Have your say on the Sutton Link: a major new public transport service for Sutton and Merton

Closes 6 Jan 2019

Opened 31 Oct 2018

Overview

We are consulting on proposals for a new, direct and quicker transport link between Sutton and Merton. We have called this the Sutton Link.

The Sutton Link would create a high-capacity route for people travelling between Sutton town centre and Merton using zero-emission vehicles. It would connect with other major transport services into central London and across south London, including National Rail, London Underground, existing tram and bus services. It would make journeys by public transport quicker and more attractive, and reduce the need for trips by private car.

Many of the neighbourhoods along the proposed routes have limited public transport options. The Sutton Link would support new homes being built and would improve access to jobs, services, major transport hubs and leisure opportunities across both boroughs and beyond.

Our work is at a stage where we would like to know your views about three potential routes. We are considering a tram or ‘bus rapid transit’ (BRT) for the Sutton Link and would also like to know your views on this.  

BRT is similar to a tram but runs on road segregated from traffic where possible, not on rails, and carries fewer people in each vehicle. A full explanation is included below in the section titled ‘About trams and bus rapid transit’.

Why is the Sutton Link needed?

The boroughs of Sutton and Merton have big plans to support their communities with new homes, jobs and improved town centres.

Depending which route is chosen, the Sutton Link aims to:

  • Open up transport options for communities that could include St Helier, Rosehill and north Sutton, which are not presently served by high-capacity public transport
  • Create or improve connections to other centres, which could include Wimbledon, South Wimbledon or Colliers Wood, with links to London Underground and National Rail services
  • Make it much easier to travel by public transport to key locations along the route, which could include several schools, the open spaces of Rosehill Park and Morden Hall Park, St Helier Hospital, and potentially the London Cancer Hub being planned for Belmont, via a future extension which would be enabled by the Sutton Link
  • Make the roads safer and more attractive for people walking, cycling and using public transport
  • Support the development of Sutton town centre, which is planned to create up to 5,000 homes and 2,000 new jobs by 2031, along with better public spaces and environments for walking and cycling
  • Support plans for Morden town centre, which aim to make it much more attractive for locals, workers and visitors to enjoy and to provide up to 1,800 new homes in the centre

At the moment parts of both boroughs have very limited public transport options and the Sutton Link would help enable the delivery of new homes and jobs in these areas.

About this consultation

This consultation outlines the three routes and two types of transport we have identified as the best options for the Sutton Link.

We would like to understand whether you support a new transport link being created between Sutton and Merton, your views on the three route options we are considering and your thoughts about whether a tram or BRT service would provide the best service.

Background

In 2014, the London Boroughs of Sutton and Merton, supported by TfL, held a public consultation on a proposed extension of the London Trams network from Wimbledon to Sutton town centre. The results demonstrated strong backing for the proposed tram extension with 84 per cent of over 10,000 respondents supporting it.

Building on this, the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has asked us to continue to explore opportunities for an extension of the London Trams network to Sutton. As part of this work we have also investigated a full range of alternatives that could bring similar benefits. As a result, both tram and Bus Rapid Transit are being considered for some routes.

As a result of the further work we are seeking your views on a wider range of options compared to the 2014 consultation so we can be sure we have identified the best option to meet the needs of the area. This will also give new residents and businesses who have moved to the area in the last four years an opportunity to provide their views.

Sutton Link, Healthy Streets and Vision Zero

Our city is facing an inactivity crisis and transport has a crucial role in the health of all Londoners. The Sutton Link would not just be a new type of zero-emission transport for the neighbourhoods it served; it would enable more active journeys, whether through walking, using public transport, cycling or a mix of all three.

The Mayor’s Transport Strategy uses the Healthy Streets approach, making people and their health the priority as we plan our city. We know that alongside these benefits, the things that make a street work well for people similarly make them work for businesses and improve the environment.

The Sutton Link would be planned from the outset to help achieve our Vision Zero aim to eliminate death and serious injury on London’s streets and transport network.

