Transport 2000 Cambs and W Suffolk

Newsletter 62, May 1998

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/Coordinator -- it is through the exchange of ideas that methods for solving our problems are developed.

Please note that although in this newsletter we concentrate on matters of strategic importance, we would like to hear from any member on any transport related topic, however small. If you have a complaint or suggestion of any kind we will endeavour to pursue it ourselves or to advise you on how to pursue it yourself.


In our last newsletter we urged members to lobby the Government to give interim support to rural bus services to bridge the gap until whatever new funding mechanisms are foreshadowed in its Transport White Paper (currently expected 2nd week June) can come on stream.

We are pleased to announce that this campaign appears to have succeeded. In its Budget the Government announced a GBP 50 million per year boost to rural transport, and subsequent announcements have suggested that GBP 800,000 of this will come to Cambridgeshire. As the shortfall in county spending was only GBP 210,000 it should have been possible not only to restore all the cuts but to introduce many improvements.

Immediately after the Budget we asked the Council to suspend the cuts for 3 months. This, we believed, would allow sufficient time to find out whether a more permanent solution would be possible. The Council says that it has still not been confirmed how much money will be available and what it can be used for, but then there are still nearly 2 months to go before the expiry of that 3 month moratorium. So we believe that our stance has been vindicated. Had the Council followed our advice, there might have been the remote possibility that it would have to find the necessary GBP 52,500 (or thereabouts) out of its contingency fund, but that is the worst that could have happened. And that's what contingency funds are for -- to meet unexpected spending needs: surely following the Budget it would be highly unexpected if no money was available for reinstating rural services? Incidentally, Norfolk and Suffolk are already preparing to use their money, and the new Southern Vectis timetable covering these counties has been delayed till July to show the improvements. We look forward to seeing this.

Why should the Council have taken the risk? There are very definite social and economic downsides to cutting services even for a short period. It is not always easy for people to make interim arrangements to get to work, shops or wherever -- especially when nobody knows when or even if a service will return. If people react to loss of bus services by acquiring a car, there community suffers higher pollution and congestion -- plus loss of revenue to the public transport system (people who buy cars don't normally restrict their use to journeys that cannot be made by public transport) and cost to the Council in enticing them back to public transport later. Of course, the Council's policy makes sense if it actually has no intention of bringing the relevant services back. That's one reason we are worried!

References to ``restoring services'' above do not mean that we want every lost service restored exactly as it was -- indeed, as our last newsletter indicated, we believe there are plenty of measures that could have been taken to cut costs and to generate new patronage. We have compiled a list of proposals which would restore lost services and implement further improvements to the system. These ate enclosed with this newsletter. They are only a first draft and we welcome comments and suggestions. We plan to use them in a wide ranging exercise of consultation with parish councils, community groups etc..

Later in this newsletter we list the changes that have actually been made to buses (and trains) in Cambridgeshire (as far as we know them). For the most part this is without comment -- for our reaction, see our list of proposals.

Incidentally, we would have liked to send this newsletter out earlier -- but it has taken time to find our everything that has been going on and to work out our draft list of proposals, so apologies for the delay, and we hope to produce another newsletter soon.

Branch news.

We welcome new member Steve Harangozo who volunteered as Acting Minutes Secretary. So far we have not had any meetings for him to minute, nor have any been arranged at the time of writing, but he has been very helpful in liaising with the Coordinator during the latter's absence in Canada. Other new members are M. L. Smith, P. A. James, and S. Beel. Wisbech Friends of the Earth has also affiliated.

Cambridge area members are reminded that the Friends of the Earth Transport & Planning Group meets at St Michael's Church, Trinity St on the second Monday of each month, while the Cambridge Cycling Campaign meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane. Hunts area members please contact local FOE coordinator on 01480 475034 for dates of their meetings.

Subscriptions are now due again. Rates are unchanged -- GBP 3.50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household/affiliate. The next newsletter will include renewal forms, but, if you can, please send a cheque payable to ``Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk'' to the Coordinator now.

Local planning issues.

