Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk

Newsletter 54, Aug 1996

Disclaimer: the contents of articles do not necessarily reflect Transport 2000 policy at either national or branch level. If you know any reason why any opinion expressed on a matter within the branch's remit should not be branch policy, please contact the Secretary -- it is through the exchange of ideas that methods for solving our problems are developed.

12 billion pounds down the drain

According to the September issue of ``Modern Railways'', a civil servant valued the assets of BR in 1990 as the equivalent of GBP 13-20 billion in today's money. Current estimates are that the Treasury will net a little over GBP 4 billion when the sale is complete. Where has the money -- probably over GBP 200 for each and every person in this country -- gone?

The explanation given in Modern Railways is that it is a ``distress sale'', i.e. the Government is in a hurry to raise money for pre-election tax cuts. One may also speculate that they aren't too concerned if their political friends get millions. But there's a third explanation: that the valuation was of an integrated railway network, and smashing up the family silver reduces its value. If so, the huge premiums obtained by Porterbrook shareholders on acquisition by Stagecoach merely reflects the potential gain to the new owners of our railway assets from reintegrating the system.

In any case, rail privatisation represents a misuse of power of truly staggering proportions. Local councillors who did anything like this would be surcharged, bankrupted, and banned from office for many reincarnations to come.

But don't build up hopes that these moves towards ``integration'' will benefit passengers, at least not quickly. There'll always be room for anomalies and absurdities as long as ticketing and timetabling are partly controlled by more than one company whose duty to the public is solely based on commercial expediency.

Other Rail News.

The Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF) has published draft passenger requirements for the West Anglia & Great Northern (WAGN) franchise that covers most trains in Cambs. As with previous franchises, they uniformly fall short of the existing timetable (on which they are ``based''). Here are the main deficiencies.

  1. No fast trains required between Cambridge and London -- only the one semi-fast and two slow trains that currently link Cambridge with Kings Cross and Liverpool St.
  2. Late night trains from London not required.
  3. First train to Kings Lynn is not required.
  4. All requirements stated in terms of London times -- what about those who commute to Cambridge, Peterborough, Kings Lynn etc.?
  5. Operators must cooperate with others in arranging connections, but how isn't spelt out. And no requirements at all for connections between WAGN trains.
  6. Liverpool St trains not required to stop at Tottenham.
  7. Facilities financed by local authorities, such as the Sunday stopping service between Cambridge and Letchworth, are excluded from the requirement. Perhaps this is understandable, but there need to be safeguards against operators holding local authorities to ransom when contracts are renegotiated.

Our reply to OPRAF mentioned the above plus some improvements. We suggested that if not included in the requirements OPRAF should still circulate them to operators as desiderata and say that operators' willingness to meet them would be taken into account in determining the tender. Here are some of our proposals.

  1. 2 trains per hour on Liverpool St line south of Cambridge, tickets valid via Stansted Airport.
  2. Stansted Express trains to stop at Bps Stortford whenever required for interchange to/from Cambridge direction; also there or at Harlow or Broxbourne for interchange with stopping trains between Cambridge and London.
  3. Operators to be required to consult with bus operators and local authorities on bus connections. We gave a list most of which should be familiar to readers.
  4. Rail tickets to be valid on alternative bus services which passengers may be required to use for any reason, including station or line closures on Sundays or bank holidays.
  5. If passengers face significant out of pocket costs as a result of delays, these should be refunded.
  6. Specifications for last trains arriving in London should disregard any that miss the last tubes.
  7. Regular services between Finsbury Park and Moorgate (when the Barbican Centre is open) and between Tottenham and Stratford.
  8. Connections from last southbound Inter-City to Cambridge, Huntingdon and St Neots. May include bus link, and the rail portion may be operated by any of WAGN, Inter-City East Coast or Central Trains.

The fact that operators may be allowed to impose significant cuts does not, of course, mean that they will do so. What it does mean is more insidious. Up to now the guiding principle behind train timetabling has been that BR would provide as good a service as it could within available resources. Now operators have absolutely no incentive, other than the strictly commercial, to provide more than the minimum requirements.

Meanwhile the threat to our ticketing system, mentioned in previous newsletters, remains. Rather than summarise the situation here, we refer readers to Barry Doe's column in ``Modern Railways'' (August issue in particular).

Branch news.

The Secretary will be away from end Sept till Christmas; correspondence may be directed to the Administrative officer (address and phone number above), or to the Secretary at [internet users please email -- webmaster].