The three potential routes

We have been looking in detail at options for the best way to improve transport links between Sutton and Merton and beyond.

We investigated over 180 options, which we have narrowed down to three routes for the purposes of consultation. Two of the potential routes would run on-street, with the third mainly replacing an existing rail line. These are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Sutton Link route options

All of these options meet the main aims for the project; however there are differences in the areas they serve and in the pros and cons of each choice. These are explained in the route option pages below and described in more detail in the accompanying fact sheets.

Route Option 1 - South Wimbledon to Sutton town centre

Route Option 2 - Colliers Wood to Sutton town centre

Route Option 3 - Wimbledon to Sutton town centre

Route assessment

Based on the work carried out so far, we consider that either Option 1 or Option 2 best achieves the aims of the project. Option 3 is least effective at achieving the aims of the project by improving public transport in Merton and Sutton. It would also need to be closely coordinated with the proposed Crossrail 2 station in Wimbledon to minimise disruption to Wimbledon town centre. This may result in delaying the delivery of the Sutton Link project by several years to coincide with the Crossrail 2 construction programme.

This is an initial assessment only and our final decision will take into account the responses to this consultation and results of further studies and assessments.

About trams and bus rapid transit

Tram – suitable for all route options

The existing London Trams network is a quick, frequent, fully accessible and reliable tram service through central Croydon to Wimbledon in the west and Beckenham Junction, Elmers End and New Addington in the east. An extension of the network to Sutton would be operated to the same standards as the existing network, including passenger facilities and high quality, spacious vehicles. Trams are electric so passengers switching from cars to use trams could help address poor air quality along the route. We would purchase new trams to operate a Sutton extension, that would be compatible with the existing network. Additional depot facilities would also be needed to keep and maintain these new vehicles. We are assessing potential locations for providing additional depot facilities across the tram network.

Figure 5 – Example tram in use on the London Trams network

Figure 6 – Artist’s impression of tram on Throwley Way, Sutton town centre

Artist’s impression of tram on Throwley Way, Sutton town centre

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – suitable for route options 1 and 2 only

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can take many different forms, with a range of potential vehicles, passenger facilities and guidance systems. The possible BRT for the Sutton Link would be a ‘tram on rubber tyres’, with vehicles very different from the types currently used on the local bus network. It would be a modern, high quality system with the same level of separation from other traffic as a tram. Specially engineered BRT running lanes would be constructed so that BRT vehicles provide a smooth, comfortable ride. This would enable similarly fast journey times and overall capacity of service as a tram extension. Like trams, the BRT proposed for the Sutton Link would have platforms at stops to provide step-free access and stops would be further apart than standard bus stops. The vehicles would be zero emission so passengers switching from cars to use BRT services could help address poor air quality along the route. A new depot facility would be needed to keep and maintain the new BRT vehicles. We are assessing potential locations along the route of the Sutton Link for a new depot facility.

Figure 7 – Example BRT vehicle from Metz, France

Figure 8 – Artist’s impression of BRT vehicle on Throwley Way, Sutton town centre

Artist’s impression of BRT vehicle on Throwley Way, Sutton town centre

Tram and BRT comparison

Some elements of a tram and BRT service would be similar, but there are some key differences. Overall we would be looking to provide the same level of service, in terms of the number of passengers per hour each option could carry.

Similarities

  • Stop infrastructure, facilities and information for passengers
  • Level of separation from general traffic and priority at junctions with general traffic
  • Interchange provided with existing tram line
  • Quality of vehicles and smoothness of ride
  • Fully accessible to all users
  • Overall number of people carried each hour
  • Zero emission vehicles (electric or equivalent)

There are also some differences between tram and BRT options. These differences are mainly between the vehicles and the infrastructure necessary to operate them.

