The development of the A428 Cambourne to Cambridge transport corridor can now move forward at pace after the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Board agreed to a series of findings from a review which will see it transform from an original guided busway scheme into the first phase of a wider Cambridgeshire Metro system.
The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer, and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) Chair, Councillor Lewis Herbert, welcomed the decision, which will see both the Combined Authority and the GCP working closely together to deliver the scheme and which will provide critical connections in the corridor between Cambourne and Cambridge.
Officers at both the Combined Authority, the GCP, assisted by consultants Steer and Arup, have worked closely, through a joint officer programme board, to review the route and identify the best solution for the transport corridor and how best to accelerate its delivery.
Among those key findings presented to the Combined Authority Board on Wednesday (October 31) were that the route would be reclassified as a CAM Metro route, and not a busway, and that the vehicle operating along the route would be a rubber-tyred, electric powered vehicle. It also found that the route must align and integrate with the overarching metro network and be connected to the tunnelled part of the system, delivering a high frequency, reliable and pollution-free public transport option into Cambridge centre and the rest of the metro network.
Mayor James Palmer said:"In May the Combined Authority board published a Mayoral transport statement in order to ensure full alignment between proposals being developed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) for an off-road busway between Cambourne and Cambridge and the Combined Authority's emerging CAM Metro proposals.
"I'm glad that having engaged in very constructive discussions with the GCP over the past few months we're now in a position to provide an update on our proposals. Our plans are now aligned and from now on our focus will be on coordinating our efforts, resources and talents to ensure that a CAM system is delivered as soon as practically possible.
"I welcome the fact that the GCP's plans for an off-road route between Cambourne and Cambridge will now form the first phase of an accelerated programme to deliver the CAM Metro. This will no longer be an independent guided bus way corridor and the route will be served by an electrically powered, environmentally sound vehicle.
"A key concern for me from the start has been to ensure two things, firstly that any system that can be delivered within reasonable timescales to ensure that today's challenges and pressures are met, secondly I've also been keen to ensure that any system is sufficiently ambitious to ensure that we're able to deal with the additional pressures that will be placed upon our transport infrastructure as a result of the further growth that we anticipate Cambridgeshire will witness over the coming years. I'm confident that the approach that the Combined Authority and the GCP have agreed together will ensure that both needs are met.
"I've been vocal before regarding the concerns that have been raised with me by local residents in relation to the impact that any scheme might have upon the West Fields. I specifically requested that Arup investigate this as part of their report. I'm glad that the final report agrees with my view that rerouting around the West Fields would be preferable. I appreciate that this has been a source of concern for many local residents and I'm keen that there are a number of mitigation measures to ensure that Coton is not negatively impacted.
"This is an extremely exciting time for Cambridgeshire. This first phase of the CAM will integrate in within a wider network and a tunnelled section meaning that the people of Cambridgeshire will have access to a world class public transport system."
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board and Leader of Cambridge City Council said:
“We welcome confirmation that GCP is on the right course with plans and the Mayor’s shared drive for collaborative working, sharing resources and accelerating efforts going forward.
Arup’s report provides further evidence in support of substantial and ongoing review and assessment by GCP’s project team to design and deliver an optimal route, providing residents and travellers west of Cambridge with the high quality future public transport route they need.
I’m also glad to see both sets of Combined Authority consultants being clear that the right choice for the planned CAM Metro is using tyres, as it’s the only way to make it economic for radial routes out of Cambridge routes across an area with a dispersed population.”
After significant work to plan Phase 1, the Madingley Mulch Roundabout to Cambridge section of the route, the GCP’s own route assessment and public consultation responses will be reviewed by the Board in December. Assessment and planning of a full end-to-end route will be ongoing as focus broadens to incorporate the route continuing to Cambourne. A complete Cambourne to Cambridge route, as part of the wider CAM network, will be presented to GCP’s Board for final decision in an Outline Business Case, later in 2019.”
Of the route options for the Cambourne to Cambridge scheme, the A428 report by Arup found that option ‘A’ offers the most optimal solution, balancing programme, planning and environmental constraints. The final decision on the route for the scheme will be taken by the GCP Board. Key to the route will be a solution that delivers significantly reduced journey times, which would make it a more attractive transport option than the private car.
One of the advantages of a ‘trackless’ rubber-tyred solution for the metro, the report found, was that it mitigated against concerns around air and noise pollution, as well as ease of access.
Metro stations would be designed as transport hubs, into which other modes of transport, like buses, cycling and walking, would serve, reducing use of the private car, and further reducing congestion and pollution.
The Metro is designed to tackle congestion in and around Cambridge, opening up more of its economy to more people, while also facilitating urgently needed homes growth and job creation. In May, Mayor James Palmer called for a pause in the GCP’s new busway proposals to allow time to see how they would align with the emerging plans for the metro.
The Strategic Outline Business Case for the CAM Metro, prepared by consultants Steer, is scheduled to be presented to the Combined Authority Board at their January meeting and will give broader details on the extent and reach of the metro, as well as costs and sources of funding. The document will also cover elements including the strategic and economic case for the metro, how GCP transport corridors will integrate with the system, and the frequency of service the network could achieve at full operating capacity.