If you haven't renewed, you should have a renewal slip. This includes some hitherto classified as National Supporters but whose payment to T2000 HQ is under GBP24, so we don't get the kickback that we regard as equivalent to a membership fee. Please note we may not send you any further reminder, and if possible let us have your subscription before 21 Sept, when we present our financial statement to our meeting. If you can't renew till after the 27th, send the form to the Administrative Officer, not the Secretary. Meanwhile, a diary of events.

10 Sept: Quakers in Bury plan an introductory Real World meeting (see last newsletter), probably on this date. If you wish to attend please contact the Secretary as soon as possible.

14 Sept: Regional meeting of Alarm UK (the anti-roads campaign to which we are affiliated), 10.00 to 4.00 in St Barnabas Church, Mill Road, Cambridge. If you wish to attend please contact the Secretary as soon as possible.

21 Sept: Branch meeting in the Main Hall of the Bath House (Mill Rd/Gwydir St) at 4.30. We plan to present our annual and financial reports, and to discuss a new constitution broadly following the model supplied by T2000 HQ.

15 Oct: We have been invited to a regional planning conference in Peterborough. Any local member wishing to represent us there please contact the Secretary as soon as possible. (Our Chairman will represent us at a similar meeting in Cambridge on the 18th.)

16 Nov: T2000 national AGM in London. This may be followed by a conference. Members wishing to attend please contact one of the Committee. We may also have a branch meeting late Oct or early Nov, place, date and time to be arranged.

We are also hoping to arrange a Real World meeting, possibly in January, in conjunction with other member organisations. Contact Suzon Forscey-Moore (01223 327634) for details.

Last time we invited members to contact the Chairman for details of how they could help our work. We were disappointed at the lack of response. Remember that our effectiveness depends on your participation.

National news.

However little attention the Government pays to transport campaigners, it is prepared to honour them. Transport 2000 director Stephen Joseph was given an OBE. And last year Caroline Cahm of the National Federation of Bus Users (to which we're affiliated) got an MBE, and this year former Vice-Chair Faith Lawson, currently chair of the Pedestrians' Association, also got one. Come on activists, next time ``it might be you...''.

In mid August Transport 2000 launched its Streets for People initiative. This aimed to show what we'd lost over the years by letting cars take over our streets. A street in Leeds was grassed over temporarily and became a space for children's play and other community use. Of course, in Cambridge we have many ``green streets'' (though not where they are perhaps most needed, adjacent to family dwellings), but too many have been shut off in the drive to control tourists.

Here is a summary of Transport 2000's campaign priorities.

  1. Cut traffic by 10% by 2010.
  2. Switch funding from road building and bridge strengthening to investment in rail, bus priority, walking and cycling.
  3. Reverse the fragmentation of buses and trains, and make them cheaper and more reliable.
  4. Abolish company car perks and parks and give incentives to set up green commuter plans.
  5. Ban juggernauts from sensitive areas, crack down on poor maintenance, switch freight to rail.
  6. Set up partnerships to cut car trips to schools, hospitals etc., plus shop delivery services.
  7. Promote walking and cycling.
  8. Enforce speed limits of 20 mph in urban areas and 55 mph elsewhere.
  9. Reduce the need to travel by locating homes and essential facilities close to one another.
  10. Consult people about transport decisions including road schemes.

Rail studies and Northern Fringe.

Recently consultants Steer Davies Gleave (SDG) suggested the St Ives line should become a guided busway. Several aspects of the study worry us:

  1. The study was commissioned by the Government regional office, but the report said conventional rail was ineligible for Government funding. If so (i.e. if there's no prospect of Section 56 funding for rail reopening) then surely the Government is prejudging the issue.
  2. SDG were consultants for the East-West rail link study on behalf of local authorities in our region. Their credibility would surely have been impaired had they opted for the St Ives route for the rail link while supporting a guided busway in the Government study. Is this why they chose what we believe is a far worse route, especially for Cambs people?
  3. The report we received made no mention of alternative options, such as upgrading existing buses, or providing (guided) busways on other routes, e.g. from Histon to the Cambridge Northern Fringe, and/or linking the proposed Cambourne new settlement, Bar Hill, Cambridge centre and the northern fringe. Such schemes could be financed by abandoning or scaling down road projects such as the proposed A428 widening.

Without impugning the integrity of SDG we ask whether a full investigation into transport options for the area might have come up with an entirely different answer. Here are three reasons why we believe rail is best for the St Ives line. We often criticise the County Council but are pleased to record that they too plumped for rail (before the SDG report was published).

