Our proximity to London and in particular the mere fact that we can be in central London within 16 minutes is testament to our connectivity. Croydon has one of the busiest train stations in the country with over 23 million entering or exiting the station in 2018.
Each day, more than 1,700 trains carrying 300,000 passengers on the Brighton Main Line pass through the ‘Selhurst triangle’ making Croydon one of the busiest parts of Britain’s rail network. Network Rail project passenger journeys through East Croydon will reach 90m by the early 2030s.
London Trams began its operation in Croydon 2000, the first tram system in London since 1952. With 39 stops and 17 miles of track, Trams for London carried 28.7 million passengers in 2018-2019 demonstrating its value and significance to south London.
That’s not all. Gatwick is 17 minutes away on public transport and with direct services from East Croydon train station and if you fancy a jaunt to Brighton, you can be there just as easily in 40 minutes.
To remain competitive, we must strive for better, invest and consider what further improvements will set Croydon apart from its counterparts across London. The regeneration of the borough is well underway and as such we must now be considering what further, welcome improvements can be made to what already exists.
Recently, I attended a transport summit at the invitation of Sarah Jones MP, Lord Adonis, Cllr Tony Newman and representatives from Transport for London and the Croydon Partnership, the organisation responsible for the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre. The main purpose of the meeting was to review and discuss the re-zoning of Croydon from zone 5 to zone 4.
First presented in 2014, there is now growing support for the reclassification of Croydon’s two main stations as zone 4-5. The proposal, first suggested in 2014, referees to the success of the more recent reclassification of Stratford from Zone 3 to Zone 2/3.
In 2015, Stratford had 61.4 million entries and exits from the station. The following year, as the reclassification was confirmed, entries and exits rose by 10% to 67 million. This increase, as some may say, paid for the reduction in fares payable by commuters as zones are reclassified.
So what is the likely effect of a zone change in Croydon and do we support it. Personally and on behalf of Croydon BID, we back the campaign to reclassify Croydon zone 4/5.
Representing the business community, it is a simple decision. In reclassifying the zones and bringing us ‘closer to London’, Croydon is more attractive to investors, businesses and those looking to live in and around south London. For me the impact of such a decision is unquantifiable and in particular the impact and legacy this would leave for the town centre.
In becoming zone 4/5, Croydon has a far stronger case in not only recruiting new businesses to the area but also retaining our current stock. As a result, the demand for Croydon as a location for commercial, retail and leisure space increases, ensuring that, as a place, we have a strong mix across all our sectors.
Our connectivity has in my view been a double edged sword. With multiple routes into the borough, it has never been easier to get here. In the same breath, it has also never been easier to leave and commute. I know it only too well. I commute two hours each way daily.
So in reclassifying the zone to 4/5, we have the opportunity to not only attract more businesses and their staff but also retain a percentage of the workforce that currently commutes to other locations across the south east and capital.
Investment in to our transport infrastructure continues with the Croydon bottleneck where there is no capacity to run more trains to cope with forecast growth in demand on the line, leading to even more overcrowding in the years ahead unless action is taken. Investment into East Croydon train station and its future expansion, more reliable services and greater capacity will see East Croydon train station to increase its passenger numbers in and out of the centre.
Sarah Jones MP for Central Croydon, said: “South London is really the place where we need to unlock the potential for all the people that live here. The potential economic shift would be huge. For the big businesses looking at where to invest, for the people that live here and travel into London to work, zone 4 is an absolute no-brainier.”
The benefits of reclassifying Croydon zone 4/5 at a time of such regeneration, growth and development is the final piece of the jigsaw and as a result Croydon BID firmly supports the move. Join with us by expressing your support, as we push for better in Croydon. This is not political, it is simple logic and an opportunity we must do all we can to achieve.