1. Introduction. This is a proposal for an integrated network of buses and trains on the corridor between East Anglia and the Midlands. It is designed to achieve the following objectives:
1.1. To create fast and direct links between East Anglia and the Midlands that will undercut existing times by rail and bus at an affordable price and thereby provide a real alternative to the car.
1.2. To form part of a strategy for reducing traffic on the A14 and thereby avoiding the need for expensive and environmentally damaging increases in road capacity.
1.3. To form part of a strategy for reducing rural car dependence by providing a high quality public transport service for villages on the A14 corridor.
This proposal is produced by Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk. This is the branch of Transport 2000, the national environmental transport campaign, covering Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough) and the immediately adjoining parts of Suffolk.
2. Outline. The nucleus of the proposal is an hourly bus service, which we call the A14 Express, between Haverhill and Rugby via Cambridge, Huntingdon and Kettering. These would provide the following connections (which have been stated in the form appropriate to westbound travellers):
2.1. At Haverhill, from Kedington, Sudbury, Ipswich, Hedingham, Halstead and Colchester.
2.2. At Linton, to/from Saffron Walden and Audley End station.
2.3. At Cambridge (bus and rail stations), from Newmarket, Kennett, Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Ipswich and Stansted Airport; also to London.
2.4. At Huntingdon, to/from Peterborough and beyond.
2.5. At Thrapston, from Peterborough and Oundle, and to Rushden, Wellingborough and Northampton.
2.6. At Kettering, to/from Corby, to Leicester and beyond, also to Northampton and from Peterborough and Oundle.
2.7. At Rugby, to Coventry, Birmingham International and New St stations and beyond, also, from a ``coachway'' interchange outside the town, to motorway coaches serving all parts of the Midlands and North.
This bus service would aspire to ``rail'' standards of service, These might include off-bus and conductor ticketing (to avoid boarding delays -- one person operation would apply only at slack times), accommodation for wheelchairs and bicycles by a centre entrance, and provision of shelters, printed timetables (or, better still, real time information) and secure cycle parking at bus stops, which would be provided not only at the main locations mentioned above but also at points on the A14 which would be linked to nearby villages by safe walking and cycling routes.
3. Financing. The number of cars along the A14 suggests that there is a heavy demand for travel along this corridor, so we feel justified in assuming that a service which provided for relevant travel needs would have no difficulty in recovering its operating costs in the medium term. However funding would be needed to cover the capital costs of setting up the service and the pump priming costs of running it while patronage was building up. We believe that these costs could be covered by a partnership arrangement. Possible partners include:
3.1. Cambridgeshire County Council. Their Rural Transport Partnership Fund proposals include more buses between Haverhill and Cambridge, which could form part of the A14 Express service. Their bid for Rural Transport Challenge money (not accepted for 1999) includes the concept of ``mini-interchanges'', i.e., high quality bus stops which incorporate many of the features mentioned above; furthermore they have mentioned the Cambridge-Haverhill and Cambridge-Huntingdon corridors specifically as likely candidates for this treatment. Our proposals would also cover park & ride sites both east and west of Cambridge, and thereby fit in with this aspect of their transport strategy.
3.2. Suffolk County Council. Their ``Project 200'' Rural Transport Challenge bid (not accepted for 1999) is for an upgrade of their existing supported bus route 200, which links Newmarket, Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Brandon and Thetford, including an extension to Cambridge.
3.3. Northamptonshire County Council. These proposals would improve access to many villages within the county, from Titchmarsh to Welford. (Note: the network would also bring benefits to some other counties, including Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Essex.)
3.4. Alconbury Developments Limited (ADL). This is the company proposing to redevelop the site of the air base at Alconbury for a freight distribution centre. Their proposals were rejected by Hunts District Council on 17 February 1999 but are likely to go to appeal. They have promised to support a ``Quality Bus Network'' which includes hourly buses between Huntingdon and Kettering, which could be incorporated into the A14 Express network; we hope that if redevelopment of the airfield rakes another form a similar network would be provided.
3.5. Stagecoach group. Stagecoach subsidiaries cover the whole area between Haverhill and Rugby, so that they would be well placed to operate the service. Also, Stagecoach have recently acquired an interest in Virgin Rail who operate Inter-City trains from Rugby; and they have expressed an interest in the ADL Quality Bus Network (see 3.4).
3.6. National Express group. The A14 Express could be advertised as a feeder to the National Express coach network via our proposed Rugby Coachway. National Express also operate trains from Rugby to Birmingham, on the Midland Main Line through Kettering, and between Cambridge and Stansted Airport, and they are also responsible for the rail-link coach between Kettering and Corby.