  1. Rail would cater for north-south movements across the city, e.g. from northern villages to Addenbrookes (and interchange for London etc.) and from southern villages to the Science Park. Motorists wouldn't have to drive through Cambridge to catch trains to London.
  2. If the line was extended to Huntingdon, there would be potential for savings by rerouting trains that now run via March. To put it another way, no extra trains would be required to run services to Wisbech and between Ely and Newmarket.
  3. Rail has a proven ability to get people out of their cars. Guided buses don't.

New stations.

The council has rejected a proposal to reopen Harston, largely because of the increased costs of extra stops on a line with a mixture of fast and slow trains. To our mind the station should be part of any strategy for the A10 corridor south of Cambridge, in conjunction with park & ride (both bus and rail) at Foxton. Soham is being pursued, but as a stand-alone proposal rather than in conjunction with upgrading the Cambridge to Newmarket line (including restoring the curve to Soham and Ely). We believe a sure way to strangle public transport development is to consider proposals piecemeal rather than as part of an overall plan. Cherry Hinton has now reached the design stage, but net benefits will be small because of the poor service on the Cambridge to Ipswich line.

We have replied to the consultation on the future of the Northern Fringe. This presents various options for redeveloping the Chesterton Sidings area together with a smaller area near the Histon A14 roundabout. Our comments were that:

  1. Large scale shopping is unacceptable without adequate safeguards for city centre stores, and control of car parking to give users an incentive to use other modes of access.
  2. The proposed Cambridge Parkway station on the Ely line should also serve the St Ives line, and the road layout should be remodelled to provide an interchange for buses serving northern and eastern suburbs of Cambridge.
  3. Any major traffic generating development should be located at the eastern end where public transport access is easier to provide. Furthermore, public transport facilities must be in place before a development opens -- especially for work uses, as public transport users can't take jobs unless facilities already exist for them.
  4. We need new pedestrian and cycle access routes from the river and across the A14 avoiding the roundabouts.
  5. In principle we support replacing the Fen Ditton slip road by a new road link to Airport Way, provided it doesn't impinge on the old Mildenhall line which should be converted to leisure use. However (bus friendly) traffic calming through Horningsea might be desirable to prevent rat-running, and one should consider the option of maintaining the slip road for buses between the Newmarket Road estates and Cambridge Parkway (see 2 above) and possibly for other traffic on a controlled basis (e.g. at off-peak times only).

Sunday Rover Network.

The Sunday bus network has been relaunched under the above title. A network map was (eventually) published and should now be available. However, the launch coincided with cuts in some counties' networks as compared with 1995, and publicity was inadequate. We believe councils should arrange a Network Manager responsible for coordinating and marketing the network as a whole, and providing region-wide timetable information; and that they should set up a pooling system to maintain network stability. Here is a county by county guide.


As mentioned last time, the Ely-March section of 380 has disappeared, though March-Wisbech now runs as part of the 337. 399 Huntingdon-Littlehey Prison bus has also disappeared -- even though the Traffic & Minor Improvements Committee voted to refer it to the Transport Services Committee and it has not appeared on the agenda of any meeting of the latter. What's going on?

X94 now runs more frequently in Cambs and largely duplicates 337. There's scope for genuine economies by amalgamating these two routes instead of cutting an key cross-link (380) and withdrawing 399 without following proper procedures.

The amalgamation of 473 and 477 means that these routes duplicate 151/3 between St Ives and Huntingdon. Failure to coordinate with Suffolk means that 19 and 156 no longer connect at Ely. And extra stops by West Anglia trains following support by Enfield BC mean that they miss onward 102 connections at Audley End. And all that's needed to rectify the situation is a stop at Whittlesford...

The timetable omits the Suffolk CC routes giving the best days out from St Ives, Cambridge and Ely, because details weren't available at the time of publication. Why not an update?

The one coastal route that is in the Cambs CC booklet is 631 between Saffron Walden and Burnham on Crouch. Last year we complained endlessly because the timetable didn't give 631 times at Radwinter where the first and last journeys connect with 38 to/from Cambridge, Linton and Haverhill. A free Sunday Rover if you can think of a reasonable explanation of this outrage.

The timetable also doesn't give Shuttleworth times on 172, which would be useful to Cambridge people using route 14. Again, what are they up to?


