A SECOND tram line could be created in the town centre as part of authorities' efforts to boost public transport capacity ahead before major town centre redevelopment. Getting more travellers out of cars and on to feet, bikes, trams and other public transport is part of Croydon Council's plan as it readies for long-term development including the Westfield/ Hammerson shopping centre and thousands of new homes, with the borough's good transport links much prized by developers. Jo Negrini, the council's director of development and environment, says the pending redevelopment is of "Olympic 2012" proportions "which will transform and repopulate Croydon's town centre and create thousands of jobs", and that the council was working with Network Rail and TfL, among others, to make sure transport could cope. She said the town centre had previously been remodelled around car access, but that relying on the car for short trips could lead to "environmental, economic and health problems," continuing: "Consequently, we are working to ensure that walking and cycling become real and practical choices for those shorter journeys, and that Tramlink and other public transport modes continue to improve as a means of catering for the longer journeys." "Under consideration for the tram is the possibility of a new stretch of line in Dingwall Road. It would start at the existing line at the junction of Dingwall Road and George Street, and connect to the existing line in Wellesley Road, via Sydenham Road or Lansdowne Road," a council spokesman said. Vehicle traffic at many town centre spots has actually declined in recent years, a trend of declining car use Ms Negrini said was fanning out from inner London, but which might also be a sign of the economic decline in the borough she is trying to reverse. With a likely increase in traffic in mind, therefore, the council and TfL are also working on improving the Purley Cross, Fiveways, Lombard Roundabout and Thornton Heath Pond junctions to improve traffic flow along the A23. Separately, West Croydon bus station is getting a revamp and the council is trying to get more carriages on trains stopping at East Croydon. Ms Negrini said the council was working on a five-year plan to manage the planned retail, office and residential growth with developers Westfield and Hammerson, adding: "Crucially, it will commit the council and its funding partners and delivery partners to interlocking resources, projects, decision making and timescales which, together, will ensure the success of the programme and the continued success of the town centre." Councillor Kathy Bee, Croydon's new cabinet member for transport, said getting transport right was "vital" to the success of the redevelopment. She added that the relevant authorities had "thought very carefully" about managing the transport consequences of growth. She continued: "The developer of the Whitgift Shopping Centre is keen to improve the transport links and has committed to significant funding, in particular to enhance the Tramlink and bus systems, and the Wellesley Road corridor. "I am confident that Croydon will soon be one of London's most attractive retail destinations, with good access by public and private transport. "Equally importantly, it will be a much better place for pedestrians and cyclists." Croydon cycling campaigner Kristian Gregory said he wanted an environment "where women, children and the elderly all feel quite comfortable cycling." He added: "For example, in the Netherlands there are protected cycle tracks and the people that do the most cycling there are the women and the elderly." New shadow cabinet member for transport Vidhi Mohan said he would be "keeping a close eye" on the Labour administration's transport plans.
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