3.7. Anglia Railways. They operate the trains between Cambridge, Kennett and Ipswich that would form part of the connectional network.
3.8. WAGN Railways. They provide connections from Cambridge to London and Huntingdon to Peterborough. (Note: we would like to add GNER who could provide direct rail links from Huntingdon to the North. At present their trains do not stop at Huntingdon, but we believe that connections with the A14 Express would make such stops viable, especially in conjunction with the proposals of Section 6.2.)
3.9. Highways Agency. They are responsible for developing schemes to improve management of the A14. They have recently published their preferred scheme for upgrading the A14 between Brampton and Thrapston to provide grade separation (which we henceforth denote by BTGS), and are planning corridor studies for other sections of the route; our proposals could be incorporated in whatever changes they decide to make. We hope that following its Transport White Paper the Government will extend the remit of Highways Agency financing to include schemes such as the A14 Express which would provide alternatives to trunk road widening.
4. Existing services on the corridor. Half hourly between Kedington, Haverhill, Linton and Cambridge (Stagecoach Cambus 113, which makes several detours off the main route). 1-2 hourly between Haverhill and Sudbury (Beestons 236). Hourly between Sudbury and Ipswich (First Eastern Counties 90/91). Half hourly between Colchester and Halstead (First Eastern National 88), with hourly connections to Castle Hedingham, extended occasionally to Haverhill (Hedingham & District 89).
Between Cambridge and Huntingdon, buses are frequent via St Ives, but direct buses are 2 hourly (Stagecoach United Counties X51). West of Huntingdon the only regular services along the corridor are local services near the towns; a 2 hourly service between Thrapston and Kettering (Stagecoach United Counties 16); and 1-2 journeys per day whose only stops between Cambridge and Coventry are Huntingdon and Kettering (National Express 314). Until recently a thrice daily service linked Cambridge, Rugby and Worcester (Cambridge Coach Services 71).
Trains from Rugby run half hourly to Birmingham (National Express Silverlink) and irregularly to the North-West (Inter-City Virgin). Kettering will be served half hourly from May 1999 (National Express Midland Main Line). Huntingdon has half hourly trains to Peterborough (WAGN). From Cambridge trains run hourly to Stansted Airport (National Express Central Trains), half hourly to London (WAGN) and approximately 2 hourly to Ipswich (Anglia), with extra trains serving the route east of Kennett (and not all stopping there) which run to/from Peterborough.
The following bus services are 2 hourly: Cambridge-Bury St Edmunds via Newmarket (Stagecoach Cambus X11, temporarily diverted away from Kentford, near Kennett, by a weight restriction); Newmarket-Thetford via Kennett, Mildenhall, Lakenheath and Brandon (First Eastern Counties 200, under contract to Suffolk County Council); Peterborough-Northampton via Oundle, Corby and Kettering, with extra buses south of Corby (Stagecoach United Counties X65); and Thrapston to Raunds connecting for Northampton (Stagecoach United Counties 16/X94). The route between Peterborough and Huntingdon has hourly express and local services (Stagecoach United Counties X1/X51 and Viscount 351 respectively).
5. List of principal stops. Let us follow a bus running westwards along the route. Note that some of the stops may be omitted at times when they are satisfactorily covered by other services, and other stops (mainly within urban areas) may be added at slack periods when alternative services are few. We envisage that demand would be concentrated at the major stops, so that most journeys would not need to observe more than a minority of the stops listed.
5.1. Haverhill bus station. The eastern terminus unless buses run through from further afield. Connections or through running from the local town network, from Kedington (with buses possibly coming through from Bury St Edmunds or Clare), Clare, Sudbury and Ipswich; also, at 2 hourly intervals, from the Hedinghams, Halstead and Colchester.
5.2. Horseheath village. We have included this stop so that the extra buses between Haverhill and Cambridge recently added by Cambs CC could run not as route 113 (the existing route through Horseheath) but as route 136 (via Bartlow and the Camps).
5.3. Linton village. Here A14 Express and/or 136 passengers would connect with new service 29 to Saffron Walden and Audley End station, running via either Bartlow or Ashdon or Hadstock and Little Walden. This replaces existing 29 (Linton-Saffron Walden, market days only) and also 59 (Haverhill to Saffron Walden and Audley End via the Camps and Ashdon). The 29 would run hourly on weekdays (evenings included) and 2 hourly on Sundays (continuing to Elsenham and Bishops Stortford replacing existing Essex CC supported services 504 and 512). It would give Haverhill people a more regular link to the railhead at Audley End, and also provide a new faster route between Saffron Walden and Cambridge.
5.4 and 5.5. Hildersham and Little Abington turns.
