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S.J. Parascandolo


The Elmers End and Beckenham Junction Branches

Driver Eye Views

All Pictures © S.J.Parascandolo and are taken from the passenger saloon


Approaching the A232 bridge from Addiscombe
Bingham Road LC and Addiscombe Stop beyond
Blackhorse Lane bridge and tram stop
The site of Woodside Junction from a Croydon bound tram
Woodside tram stop
Arena Junction
Elmers End Cripple Siding
Elmers End
Country Park Central LC from a Croydon bound tram
Harrington Road stop from a Croydon bound tram
Tramlink leaves the Railtrack formation near Love Lane
Approaching Birkbeck stop from a Croydon bound tram
Approaching Avenue Road stop from a Croydon bound tram
Beckenham Road stop looking to Croydon
A Eurostar service overtakes a Beckenham bound tram
Squeezing past a cottage in Rectory Road to enter Beckenham Junction
Approaching the terminus at Beckenham Junction

Trams travel from Sandilands Junction along the disused BR Woodside Selsdon line that closed in 1983. The route passes under the main A232 and heads behind houses towards Addiscombe. The old line used to be on embankment here, crossing Bingham Road and the main Addiscombe Road on low bridges. On the Sandilands side of Bingham Road, was the station at Bingham Road.

It was not called Addiscombe as this already existed as a terminus further down the road towards Croydon. The bridges were removed soon after the closure of the line to allow high busses and lorries to pass. Tramlink were unable to reinstate them as it would restrict the road and a raised stop would be difficult for access for the disabled, elderly and pushchairs. This has caused Tramlink to remove 1000s of tonnes of earth and bring it down to ground level for level crossings over both roads. Between Bingham Road and Addiscombe Road is the new Addiscombe tram stop. The line obviously has to drop down to road height on each side. The result is one of Tramlink's most convenient and spacious stops set between two level crossings.

After crossing Addiscombe Road, the trams continue along the old alignment towards Woodside passing the emergency trailing crossover as it climbs back up to the original alignment. At Tevan Close a new housing estate had to be partially demolished as it was occupying the old route. The line passes under Blackhorse Lane and between here and the old Woodside Junction is the new Blackhorse Lane Tramstop.

To permit disabled access in the form of a ramp, large amounts of earth have been moved and this blocks the now closed alignment to Addiscombe (Railtrack). Tramlink replaces this route with a through one to Croydon via Sandilands and Addiscombe (Railtrack) has now been demolished for a housing development. It closed on 31st May 1997 and like the Wimbledon West Croydon line, the last train was the Connex LILO Railtour.

From Blackhorse Road tramstop, trams continue under Stroud Road footbridge to Woodside. The old platforms have been demolished but the station building retained. The original steps to road level on the old Up or Outbound side have been refurbished but the station building remains disused. Access to the Inbound platform is via the new ramp beside the station next to the new Sub Station.

From Woodside to Arena, the old track has been used although new ballast has been added. Arena is at the edge of South Norwood Country Park and next to a local sports arena. A footbridge used to stand at this point but it has been removed and will be replaced by a foot crossing at the tramstop. A short distance after the tramstop is Arena Junction, a double lead-facing junction. Taking the Straight route that is continuing on the old alignment towards Elmers End, the double track becomes single after a short distance.

The single line continues to the Railtrack boundary fence where there is a hand operated facing point for the Cripple Siding. This is for use in case of a failure although it has only every been used during testing. The line then continues and rises up into the Bay platform on the up side of the Hayes-London Line. The connection onto the Hayes line was completely severed in 1998 and replaced with plain track.

In order to maintain a level connection at Elmers End, the track rises so that the existing Railtrack platform can be used. The same has been done at Wimbledon although at Elmers End, it has been achieved with ballast. Two trams can be fitted into the platform at Elmers End but the signalling has now been altered and no longer allows it. Interestingly as a result of Railtrack being awkward the Tramlink ticket machines are located outside the station in the Car Park which is unhelpful to people making connections from trains. Also unhelpful are the poor connections with local buses, the state of the station and the lack of a Park and Ride facility. All of these would be desirable and feasible at this location.

Returning to Arena Junction, the Beckenham Branch curves sharply to the left and climbs a steep slope on a new alignment around South Norwood Country Park. This is a surprisingly quiet and desolate place considering its location. The route towards Harrington Road Tramstop that is situated at the rear entrance to Beckenham Crematorium is very rural in places and features some sweeping sharp curves.

This section is ideal for photography especially due to the totally unfenced route. Fences are not required because this is a tramway and not a railway. Climbing steeply through Harrington Road tramstop, the route goes into single track and curves sharply to the right around the Love Lane curve to reach the Railtrack Crystal Palace Beckenham Junction line a few hundred yards the London side of Birkbeck.

This curve caused many problems during construction as tampers couldn't get round it. It took several attempts to get the curve less like a 50 pence piece and to eliminate the kinks. Both routes are on a high embankment at this point. The tramway takes up the southern side of the railway formation. Originally a double track railway, it was singled as part of the Victoria Area Resignalling in the mid 1980s. As it was, the Railway used the northern (Down) line from Bromley Junction (for Norwood) to the Beckenham side of Birkbeck before switching to the southern (Up) line for the remaining section to the Bay platform 1 at Beckenham Junction. Tramlink has forced the Railtrack line to use the northern side throughout. This change was made during the summer of 1998.

The tramway runs parallel into Birkbeck station which until recently was a very derelict and run-down station with burnt out buildings - It has now been refurbished into the bright blue and yellow colours of Connex. Birkbeck tram stop is opposite but due to the electrified 3rd rail and the nature of heavy rail, fences are provided between the lines and the only interchange is at street level.

The route continues to Avenue Road where a footbridge joins two residential roads either side of the line. The cutting has been widened to allow room for a loop on Tramlink and two platforms on the tram tracks only. Access is via a ramp from the South side.

The tramway returns to single track under the footbridge and continues towards Beckenham with a Tramstop at Beckenham Road where it crosses the main road from Beckenham to Penge. This is only a few minutes walk from Clock House on the Mid Kent Line to Hayes and Kent House on the South Eastern mainline from Bromley to Victoria. The embankment has been widened for the stop and the essential disabled access path. Beyond the stop is another loop.

This is the only one on the system where the RTS request from the tram to the signalling system for the next single line section is done on the move and automatically.

The South Eastern mainline from Herne Hill joins on the left and the tramline becomes the most southerly of four lines as they cross the Mid-Kent line and continues to Beckenham Junction. Currently the mainline is used by Eurostar services en route from London Waterloo International to the continent. It is possible for trams to be overtaken by them. Trams pass Blakney Road Sub Station which caused difficulty during construction due to a legal argument and on towards Beckenham Junction.

The retaining wall at the edge of Rectory Road has been moved back to allow room for the line to run along side the bay platform 1 and the route squeezes past an old cottage. The owners refused to loose any land and as a result, clearances are very tight. The route then goes behind some buildings and rises into what used to be the bus stop at Road level.

The car park has been reconstructed to allow buses to stop close to the station entrance with Tramlink terminating in a two platform stop at one side of the car park. The platform has been modified since it was first built as the first tram to arrive on test struck the platform edge as it attempted to enter the northern platform. One day the line may be extended beyond Beckenham to Shortlands and Bromley but this would be a very long term wish.


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