This county council came up with what can only be described as panic cuts. Gone are most of the improvements of recent years and the summer network is little changed from the winter. Some highlights (or should it be ``lowlights''):

156/757: reduced from 3 to 4 hourly. Failure to coordinate with Cambs CC means poor connections with 19 at Ely, as previously mentioned. The change does bring better connections to the Stour Valley corridor (601 Saffron Walden to Long Melford), but not for long as 601 will change for the winter.

New all year service Ipswich-Diss, but via the un-scenic A140 and missing out Debenham and Helmingham Gardens (only open Sunday). Cuts to Shotley, where a daily ferry to Harwich has been reinstated, this time to Parkeston Quay. Framlingham, Walberswick and Somerleyton are also wiped off the map, and if one wants to visit places like Laxfield one has to spend the whole day there.

Summer services Newmarket to Clacton and Haverhill to Lowestoft via Southwold (which does at least avoid connectional problems at Southwold) join the all year St Ives to Yarmouth route, but with just one journey in each direction. These routes connect at Newmarket, Bury and Diss so people from St Ives, Cambridge and Bottisham (also Linton via Haverhill) still have reasonable access to the coast (provided they can find the relevant timetables) -- though connections to places like Dunwich are worse.


By contrast there are improvements here. Bus times between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton have changed so morning and early afternoon rail connections change from ``impossible'' to ``tight'' (4 minutes rail to bus station). More buses on the coast between Hunstanton and Cromer, but the changes on the Lynn route now mean missed connections at Hunstanton. New routes link Diss, Norwich and Yarmouth giving access to Bressingham, Banham Zoo, the Lizard nature reserve at Wymondham (now bisected by the A11), and Broads attractions such as Woodbastwick (for Cockshoot Broad and ferry to Horning), Ranworth and South Walsham (boat trips from the Gardens to St Benet's Abbey). Unfortunately connections to Cromer are poor so one can't easily get to the north coast that way round either. The timetable omits all Suffolk CC services in the Diss area.


Summer route 600 (Ongar-Epping-Romford) is not reintroduced, and there is no ``heritage'' service this year. Chelmsford to Tilbury Ferry (380) is replaced by a new link to Grays. As previously mentioned, rail replacement routes 103 and 137 were withdrawn prematurely. Improved commercial service on 33 (Bps Stortford to Southend), and Sunday Rovers may be valid on this and the 11 (Chelmsford to Southend). Otherwise little change.


Improved service on commercial route 724 (Heathrow to Harlow, now 2 hourly, Sunday Rovers valid north of Uxbridge). Sunday Rovers also valid on tube between Moor Park, Watford, Amersham and Chesham. Otherwise little change. The county booklet was very late.


Route 600 linking Luton, Whipsnade, Leighton Buzzard, Woburn and Bedford is withdrawn. This means that Bucks CC 78 is now a ``dead end''. Otherwise little change.


Summer extras cut back slightly and the most interesting section of route (through Cholesbury) is no longer served. There's still lots of interest -- though one may have to pay on the X5 to use it. The county timetable is now a leaflet showing the main inter-urban and rural services but omits urban services and many intermediate timing points, so it is difficult to plan connections such as Bletchley or MK centre to Coachway or Newport Pagnell (for X49 to Corby). We suggest such ``squashing'' would be better used to provide a region-wide booklet.


A new entrant to the network, but few non-urban services other than the main inter-urban routes from Oxford. The Ridgeway Explorer (Reading-Swindon, connecting to/from Oxford at Wantage) is well worth a ride, and a peculiar route links Witney and Shipton under Wychwood -- if this area is to have a summer extra the old X64 between Oxford and Swindon, varied to run via Charlbury, is surely a better bet. The Banbury-Oxford route shown on the map is just a once a day positioning working. No Sunday bus booklet at all.


Again, no county booklet. It looks from the map as if the X61 (Oxford-Leicester) is excluded. Sunday Rovers valid on all Saunterbus routes (see last newsletter).

Now for some proposals to improve the Sunday network. We plan to put something along these lines ``officially'' to Cambs CC, but this list is expanded because of the need to integrate across county boundaries. Any comments?

X3/5: (Note: this assumes that the current service cannot be sustained -- see ``Stagecoach News'' below.) The Councils should support an hourly service between Cambridge and Bedford; alternate journeys run as X5 (continuing to Oxford, probably with more stops than now) and X3 (continuing to Northampton). Connections with all other inter-urban routes at Bedford. Sunday Rovers to be valid on X5 for journeys from Cambridge at least as far as Milton Keynes.