5.6. Four Went Ways Park & Ride. We are proposing this site from which buses would run via the planned Babraham Rd site (see 5.9) to the City Centre. It would also be served by National Express coaches on the A11 corridor to London, and also their Speedlink 747 from Norwich and Newmarket to the London airport system, which would make additional stops here and at Mildenhall and Six Mile Bottom.
5.7 and 5.8. Babraham turn and Wandlebury Country Park.
5.9. Babraham Rd Park & Ride. Passengers change for Cambus 4 to Stapleford and Sawston.
5.10. Addenbrookes Hospital. Passengers change for Cambus 5A to Newmarket Rd Park & Ride site, which we would like to see incorporated in a circular route also serving the Madingley Rd site. This would also serve Trumpington, Grantchester, Barton Rd (M11/A603 interchange, for connections to villages on this corridor), Cherry Hinton (Robin Hood), and Fulbourn Tesco's (for Fulbourn Hospital).
5.11. Cambridge, Hills Rd 6th Form College.
5.12. Cambridge Rail Station. Passengers from Stansted Airport and Ipswich trains board here, including people who had joined at Kennett off connecting buses from Lakenheath and Mildenhall. Passengers also leave the bus here for trains to London. Many other rail connections are also possible.
5.13. Cambridge, Hyde Park Corner.
5.14. Cambridge Bus Station. The most important bus connections available here are from the proposed 200 extension from Thetford via Brandon, Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Kennett and Newmarket, connecting at Kennett with trains from Ipswich to Peterborough. There will also be connecting buses from Stansted Airport (Cambridge Coach Services 75/79).
5.15 and 5.16. Cambridge, Histon Rd Corner and Girton Corner.
5.17. Cambridge Crematorium. At present this can only be accessed by westbound buses, but we would like to see either a bridge over the A14 or a guided busway parallel to the A14 on the south side, which would give access to/from the Crematorium for both westbound and eastbound travellers. For the latter, see Section 6.4.
5.18. Oakington Turn.
5.19. Bar Hill Park & Ride. This is a site we are proposing near the existing A14 Bar Hill flyover. Passengers wishing to access eastbound buses would have to cross over the existing road bridge (unless these buses went over the flyover to access the guided busway mentioned above). However, the park & ride site would have plenty of alternative existing services (Whippet 1A and 5, Stagecoach Cambus 155 and 156) to Cambridge. Passengers from Longstanton and Willingham arriving by route 155 join here.
5.20. Lolworth Turn. Again, at present this can only be accessed by westbound buses, and we are not proposing a bridge here because Lolworth people have alternative access to the public transport network by means of the footpath to Bar Hill village (which can be upgraded).
5.21. Trinity Foot. This would serve Boxworth and Boxworth End (Swavesey), and provide interchange for passengers from Swavesey, Over and Willingham arriving by route 156.
5.22. Fen Drayton and Conington turns. Here a new bridge is essential to give people from these two villages access to/from buses in both directions. (However, in the case of Fen Drayton, we believe that the village should be served directly by part of the existing ``slow'' Cambridge to Huntingdon service, diverting from its present route between Trinity Foot and Fenstanton.)
5.23. Fenstanton Park & Ride. This is a site we are proposing near the existing A14 flyover at the east end of the village. This could be accessed from several Whippet routes, including journeys terminating at the company's nearby depot.
5.24. Fenstanton Clock Tower.
5.25. Galley Hill junction. Here passengers could join various Whippet buses, including services starting at the nearby depot. Connections to/from St Ives would be available here or at Fenstanton Clock Tower. We would support changes in the road layout which would improve conditions for users.
5.26. Hemingford Grey turn. An existing bridge means that villagers can get access to/from westbound as well as eastbound buses.
5.27. Godmanchester. In the longer term this stop could be eliminated under our Huntingdon Tunnel proposals (see Section 6.5).
5.28. Huntingdon Town Centre. Under the present layout, westbound buses would call at the bus station, but eastbound buses would use an alternative stop on the ring road to avoid having to go twice round the one-way system. We would support proposals to change the town's road layout or to relocate the bus station which would get round this. The town centre stop would offer interchange in both directions to/from Peterborough, St Ives and other destinations.
5.29. Huntingdon Station. Change for trains to/from Peterborough (and hopefully beyond, see 3.8).
5.30. Hinchingbrooke Turn. Serves the local hospital, school and country park.
5.31. Brampton Village. Interchange with local buses towards St Neots.
5.32. Brampton Hut. Possible interchange with shuttle for Alconbury (see Section 6.1).
5.33. Ellington turn. Bus stops accessed from existing bridge.
5.34. Easton turn. BTGS includes several options for a bridge in this area, and our preferred option is as near as possible to Easton village to minimise the distance needed to access eastbound buses.