Cambridge area members will have enclosed with this newsletter two petitions, both of which we have launched jointly with Cambridge Friends of the Earth. One, which is fairly urgent, is aimed at making the proposed Cambridge Leisure Park on the Cattle Market site behind the Railway Station less car oriented. Even if you aren't interested in using the facilities proposed for that site, and live far enough away not to worry about the increase in traffic, the petition may still matter to you as we believe that a well planned Leisure Park could act as a catalyst in reviving evening buses from Cambridge, including links from the Railway Station.

The other petition is in support of the policy of Addenbrookes Hospital, supported by both the City and County councils, not to solve parking problems there by building a new multi-storey car park. This policy is partly because such a car park would be completely uneconomic -- it could only pay its way by charging at such a high rate that those who currently park in local residential streets would continue to do so. But if such a car park did solve the parking problems of the area, the main effect would be to generate yet more car traffic to/from the Hospital. We believe that the problem should be attacked by improving public transport (including the provision of direct services from the City's park & ride sites, running well into the evening). See Section 7 of our proposal list for how this might work. As with the Leisure Park, we see such a programme as a catalyst for improving public transport around Cambridge, so this matters to all of us, not just those directly involved.

For both petitions, there is a column asking people to say whether they live within the City Council area. The reason for this is that the City Council requires a certain minimum number of resident signatories for a petition to be presented officially. But even if you don't live within the City your signature will still be valuable in showing your support. And the Addenbrookes petition may be presented to the County Council, for which the signature of any county resident will be valid. (Incidentally, only signatories who give an identifiable and legible address will be counted!)

The response to our ``Save the Buses'' petition was very disappointing, and may have contributed to the failure of the Council to reconsider. These two petitions are less crucial to our campaign, but can we get a better response this time?

We strongly welcome the decision of the County Council to maintain the closure of Bridge St in Cambridge (though there has been talk of removing the restrictions at night, which we would not welcome). Now let's please go for a Quality Bus scheme for the Huntingdon Road corridor (see 7H in our list of proposals) which could reduce the number of cars using Victoria Road, the increase of which has been the main adverse side-effect of the scheme.

We objected to the planning proposal by McAlpine to widen part of the A428 trunk road. This was imposed on them by S Cambs District Council as a condition of the Cambourne housing development, so, not surprisingly, S Cambs DC gave the proposal the go-ahead. However, trunk roads are subject to the findings of the Government's Roads Review (expected this summer), so you may wish to write to Baroness Hayman (Minister for Roads), House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW. Some S Cambs councillors are unhappy at the scheme because they believe the road layout would be unsafe unless the A428 is widened through to Cambridge. That, though, is our main worry, as this will increase traffic in Cambridge, enshrine car dependence in Cambourne, and undermine the case for an efficient east-west rail link.

National issues.

Transport 2000 has produced proposals for a tax on private non-residential parking which we hope the Government will adopt. This calls for each parking space (with possible exceptions for small businesses in rural areas) to be taxed at a flat rate of GBP 100 per year by central government in the first year, rising by GBP 50 per year afterwards, with some of the money used to increase spending on sustainable modes of transport. Local authorities would have powers to top this up by an extra GBP 100 which would be theirs to use to top up local transport spending. The latter would be ample to support a rolling programme of improvements, though some projects (such as the east-west rail link via St Ives) would still have to receive most of their funding at national level.

Transport 2000 local member Helen Brinton, MP for Peterborough, has introduced a Private Member's Bill to give local authorities the power to introduce Home Zones. This idea was pioneered in the Netherlands under the name ``Woonerf'' of which Home Zone is a translation. In such areas people would have priority over traffic, which would be restricted to speeds of about 10mph. Unless you live in Peterborough you may wish to write to your MP (before the summer Parliamentary Recess) asking him/her to sign Early Day Motion 1103 in support of this Bill.

The Railway Development Society has produced detailed proposals for a Parliamentary Bill to protect disused rail routes until the planned Strategic Rail Authority has examined whether they might be suitable for reopening in the future (or for conversion to footpaths and cycleways). Transport 2000 is one of the organisations supporting this campaign.

Cambs bus cuts.