14 (summer): Extend from Shuttleworth to Shefford, Silsoe (for Wrest Park), Flitwick and Woburn amalgamating with Bucks CC 78 (Woburn to Aylesbury). Connections at appropriate points to/from Luton and Bedford.

19: Extend to Littleport in lieu of, and connecting at Ely with, 156 (q.v.). 2 journeys extend via Welney to Wereham conn. 129 to Hunstanton.

X94: 1 extra journey Peterborough-Kings Lynn for day trippers to Norfolk Coast. Some journeys divert and make extra stops to replace 337 (q.v.). 1 journey might divert via March for visitors to Whitemoor Prison.

102/3: All journeys run as 103 then continue by 504 route to Harlow. Conn. Old Harlow with diverted 200/500. Rail passengers for London change at Whittlesford (extra council supported stop) or Bps Stortford (for Stansted Express).

113: Extend from Clare to Long Melford, Waldingfield, Lavenham, Ipswich replacing part 156 (q.v.) and 757. First and penultimate journeys (which terminate Haverhill) conn. Cambridge for 200 to/from Yarmouth.

151/3: Part diversion via Warboys and Ramsey.

156: First and last journeys run via Soham instead of Isleham. Other journeys run to Chatteris (conn. 337 and 473/7, q.v.) instead of Littleport, and Colchester instead of Ipswich. Omission of Waldingfield (see 113) allows improved connections at Colchester with other services.

172: Shuttleworth served all year when open. Buses extend from Langford to Stotfold then interwork with other tendered routes.

200: First journey starts Huntingdon. 473/7 provides return facility.

337: Replaced by new route from Chatteris (conn. 156 and 473/7, q.v.) to March and Wisbech, with some journeys extended to serve any places of interest near Wisbech.

452: Divert via Hedingham and extend to Colchester replacing 88.

473/7: Extends to St Neots Tesco at one end, and some journeys to Somersham and Chatteris (conn. 156 and 337, q.v) at the other. Some journeys serve Littlehey Prison, Brampton Wood Nature Reserve and/or the Offords. Also connects at St Neots (town centre or Tesco) with X3/5 to Cambridge and Bedford, and with trains for London.

601: Divert via Hedingham to avoid duplicating 113/156 (q.v.) and if possible to connect with 452 (q.v.). Either 156 or 601 may also divert via Nayland.

Norfolk Coast: Improved connections at Kings Lynn between 335 (extended from Sutton Bridge), X94, WAGN trains and Hunstanton buses; at Hunstanton from 129 and Kings Lynn buses to Coastliner; and at Sheringham and Norwich for journeys between Diss interchange and coast.

Oxford-Colchester: Improved connections along the corridor via Aylesbury, Luton and Braintree, including provision of ``missing link'' between Baldock and Bps Stortford via Buntingford and Puckeridge, and diversion to serve Luton and Stansted airports.

More in the ``Bus news'' section near the end of this newsletter.

Stagecoach News.

In newsletter 51 we mentioned the takeover of Cambus by Stagecoach, after which we wrote to United Counties to express our hopes for an more coordinated network. As yet no progress, and indeed restrictions imposed by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission can only make things harder. And now (see Bus News below) its competitor has largely withdrawn from one of the relevant corridors (Cambridge to Biggleswade).

Stagecoach has attacked the proposed east-west rail link as a waste of money, suggesting that councils could do better by helping to keep the X5 express service (which is not attracting enough passengers) alive. Cambs CC say they don't think it their responsibility to support inter-urban buses. We disagree with both parties; here are our views.

  1. Councils should support both rail development and inter-urban buses.
  2. The most important route is not Cambridge-Oxford but Haverhill-Rugby via Cambridge, Huntingdon and Kettering.
  3. Councils should demand changes to X5 as the price of support. Could it carry bikes?

If the route is in danger, here's a possible rescue package.

  1. Reduce service to 2 hourly, but make tickets interavailable for end to end journeys with Cambridge Coach Services 75. Timetables to be interworked with routes such as X3/4 and 32 to provide hourly overall services for shorter journeys.
  2. Explorers and Sunday Rovers to be valid for local journeys (e.g. not across Milton Keynes).
  3. Serve all villages on line of route.
  4. Serve Buckingham town centre with connections to/from Northampton and Leicester (part of the X61 network).
  5. More early morning and late evening journeys serving places like St Neots. These should in particular connect at MK with overnight rail and coach services for Scotland, with ticket interavailability for holders of rail tickets between (say) Cambridge and Glasgow.

