An independent review of overground and underground transport options for the Greater Cambridge area has been given the green light by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and the Greater Cambridge Partnership.
The study will independently assess a range of options and their impact and viability for supporting economic growth, improving accessibility and connectivity, and addressing current congestion and delay in and around the city.
The transport modes to be considered in the review include light rail, monorail, bus rapid transit, affordable very rapid transport (AVRT) as well as any others to be put forward by the chosen consultant.
Known as the Strategic Options Appraisal, the £150k cost of the review will be shared 50/50 by the two organisations.
Cllr Charles Roberts, the Combined Authority portfolio holder for Transport, said: “This is an incredibly important piece of work and one that must be done thoroughly; the future growth and prosperity of our region will rely on effective and efficient transport, whether this is rail or wheel, overground or underground."
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Vice Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board and Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “Our partnership and the Mayor share the same commitment and obligation to work together to assess the potential to add underground and/or overground transport systems that will deliver world-class public transport across Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and out to future growth centres across Cambridgeshire and into neighbouring counties too.
“This study will allow us to better understand what will really deliver benefit, and provide a sound evidence-base for what is the optimum mix of future solutions that are feasible, deliverable and, importantly, ‘fundable’ going forward.
Chair of the Partnership, Cllr Francis Burkitt for South Cambridgeshire District Council, added: “We will work together, including with Network Rail, Highways England and the National Infrastructure Commission, and with the fresh countywide transport leadership the Mayor is adding, to secure on national commitments to help us solve intransigent transport headaches.”
Mayor James Palmer said: “Greater Cambridge is of huge economic significance to the UK, and it is vital that we improve accessibility and connectivity to boost growth and prosperity whilst addressing the congestion and delays which face local people on a daily basis.
“We are hopeful that the review will help us achieve the highest possible modal shift from car journeys. We will work closely with the Greater Cambridge Partnership to investigate the options thoroughly and only rule them out or in based on legitimate research and evidence.”
Cllr Herbert added: “We are all committed to delivering rapid access public transport routes to and from Cambridge. To accommodate growth it is vital current proposals, including plans for better bus journeys from Cambourne to Cambridge, continue to be developed. We will ensure current schemes are future-proofed so that they also work for new solutions as they emerge.”
The outcome of the study will be the first part in understanding the viability of other options.
Mayor Palmer said: “Whilst work continues on transport options across the County, the greatest public benefit will be realised in developing strategic transport solutions joining up the work of the various partners.”
The next stage in the Cambourne to Cambridge better journey scheme will be to agree in September to consult on route options and Park & Ride, with a timeline for a final decision not due until June 2018 when the outcome of the study is known.
The strategic Options Appraisal is due to be published in November.