5.35. Footpath to Spaldwick village. A new bridge would be needed to minimise distance between the village and eastbound buses. As this village is relatively important (housing the local primary school, for example) we believe the extra spending is justifiable.
5.36. Leighton Bromswold turn. BTGS includes the necessary bridge.
5.37. Footpath to Catworth. We propose a new bridge linked with existing footpaths to reduce the walking distance.
5.38. Brington turn (B660). Bus stops accessed from existing bridge.
5.39. Footpath to Molesworth. BTGS includes the necessary bridge.
5.40. Bythorn/Keyston footpath. Bus stops accessed from existing accommodation bridge.
5.41. Road to Titchmarsh. We propose a new road bridge at Denford Road without access to the A14 but with access to bus stops thereon.
5.42. Thrapston. 2 hourly connections from Peterborough and Oundle, and to Raunds, Rushden, Wellingborough and Northampton, with a new ``Nene Valley Express'' extending existing Stagecoach United Counties X94 and replacing part of their route 16 (see Section 4).
5.43. Islip turn.
5.44. Road to Woodford. Bus stops accessed from existing bridge.
5.45. Footpath to Cranford. We propose a new bridge to give access for westbound buses.
5.46. Wicksteed Park. Possible connection for Wellingborough.
5.47. Kettering station. Connects with trains from Bedford and to Leicester, also to/from Corby rail-link bus.
5.48. Kettering Hospital. Connects with Stagecoach United Counties X65 (2 hourly) from Peterborough and Oundle to Northampton.
5.49. Rothwell turn. Bus stops accessed from existing bridge. Connections from Market Harborough (Stagecoach United Counties 19, 2 hourly).
5.50, 5.51 and 5.52. Road to Harrington, Kelmarsh turn (A508) and Road to Naseby. Bus stops accessed from existing bridges.
5.53. Footpath to Cold Ashby. New bridge needed.
5.54. Road to Welford. Bus stops accessed from existing bridge.
5.55. Bridge over Grand Union Canal. Serves Jurassic Way long distance footpath.
5.56. Road to Clay Coton and Stanford. Bus stops accessed from existing bridge.
5.57. Swinford and Catthorpe turn. Accessed from west end of A14. But see next paragraph.
5.58. Rugby Coachway. Passengers change here for National Express coaches on the M6 and M1 (north) corridors. There would also be connections with local buses and coaches to the South Coast using the A34 corridor. There are three possible locations. Option 1 uses a site near M6 Junction 1, but this would involve a significant time penalty for coaches to/from the M1 north. Option 2, near the M1/M6 junction and replacing stop 5.59, would require new slip roads so that coaches to/from the M1 south could serve the coachway. Such slip roads are under consideration and we would in principle support a scheme compatible with such a coachway interchange. Option 3 uses a site near where the M6 crosses the A5, and would require a new junction; this option would offer an opportunity to connect with the proposed Central Railway between London and the East Midlands.
5.59 and 5.60. Newton and Clifton. Under Option 1 these stops would be replaced by one at Brownsover. Under Option 2 the Newton stop would not be within the village.
5.61. Rugby station. Connects with trains to Birmingham (serving Coventry and Birmingham International) and the North-West.
5.62. Rugby town centre. Connects with buses to Southam, Leamington and other points.
6. Relations with other schemes. We believe that it should be an essential feature of integrated transport planning that the relations between different schemes are examined thoroughly. We therefore go through various proposals, including some of our own, that would impact on the A14 Express proposals.
6.1. Alconbury development. As stated earlier ADL are proposing a Quality Bus network associated with their scheme to develop the airfield into a freight distribution centre. They have proposed the following hourly bus routes to/from Huntingdon and Alconbury: Kettering, Cambridge (via St Ives), Peterborough (express), Bedford (via St Neots), Wisbech (via Chatteris and March) and Ramsey circular (via Sawtry and Warboys). We propose to vary the network as follows:
6.1.1. Incorporate the Kettering route, and a faster service from Cambridge, into the A14 Express.
6.1.2. No change to the Peterborough and Bedford routes, which together make up existing route X1.
6.1.3. Minor route changes to the Wisbech service to include Warboys and March station.
6.1.4. Replace the western side of the proposed Ramsey circle with existing 351 serving local villages to Peterborough, with diversion via Holme instead of Stilton (which would be served by an improved Peterborough local service).