We now mention a few United Counties changes. The last bus from Bedford to St Neots and back is to be withdrawn; the latest is now the 21.15 (21.30 Sundays) running through to Cambridge. In our strategy this service would have been extended to St Neots station to connect with trains in each direction and the last bus from Huntingdon to Cambridge.

The Oxford to Leicester route (X60/1) has had considerable changes. North of Northampton, almost all journeys use the more populated route via Market Harborough, rather than the fast route via the A50. The service to Oxford is now the best for a long time. Explorers are valid as long as one doesn't cross Northampton on the same bus, and one can now get from Cambridge to Oxford this way by 13.00.

Route X63 will provide an hourly Bedford-Dunstable service, jointly operated by United Counties and Luton & Dunstable, part of The Shires (formerly Luton & District). Both companies accept each other's Explorers on this and other routes.

Roads News.

Two items this time. First, our response to the Cambs CC consultation on the Papworth by-pass (A1198). We are very concerned that this scheme might make the route a rat-run for A14 traffic, thereby increasing pressure on the A428 and undermining the economic case for the St Ives line. We are particularly concerned that the Council plans to ``improve'' part of the B1040 which is allegedly ``unsuitable''; we believe it would be better to provide a minimum cost by-pass and spend the money instead on better and more bus-friendly traffic calming in Papworth, which would give through traffic less encouragement.

However, we have also suggested an alternative strategy which includes a guided busway from Cambridge to Cambourne (see St Ives line section above), an improved junction layout where the B1040 meets the A428 at Eltisley (which should help buses serving the village and would provide the official route for through traffic on the A1198), traffic calming through Papworth (as above), and diversion of money from trunk roads (the A14 and A428) to public transport.

The other road is the A1. The Highways Agency is not pursuing the Baldock to Alconbury section at the moment. So how can we possibly need 8 lanes (plus 2 for local traffic) between Alconbury and Norman Cross, (a section now under construction?)

We appeared at the public inquiry into the latter. Our objection was threefold: the scheme was bigger than could possibly be needed (surely fully vindicated by the above), no public footpath crossings, poor junction and local road layouts. I submitted alternative layouts in good time for the inquiry.

Transport campaigners will know that objectors have little chance of securing substantive changes to road schemes at the public inquiry stage. But I thought that the interests of bus users on the corridor justified my attending the inquiry to suggest moving the ``local road'' in Stilton so buses could run through instead of doubling back.

At present buses can get straight through Stilton if going north, but must make a long detour if going south. The latter had long irked me and my distaste for the motorway plan was mitigated by my hope that now at last the problem would be sorted out -- until the Department of Transport (DOT, referred to as such here even though some of its functions were later transferred to the Highways Agency) published its proposals, under which there would be no net balance of advantage.

When I got to the inquiry venue I saw an alternative layout submitted by another objector which would satisfy my objection just as well, and said I'd be willing to support that. The official record says I also made changes to my own proposals. I have no recollection of this (probably because I regarded the changes as trivial) but it is possible that I may have made changes to counter criticisms of my proposals at the inquiry by the DOT, and/or to incorporate elements of the other objector's scheme which seemed to me to have merit.

When I saw the Inspector's Report I was shocked to see that he'd said he was unable to consider my own proposals because they had not been submitted in time. It eventually emerged that this referred to my layout as changed at the inquiry, but what happened to the layout I submitted in advance? After a long drawn out correspondence with the Planning Inspectorate and DOT I asked my own MP (and our branch's Parliamentary Representative) to refer the issue to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, which she did. Though the roads lobby may delight in crushing environmentalists, surely the Ombudsman would be more sympathetic to the individual?

It was eventually agreed that the layout I submitted before the inquiry, though not considered by the Inspector, had been considered by the DOT prior to their decision. This means there would be no basis for a legal challenge (which was impracticable for other reasons anyway).

I wasn't satisfied with this because, having taken the trouble (not negligible if one relies on public transport) to present evidence in person, I felt entitled to redress when the evidence was ignored by the person to whom the evidence was presented. What is more, there had been no mention at the inquiry itself of my evidence being inadmissible.

The Ombudsman's report said that the Planning Inspectorate had ``apologised'' for this. Does this mean they sent a letter of apology to me? Not on your life. If A hits B, B might be mollified by an apology from A to B, but surely not by an apology from A to his (A's) wife.

