZ boundary, [linking] already well-connected stops, shows that you’ve completely misunderstood the need for public transport in outer London, and the reason that people have to rely on their cars.”

Mr Dance said in his reply: “I think you make a strong point for Superloop connections to Havering, and by the way, I think it’s not a question of this being the only orbital system that will ever be in place.

“This is the express service that the mayor is launching as a way of improving connections between town centres.

“I think it could be the genesis for more [orbital links], because I think it will show demand for town centre to town centre travel, which people will want to do by public transport.”

Transport for London (TfL) is consulting on the portion of the Superloop which comes closest to Havering, to be known as route SL2, until September 4.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said he is “dedicated to improving public transport in outer London” and is committed to working with Havering and other boroughs to improve their public transport offering.

“Recently this has included increasing frequency and capacity of bus services in Havering and TfL is working with the borough on its active travel strategy,” she said.

“But TfL needs a proper long-term funding deal secured with the government, and the mayor is calling on Havering to do all they can to support the mayor and TfL in making that case.”