Differences

  • Each tram would be longer and would carry around 220 people, compared to around 120 on a BRT vehicle
  • Trams would come around every eight minutes in peak service, whereas the BRT would need to run more frequently at potentially every five minutes, because each vehicle can carry fewer passengers
  • BRT is expected to have a greater negative impact on traffic congestion because of the more frequent services
  • Trams would run on rails with overhead electric lines. BRT would run on a road surface, needing less fixed infrastructure
  • BRT may have less impact on utilities buried underground, reducing costs and disruption during construction
  • A BRT scheme could open sooner and may be easier to extend in the future
  • Constructing a tram route is more expensive initially, but the operating cost over the long term could be lower as fewer vehicles and drivers would be needed.

Further information on the comparison of the tram and BRT mode options is available in Factsheet No.4 – Bus Rapid Transit and Tram Comparison (PDF 722KB)

Costs

Both route options 1 and 2 are expected to have similar costs. If delivered as a tram the cost of these options is currently estimated to cost in the region of £425m, whereas BRT options for these routes are currently estimated to cost in the region of £275m.

Route option 3 could be delivered for a lower cost than other tram options and is currently estimated to cost in the region of £300m, but could only be delivered at a later date, potentially at the same time as Crossrail 2.

These estimated costs are in today’s prices and do not account for future inflation which would be incurred prior to completion. The estimates are based on initial feasibility work and for one potential alignment currently assumed for each option, which is likely to change as we investigate any chosen option in more detail. We will therefore have a much firmer idea on a cost estimate once this more detailed development has been undertaken.

The cost of operating and maintaining a BRT service is expected to be higher than for a tram service, particularly because more vehicles and drivers are required to provide the more frequent service required.

Additional information

The following reports and factsheets provide additional information to help you answer our consultation questions.

Background to Consultation Report (PDF 1.41MB)

Factsheet No.1 – Route Option 1 – South Wimbledon to Sutton town centre (PDF 457KB)

Factsheet No.2 – Route Option 2 – Colliers Wood to Sutton town centre (PDF 456KB)

Factsheet No.3 – Route Option 3 – Wimbledon to Sutton town centre (PDF 445KB)

Factsheet No.4 – Bus Rapid Transit and Tram comparison (PDF 722KB)

Factsheet No.5 – Morden town centre regeneration proposals (PDF 553KB)

Factsheet No.6 – Sutton town centre masterplan proposals (PDF 451KB)

Factsheet No.7 – London Cancer Hub and potential future extension of Sutton Link (PDF 445KB)

Sutton Link consultation poster (PDF 845KB)

Next steps

Following this public consultation we will analyse all responses received and publish a report.

The responses received will help us determine the most appropriate route and type of transport. We will then develop more detailed designs taking account of any local needs, issues and opportunities. We will also publish a report responding to the key issues raised and to explain how we have taken into account your views in the development of the Sutton Link project.

Following the selection of a preferred route and confirmation that the Sutton Link will be progressed as a tram or BRT project, we expect to consult again in 2019, seeking views on the further design work. This will allow comments to be provided on the proposed designs before they are completed and submitted as part of any application for planning permission and other consents anticipated to be submitted in 2020. The planning consent process may vary depending on which option is chosen. But whichever process is used, local people will have the opportunity to participate in the process and present their views.

The earliest date that construction could start is in 2022 with services commencing not sooner than 2025.

Have your say

We would like to know what you think about our proposals.

Please give us your views by completing the online survey below by Sunday 6 January 2019.

Alternatively, you can:

  • email us at [email protected]
  • or write to us at FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS using 'Sutton Link' as the subject

You can also request paper copies of all the consultation materials and a response form by emailing [email protected], or writing to FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS.

Please also contact us if you require copies of our consultation plans in Braille, large text or another language, using the contact information above.

Public exhibitions

We are also holding public exhibitions in Merton and Sutton. Come and meet us to find out more about our proposals and have your say. Please see events section below for further details.

Have your say

Events

Areas

  • Merton
  • Sutton

Audiences

  • Anyone from any background

Interests

  • Buses
  • Trams