Trams are just one of the many ways to travel across the capital and they form a key part of the London transport network.
History of London’s trams
The first trams were introduced to the city in 1860 when a horse tramway ran along Westminister’s Victoria Street.
By 1870, there were a number of services officially in place covering:-
Blackheath to Vauxhall via Peckham and Camberwell
Brixton joining the Camberwell line at Kennington
Whitechapel to Bow
Kensington to Oxford Street
However, despite growing in popularity, many of the routes were replaced by London Underground services and buses and the trams ceased operating by the summer of 1952.
New generation of trams
Trams were reintroduced to London in 2000 with the opening of Tramlink. The London tram network runs from Wimbledon through Croydon to Beckenham, where it has proven a popular mode of transport. In fact, it is the third-busiest light rail network in the UK behind the Tyne and Wear Metro and the London’s Docklands Light Railway.
There are now a total of four routes offered by London’s tramlink. Route 1 runs from Elmers End to Croydon, route 2 from Beckenham Junction to Croydon and route 3 from New Addington to Wimbledon. In June 2012, route 4 from Therapia Lane to Elmers End was added and extended in April 2014 from Therapia Lane to Wimbledon.
All access to trams is step-free. There is no need to use ramps or any other special features to board. Additionally, all tram travel is free for wheelchair users, irrespective of whether or not they hold a Freedom Pass.
If you are planning to use London’s trams during your stay in the capital then you need to make sure you get an Oyster card as it will be the easiest way to pay for your journey.
The pre-paid travelcard allows anyone to make use of the city’s extensive network of trams, as well as Tube, National Rail, bus and river bus services without too much hassle. It also means you will only ever been charged the best fare for your day’s travel.
If you haven’t heard of any Oyster Card then you should be aware that it is a little reusable plastic card that can be loaded with credit and allows you to travel around the city’s public transport network without having to use cash to buy physical tickets.
You can purchase an Oyster card for a small deposit and then you just need to put the card close of one of the many terminals across the city to be able to get on the tram, or other forms of London transport.
The use of the cards has played a key part in reducing congestion to the major transport hubs and many of London’s buses are already completely cashless so the Oyster Card is a must.
Oyster cards were introduced over a decade ago and they have transformed how residents, commuters and travellers access London transport. Add in that they allow for plus discounted fares, they are great for those holidaying on a budget in the capital.
Maximum daily fees apply to minimise costs for people who make multiple journeys throughout the day. Once you reach the daily fare cap, there are no further charges for travel on that day.
You can purchase an Oyster Card from most London tram stations or ticket stops during normal hours. You can add credit when you purchase the card, using a debit/credit card or cash. They also come in a special wallet so you can protect the card and it makes it easier to swipe at the relevant terminal spots – you don’t need to remove it from the wallet to do so.
There is also the option to purchase an Oyster Card via the internet before you arrive in London. So if you prefer to be organised, head to the Transport for London website and follow the Get an Oyster Card link. The card can then be posted directly to your address – if you sign up to an online account, it is also possible to top-up the card via the internet.
Nowadays the tram network has 28 km of track, 39 stops and 34 trams running on the lines. In 2015./16, some 27 million passengers used the service and links seven mainline stations and over 50 bus routes.