6.1.5. Replace the eastern side of the proposed Ramsey circle with a route through the depot to a new railway station at Abbots Ripton, continuing via Wennington, the Raveleys and Upwood to Ramsey. This would be timed to provide a fast rail connection from Ramsey to London.
6.1.6. New route from Alconbury and Huntingdon to St Ives, Earith, Sutton (connects X55/X56) and Ely, replacing existing 157 (St Ives-Earith section) and 355 (Sutton-Ely). The remainder of the 157, together with existing 330/331 and part of 196, would be replaced by a new 2 hourly route between Peterborough and Cambridge via Ramsey, Warboys, Somersham, Earith (connecting with the above), Willingham, Cottenham, Waterbeach station (for trains to/from London) and Fen Ditton.
6.1.7. New route from Cambridge via Papworth, possibly serving villages on B1046 corridor.
6.1.8. Peak hour services from West Hunts villages, coordinated with existing services to local schools.
As it stands the A14 Express would not provide a link to Alconbury. There are three options for introducing such a link:
(a) Divert the A14 Express via Alconbury between Huntingdon and Ellington Turn, replacing stops 5.30 and 5.31. Under this proposal stop 5.32 would not be necessary, though other stops might be added.
(b) Split the A14 Express into two parts, connecting at Huntingdon, and extend each section to Alconbury. Again stop 5.32 would not be necessary.
(c) Run a shuttle service to/from Alconbury connecting with the A14 Express at Brampton Hut. This is the option we have been assuming.
6.2. St Ives line reopening. This would only impact on the A14 Express if the line was extended to run through to Huntingdon, where it might link up with the proposed east-west rail link to Bedford, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Swindon. Under such circumstances there would be a clear call for Inter-City rail links at Huntingdon, and we believe it would be negligent not to provide fast line platforms at Huntingdon while the station was being remodelled to accommodate the St Ives line. We would also envisage an hourly train service between Ipswich and Huntingdon, together with withdrawal of the existing service via Ely to Peterborough. This means that:
A: Passengers from the Ipswich direction to Kettering etc. would join the A14 Express at Huntingdon station, not Cambridge.
B: Passengers from Lakenheath and Mildenhall would change to rail at Kennett (or possibly Newmarket) and the 200 extension to Cambridge would not form part of the A14 Express network.
6.3. Central Railway. This would open up an opportunity for a combined parkway and coachway station on the former Great Central main line near where it crosses the M6 and A5. This is option 3 of 5.58.
6.4. Cambridge Guided Bus. We believe there is a strong case for a busway from Cambridge to Bar Hill and the planned new settlement at Cambourne, which would alleviate congestion problems on both the A14 and A428 west of Cambridge, without having to widen either route.
This would run south of the A14 between the Girton interchange and Bar Hill, thence by a greenfield route to Bourn Airfield and Cambourne. We are suggesting a guided busway to avoid the environmental problems that a road -- even a busway -- would bring. There would also be provision for buses to/from the Northern Fringe (Cambridge Regional College, Science Park etc.) and possibly the University Corridor south of Madingley Road.
Under this proposal the A14 Express would use the guideways east of Bar Hill, thus providing access to Cambridge Crematorium for eastbound travellers without the need for a bridge over the A14.
6.5. Huntingdon Tunnel. This idea is designed to serve the following purposes:
(a) To remove car traffic approaching Huntingdon from the A14 (east) from Godmanchester.
(b) To provide more room for the railway development proposals of 6.2.
(c) To reduce traffic noise levels in the Huntingdon area.
(d) To reclaim a walking route across Views Common in Huntingdon currently bisected by the A14.
Our proposal involves building a tunnel whose eastern portal would be between the existing Godmanchester (A1198) junction and Town Bridge, and whose western portal would be between the Railway Station and Spittals Interchange (A141). The existing road between these points would be reduced to single carriageway south of a point near the railway station, where a new access would be provided to/from Brampton Road. The rest of the route would disappear completely.
Under this proposal Town Bridge would be closed to all motor traffic except buses (which would be provided with transponders to activate the traffic lights at the ring road junction). Motorists between Godmanchester and Huntingdon would have to use the new route via Brampton Road.
Under this proposal the A14 Express could serve a new pair of bus stops on the existing A14, close to the bus station and to the footpath to Godmanchester. This would replace stops 5.27 and 5.28. The Rail station (5.29) would, of course, continue to be served.
7. Conclusion. We believe that we have devised a viable scheme for a high quality bus service on a key inter-urban corridor. There are of course many ways in which our proposals could be varied. Furthermore there is room to develop them incrementally, so that the scheme could start with only minimal infrastructure work and develop later. We hope that this document will help stimulate a full discussion of public transport options for the A14 corridor, in which our proposals will figure.