Cambridgeshire is one step closer to having an autonomous metro system now that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have given the go ahead for the next stage of development at today's Board meeting.
In July 2017, the Combined Authority Board approved the commissioning of a strategic options assessment to investigate potential mass rapid transit solutions. This study was concluded and as a result, the Board had been asked to approve £600,000 to develop a strategic outline business case and an options appraisal report for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro proposal.
On the outcome of the Board decision, Mayor James Palmer said:
"I'm delighted the Board is able to support this agenda item as Mayor. The Metro option, which includes tunnelling backed by the Strategic Options Assessment report is an exciting option and would transform the region's public transportation. The benefits of this scheme would extend beyond just Greater Cambridge.
"Since my election I have been consistent in calling for a public transport offering that includes tunnelling and facilitates the significant growth that the region is due to experience over the next decade.
"The need for a bold public transport solution is now and it's vital that we approach the task of delivering the Metro with a degree of urgency. The Strategic Options Assessment report states that it's possible for parts of the Metro, sections that aren't reliant upon tunnelling to be in operation by 2021. This needs to be one of the key aims. Clearly tunnelling is more complex and we will have to wait a bit longer for the core section to be completed but we still need to be ambitious to deliver as soon as we possibly can.
"Cambridge is a dynamic world class City and it's about time that it had a dynamic world class public transport system to serve it.
"This outcome of the Board meeting today enables us to progress to the next stage in developing the Strategic Outline Business Case and Options Appraisal. Just one step of many before this project can delivered but a significant moment nonetheless.
"As the body responsible for Strategic Transport decisions across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the Combined Authority will take the leading role in developing proposals. I think it's important for people to realise that this project is in many ways a public transport solution not just for Cambridge but for Cambridgeshire. As well as Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and East Cambridgeshire will also experience the transformational benefits that the Metro will bring forward. All of these areas have a strong voice within the Combined Authority Board.
"My view is that Land Value Capture should play a key role in funding CAM. Only the Combined Authority is able to lead on this.
"The report itself (Strategic Options Assessment report), commissioned jointly by the Combined Authority and the Greater Cambridge Partnership states clearly that CAM will be owned and managed by the Combined Authority."
It is proposed that the finance for the strategic outline business case be funded from the Combined Authority’s £74m allocation from the Transforming Cities Fund.
On the management of CAM, the Strategic Options Assessment report states that the CAM would be developed as 'private infrastructure', owned and managed by the Combined Authority, and that the Combined Authority would have control over quality and service aspects, but could be operated by a third party.
John Clark, Portfolio Holder for Transport for the CPCA added: “Our ambition is to deliver world-class public transport across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the city region and future growth centres as well as into neighbouring counties. We are committed to improving accessibility and connectivity to boost growth and prosperity whilst also addressing the congestion and delays that face residents and visitors to the area.”
A further paper will be brought to the Board in the Autumn focusing on the timing and nature of a potential public consultation. This will provide detailed findings and important information to inform preferred route alignments and enable the completion of the Outline Business Case.