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Challenge launches to find cutting edge conceptual designs for trailblazing CAM scheme

13 October 2020

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James Palmer

A challenge to the market to create innovative conceptual designs which could inform and transform the delivery of the groundbreaking Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) has now gone live.

Potential suppliers can now enter the first phase of a tender process, launched by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, which is casting the net as widely as possible to find technologies, innovations, designs, operational systems and commercial ideas which could shape the future of what CAM will look like and how it will operate.

The aim for CAM is to build a world class public transport network serving Cambridge and the wider region for decades to come, which sustains and boosts economic growth, creates jobs and supports new housing.

Mayor James Palmer said bold new ideas and technologies which provide the solution for CAM could also be a launchpad for the future of public transport in other small cities and regions globally.

Participation from any organisation capable of development of a conceptual design for CAM is welcomed, and to widen the opportunities to participate, consortiums are also welcomed, enabling businesses, academics and other experts with certain fields of expertise to join with others to provide an in-the-round CAM solution. 

The Conceptual Design Process has begun with a Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ), which suppliers or consortiums are required to submit by November 4, 2020.

The scope of the design challenge includes:

The CAM vehicle: What a proposed autonomous metro vehicle could look like, including considerations around guidance, operating systems and how it can be futureproofed against rapidly changing technology.

CAM infrastructure: What infrastructure the vehicle would run on, including the IT system and recommended approaches for their design, build, operation, safety assurance and maintenance. 

Operations: How the CAM will run, and what the customer experience should be like. 

Commercial relationships: Creative opportunities for revenue streams which will support the funding of the CAM. 

The environment: Ensuring CAM is world leading in protecting the environment.

A series of procurement stages will result in three conceptual designs submitted in March 2021. The designs are not required to be the conclusive delivery solution for CAM, but will inform and even transform how the scheme develops further. They will help identify opportunities for innovative approaches, support the development of a business case, and build interest from suppliers more widely who at some stage may want to bid on future phases of CAM work.

Mayor James Palmer said:

“I’m excited to see this process get underway. We are opening CAM up to the brightest and best to tell us the designs and technologies which can make this transport system world leading.

“CAM is about bold, radical thinking; pushing the boundaries of what is possible, but also with a sharp-eyed focus on delivery. We are testing the market to conceptualise a solution which could shape the future of mobility not just for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, but for similar-sized cities and regions globally. 

“Our region has a reputation for innovation and new ideas. From academia, to research and development and to our clusters of tech-driven business – exciting breakthroughs happen in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This is exactly the place to develop something truly groundbreaking.” 

Those passing the SSQ stage will receive invitations to tender, which will identify, by early December 2020, three top scoring tenderers who will be awarded contracts to develop the conceptual designs in full. Three sequenced milestones – ‘stage gate’ reviews – will follow, ensuring the best possible designs are delivered by the target date of March 2021.

The Mayoral Combined Authority will also establish an arrangement to retain access to those successful suppliers for the purposes of further engagement regarding their proposed conceptual designs for CAM.  

Alongside this, work to develop the CAM continues. The Combined Authority has set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV), called One CAM Ltd, which will be the delivery body for the programme. This establishment of the SPV is ongoing, beginning with the appointment of Lord Mair, Robert Mair CBE, as board chair, a renowned civil engineer who is one of the world’s foremost experts on tunnelling.

Suppliers wishing to find out more and enter the SSQ phase, should go to the procurement advert.