It's green for go at Tramlink
by Maheesha Kottegoda
Croydon Tramlink is no more.
Instead, any reference to Croydon has been dropped in favour of the name London Tramlink.
And at the same time the traditionally red carriages are being painted green.
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The re-branding has met with sadness as the town's unique tram system, long hailed as a part of Croydon's identity, becomes lost in Transport for London (TfL).
The £2m makeover comes seven months after TfL's £100m buyout from Tramtrack Croydon, in March.
While the much-needed investment is being welcomed, tram lovers and officials are overwhelmingly against renaming the network.
Croydon Council leader, Councillor Mike Fisher, said: "It is a great shame.
"One of the things that is unique to Croydon is the tram system.
"We were the first London borough to adopt it and Croydon is synonymous with having red trams."
Croydon Business chief executive, Brian Stapleton, agreed.
He said: "I am pleased they are investing money in refurbishing the trams but I would have preferred the name to remain because the tram is something iconic for Croydon.
"In terms of the colour, I'm colour blind so someone will have to tell me when a green tram goes by."
Former Croydon engineer and tram enthusiast, Andy Barber, was one of the few in favour of both changes and couldn't understand why tram lovers were against them.
He said a poll on social networking site, Yahoo Groups, revealed enthusiasts were 11-4 against the move.
"The London Borough of Croydon is part of London so London Tramlink is fine.
"As for the colour, it is not a bus it is a tram and the nice bright green looks better but the interior doesn't look right," Mr Barber added.
London Tramlink showcased the first of its newly refurbished fleet in a VIP trip to East Croydon and back on Monday (Oct 6) following a private reception at its Coomber Way Depot in Beddington.
The fleet of 24 trams are to be deep-cleaned and refurbished at the rate of one each week until spring 2009.
A TfL spokesman explained the refurbishments were urgently required since the trams had not been touched since 1999 while re-branding brought the network into the "TfL family".
A spokesman said: "It has a high visibility in an urban environment, is accessible (for visually impaired people) and easier to maintain.
"Green also distinguishes the Tram from other TfL buses operating in the area.
"The green is being designed in a pattern that is similar to both Tubes and London Overground trains."