One issue wasn't properly addressed by the Ombudsman. As the head of this newsletter shows, I believe that ideas are best developed by exchange of views between interested parties. Natural justice surely requires that I should be able to amend my proposals in response to criticisms or alternative ideas. Given that the first I saw of any alternative or relevant criticism was at the inquiry venue, how could I possibly get things right in advance?

Alternative proposals were published in a local newspaper, but nothing was sent to me, not even a reference so I could look things up for myself. Another objector criticised the newspaper chosen as not being the one most appropriate to the affected area. But all the DOT could say was that it was not their function to act as a clearing house for objectors.

Long before becoming involved in organised transport campaigning, I submitted evidence to the Stansted Airport public inquiry. I remember an endless stream of paperwork giving alternative ideas and views on where the airport should go. By contrast, a single mailing could have given me all the views on the A1.

The worst is yet to come. The Ombudsman's report referred to my ``changing account of events''. I couldn't submit my complaint until 2 years after the inquiry, and since then another 2 years have passed. Surely I wasn't expected to have a perfect memory over so long a period? The best way of resolving any discrepancy between my memory and official records would have been to show me the latter. Why wasn't this done? I still have no idea what changes I'm supposed to have made to my own proposals at the inquiry.

The Ombudsman's report concluded by describing my complaint as ``mostly unjustified''. Not even an attempt to make a gesture towards conciliating me. I'd rather face the Child Support Agency.

Round and about.

Here is a round-up of new leisure bus services suitable for holidays and other trips further afield.


New bus route between Moreton in March and Evesham via Chipping Campden and Broadway, with some journeys using the interesting route via Snowshill. At weekends there are also diversions to the Glos and Warwicks railway at Toddington (for Winchcombe). Cotswold Explorer tickets are valid on trains between Oxford and Gt Malvern plus this and some other bus services, and holders of Network Cards as well as other railcards are entitled to a discount. Cambridge people can get to Oxford by Cambridge Coach Services 75 or United Counties X5. Till the end of the BR summer timetable.

Devon and Cornwall.

The Dartmoor Sunday bus network runs again, and this time there's a ticket which covers the rest of the Western National network as well as all Dartmoor buses irrespective of operator. A new Dartmoor route runs to Lopwell Dam in the Tamar Valley. In Cornwall the bus route serving the Camel Trail (former Bodmin to Padstow railway) runs again; an article in the National Federation of Bus Users newsletter described this as using roads so narrow that cars would hesitate to use them. Other connecting services run from Wadebridge to Padstow and Newquay (daily) and Bude (new Sunday service via Port Isaac). There is also a daily bus from Bude to Budeford via Hartland and Clovelly. Again, till the end of the summer timetable.

The South East.

Sunday Rider tickets are again available throughout Surrey, Hants and W Sussex, and on some routes through to Kent (which has its own Sunday bus ticket). Some summer routes run last year have disappeared (including, unfortunately, Surrey CC's beautiful 66), and some new ones have been put on; in particular there is now a 7 day service between Petersfield and Chichester via the National Trust's recently restored Uppark House.


Another interesting National Trust property is Cliveden, served by route 68 from Slough or Maidenhead on weekdays. Unfortunately bus times don't fit in with the house opening (unless one's prepared to walk back to a bus route) but the gardens are open daily till December from 11.00, suitable for the 10.55 from Slough.

The North.

Various new and improved services which are difficult to summarise. Examples are (Yorkshire Dales) Leeds to Malham/Hawes and Fountains Abbey, (N York Moors) extension of leisure network to cover Helmsley area, (Lakes) new routes from Ambleside via Grizedale to Newby Bridge and Grange. Some of these may have finished by the time you get this newsletter.

Scottish Highlands.

Southern Vectis, publisher of the Great Britain Bus Timetable, has published new timetables covering Wales and the Scottish Highlands. The former is disappointing as it omits many interesting cross-country routes, but the latter, though not comprehensive, is a step towards the old Highlands & Islands guide. Highlands Regional Council are also publishing a series of 4 timetables which also cover some of the islands. The timetables show some progress towards integration since the last issue of the H&I guide.

Timetable information on the Web.

A Cambridge area public transport consultancy, Austin Analytics, has set up a Web site from which access can be obtained to all Internet providers of information (including air and international travel). Unfortunately most of the information tells one little more than is available in (say) Cambridge Central Library (which also has public Internet terminals) but Bucks CC now has timetables for the Milton Keynes area (including routes X3-5 to Cambridge) and there are also various timetables for a few services in the Lake District and Skye. See link page.

