Tramlink serves Croydon town centre by way of a loop through the streets. The loop is is single track, with trams running in the clockwise direction only. The loop is designed so that trams from Beckenham Junction and New Addington in the east can return without reversing. Trams to and from Wimbledon join the loop and run through to Elmers End (and New Addington at certain times)—trams from Wimbledon run over the northern side of the loop while trams to Wimbledon use the southern side.
The loop takes in West Croydon station, as well as three other town centre stops. All trams over the loop also call at East Croydon, which serves trams in both directions.
This page also covers the short stretch from East Croydon to Sandilands.
Starting at East Croydon, where there is a stop with three platforms (enabling trams from the east to turn without travelling into the town centre if necessary) and heading west into the town centre, trams travel along George Street. The road at this point is wide enough that trams run on reserved track on one half of the road, while road traffic in both directions uses the other.
After a short distance there is a traffic light-controlled junction over Wellesley Road. This is where the loop begins—the inward track along George Street parts company with the outbound track, which runs along Wellesley Road to the right. The other side of the junction, George Street narrows to a single lane, which the trams share with other road traffic. The first stop is named George Street.
George Street is a busy shopping area. As well as the shops here, the stop serves the nearby Whitgift and Drummond shopping centres, and is the most central of the tram stops in Croydon. From here the tram lie continues along George Street, past the historic Whitgift Almshouses and onto a short section of pedestrianised street down Crown Hill. At the bottom is Church Street, along which trams run to Church Street stop.
Immediately after Church Street is the Reeves Corner junction, where the Wimbledon line leaves the loop. Trams may continue straight on at this junction for Wimbledon, or turn right onto Tamworth Road to stay on the loop. The pointwork is a short distance away from the road junction, to avoid having a point mechanism in the middle of a busy road, which necessitates a short section of interlaced track.
The track from Wimbledon joins the a few yards further on, on Tamworth Road. Halfway up there is a new stop (opened December 2005), originally to be called Tamworth Road but now named Centrale after the shopping centre it serves. At the top of Tamworth the single track crosses London Road to reach Station Road and West Croydon, where there is a tram stop next to the railway and bus stations.
Shortly after East Croydon the tramway turns right onto Wellesley Road. Wellesley Road is a wide dual carriageway, and the tramway runs along the central reservation between Croydon's office blocks. The line crosses over the the side of the road for Wellesley Road stop.
Through traffic continues under George Street by underpass, but trams bear left here, then turn left onto George Street to met up once again with the inbound line. This is the end of the loop—trams continue from here through East Croydon again and onto the eastern branches.
All trams heading out of the town centre from East Croydon proceed along Addiscombe Road past the NLA Tower, an unlovely concrete office block which is the first thing many visitors to Croydon see. Halfway down Addiscombe Road, which trams share with other road traffic, are the staggered platforms of Lebanon Road stop. A little further on there is a traffic light-controlled junction where Chepstow Road joins Addiscombe Road, which trams traverse to reach a section of paved reserved track alongside Addiscombe Road. Sandilands stop is at the side of the road, the last stop served by all trams. From here the line crosses Woodbury Close, and then drop down into the cutting on the former Woodside–Selsdon railway line. There is a junction here where Beckenham and Elmers End line trams turn left and New Addington line trams turn right, each heading in a different direction along the former railway alignment.
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