Exclusive: End of an era as Croydon's last red tram turns green
by Neil Millard
END OF AN ERA: The last red tram next to one of the green ones this week
One of Croydon's most iconic symbols disappeared this week as the last red tram turned green.
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Ever since the trams hit our streets again in 2000 the borough has become synonymous with the red juggernauts patrolling the town centre.
While some will be sad to see an end to the traditional livery, Tramlink operations director Steve Duckering insists it is a positive change.
"It's been nice driving them when they were red and it's been nice driving them when they're green," he said.
"The only thing is they do now look a lot cleaner. They look like they did 10 years ago."
The job of giving the last tram - number 2545 - its new look did not involve any paint.
The red colouration was actually a vinyl skin which was gradually sanded off this week before a new green self-adhesive skin was effectively stuck on.
Transport for London's (TfL's) head of London trams, Phil Hewitt said: "Green has been chosen as a vibrant and distinctive colour which will stand out in a busy urban environment for tram stops as well as the trams themselves.
"We want to give trams their own distinct identity and roundel (transport logo) colour within the TfL family of transport modes and establish them firmly in the public eye as part of the wider integrated London transport network."
The network's 23 other trams had already gone green since TfL took over the network last June.
Regular tram user Kathleen Dineen, 61, from Shirley, is among those commuters who doesn't mind the change.
She said: "It doesn't really matter to me as long as they run on time.
"Other things aren't red any more these days - the phone boxes and pillar boxes. Everything has changed."
But Charlie McTavish, 67, from Stanley Road, Thornton Heath, thinks the red trams were a symbol of Croydon.
He said: "People do say 'oh you're from Croydon, that's where they have the trams'.
"When they think of Croydon they think of red trams."
TfL has so far invested around £2 million on trams and trams stops - which includes giving them their new distinctive green livery.
Since October, 23 of the trams have been deep cleaned inside and out and given new seats.
All 39 stops have been spruced up with more deep cleaning carried out and broken equipment replaced.
TfL plans to spend £24 million over the next six years continuing to improve the network and increasing capacity.
Mr Hewitt said "This first phase of improvements was a fast, high impact way of demonstrating TfL's commitment to invest in the system.
"Over the coming years we will be investing heavily in the infrastructure which is less visual but even more important.
"We hope TfL's investment will make London Tramlink the world-class system its passengers deserve."
*The Advertiser is given a driver's eye view of the tram network. See page 26.