Bus news.

Going through the issues of ``Travel Times'' (apologies for a shortage of supplies):


We've already referred to the Sunday Rover; almost everything else is relatively minor.


We believe Travel Times is not an appropriate place to promote Park & Ride -- the Council should target motorists rather than existing bus users. This issue gives the Suffolk Sunday bus times, but doesn't convey anywhere near the scope of the network even in its considerably reduced level. The main options for trips east are:

  1. To Yarmouth via Waveney Valley (route 200). From Linton change Haverhill and Diss. For an alternative scenic ride, take the Norwich bus in the morning -- this runs through to Yarmouth.
  2. To Southwold and Lowestoft. From St Ives, Cambridge and Bottisham change Diss. From Linton change Haverhill. Onward connections to Dunwich etc. at Southwold.
  3. To Ipswich and Clacton. From St Ives, Cambridge and Bottisham change Newmarket. From Linton change Haverhill and Bury. Ipswich is also accessible by 156 from Littleport, Ely and Isleham. Change at Ipswich for Woodbridge etc., also Felixstowe and Shotley (for ferry to Harwich), at Mistley for Harwich, and at Clacton for Walton.
  4. To Norwich and the Broads. Change Diss (and Haverhill if starting at Linton). See Sunday Rover section for more details.
  5. To Colchester and Essex Coast. From Cambridge and Linton to Haverhill for 601 to Colchester. Change at Colchester for Harwich, Walton, Clacton, Maldon and other destinations.
  6. To Maldon and Burnham. From Cambridge and Linton, change Radwinter to 631. Change at Burnham for ferry to Wallasea and Southend, also for Dengie peninsula.

Most of the other changes are improvements, but Ramsey's bus service is still a hotchpotch unworthy of a reasonable sized settlement -- and especially one planning to expand. We complained about the 167 withdrawal because the agenda for the relevant Traffic & Minor Improvements meeting misled councillors into thinking that there was an alternative service available. It would be relatively easy to provide such a service during school term, but this hasn't been done.


Only a few changes, none worthy of particular note.


Mostly bad news. Biggleswade gets not just ``a reduction in the number of journeys'', one can no longer get there and back from Cambridge in a day. We believe Cambs and Beds CC's should reinstate a through link, possibly by amalgamating Stagecoach United Counties and Cambus routes -- here are some options:

  1. Divert part X3/4 from Eltisley via Gamlingay and Sandy to Bedford replacing part 178. Croxton and St Neots to be served by X5 and X1.
  2. Extend 118 (Cambridge to Longstowe, some journeys to Gamlingay) to run via Gamlingay then as 188 to Biggleswade.
  3. Extend X46 (Cambridge to Mordens) via Wrestlingworth to Biggleswade.
  4. New tendered service Biggleswade to Royston via Arrington, which could provide a visitor service from London to Wimpole Hall.

Last year new display boards were put up at Cambridge bus station. At last these have sprouted timetable displays. But there's still room for a few more to show important connectional facilities and forthcoming changes. Incidentally, why are up to date timetables no longer available at the Shirehall Local Government Library?

In Herts there are so many changes for September that their travel update doesn't give details. There are complete new networks in N Herts and Hemel Hempstead. Also a new school/commuter bus from Buntingford to Bps Stortford and changes on the Hertford to Stevenage corridor.

Several weekday improvements in Norfolk: more summer buses along north coast; improved services Harleston to Norwich, Fakenham to Dereham, and on A11 corridor. The Council has also started a monthly travel update and a county map is expected in October. An early train from Cambridge and late evening service back makes the area more accessible.

Where to put this?

Ruth Annison, Secretary of the Wensleydale Railway Association, has toured Northern Europe on a Churchill Fellowship to investigate ways of developing rural railways. One finding was a community council who supported extra evening trains for drinkers -- and found that afternoon train use doubled as a result because people had more choice in getting home from shopping. A lesson for our bus planners?

Action Line.

This time we have not highlighted all the proposed ``actions'' in the newsletter.

  1. Contact the Chairman to find out how you can help our work.
  2. Renew your subscription if you haven't already done so.
  3. Write to your MP to complain about possible train reductions and loss of ticket validity due to franchising, and the waste of public money in privatisation.
  4. Follow up any of the complaints mentioned in this newsletter with the County Council or other appropriate body.

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