We now describe the fate of various services previously supported by Cambs CC.

The following routes were reprieved: X3 (Cambridge-Bedford), 399 (Huntingdon-Littlehey Prison) and 431 (Bury-St Ives).

The following routes, previously jointly supported by Cambs and Suffolk County Councils, are now supported solely by Suffolk: 200 (Newmarket-Thetford), 209 (Newmarket-West Row), 210 (Newmarket-Tuddenham) and 342 (Exning-Bury).

The following routes were given temporary support (lasting 3 months) by E Cambs District Council: 111 (Reach diversion of one journey), 116 (Sat journey from Soham to Ely and return), 125 (Welney-Ely), 128 (Wardy Hill-Ely) and 213 (Ely-Bury).

The following routes to/from Huntingdon, operated by Huntingdon & District (the new name for Premier Buses), are running pending a review by this company, due ``early summer'': 71 (early journey from Oxmoor), 73/4 (some evening journeys to St Ives), 75 (Little Paxton diversion of one journey), 77 (commuter rail link from Godmanchester) and 78 (commuter rail link from Stukeley Meadows).

The following routes are also running without support, at least for the moment: Whippet 1 (afternoon journeys beyond Papworth), 1A (extension to Long Rd 6th Form College), 3 (journeys from Graveley area to Huntingdon), 9 (Knapwell diversion) and Cambus 31/2 (Cambridge-Fowlmere/Chrishall -- 32 replaced by 31).

The following routes have been partly replaced: 15 (Orwell-Royston -- no longer serves Arrington Hill, Croydon or Wendy, the last now having no buses at all), 127 (Prickwillow given reduced service by diverting 129, Little Ouse and Soham Fen now have no service), 354 (Benwick-Wisbech, now runs only to March), 400 (West Hunts village service -- replaced by new buses 400-411 which, however, amounts to a major cut) and 406 (Papworth-St Neots, cut back to Graveley and now runs Thur instead of 3 days a week, renumbered 413).

The following routes have been axed completely: 120 (Cambridge-Longstowe/Mordens), 136 (The Camps-Linton for Cambridge, Sat), 146/X46 (Cambridge-Royston eves plus Abington Piggotts diversion), 167 (Haverhill-Newmarket -- only service for Upend, replacement being investigated), 337 (Peterborough-March via Wisbech, eves and Suns), 361 (Welney-March, Weds), 416 (Sawtry-St Neots via Gt Gidding).

The following routes, not on the original hit list, have also been axed: 115 (Cambridge-Fulbourn-Wilbrahams, Mon-Thur eves), 344 (Benwick-Peterborough, replacement may have been provided), 359 (Manea-March) and 435 (Upwood-Huntingdon, Thur -- the only service for Wennington and Little Raveley). One might also add the 127 and 128: the hit list suggested that these would be replaced by a postbus but this seems to have been forgotten: most of the 127 journeys have been lost, and the 128 only survives through the support of E Cambs District Council). And there's the 93 Cambridge City evening service, formerly operated with council support by Myall's, now run commercially by Whippet -- but with neither leafets nor bus stop publicity how long can this survive? Here are the main times: buses leave Fison Rd 18.10 and hourly to 22.10, St Andrew's St (stop N) 18.24 to 22.24, Kings Hedges Rd 18.40 to 22.40, Emmanuel St (stop G) 18.53 to 22.53, then back to Fison Rd.

We have been deluged with so much false information from various sources that there could well be mistakes in the above, but this represents the best of our belief. Meanwhile here are details of some other changes:

Cambridge Coach Services: timing changes on all routes except the 38. We generally welcome the changes which bring earlier departures from Cambridge to Norwich, longer days out on the Worcester route, and look as though they will improve reliability on the airport network.

United Counties: timing changes to X5 (Cambridge-Oxford).

Whippet: timing changes to routes 3 (Papworth-Huntingdon), 5 (Cambridge-Huntingdon), 8 (Cambridge-Elsworth area), 115 (Cambridge-Wilbrahams, formerly run by Cambus). Route 175 (Cambridge-Biggleswade), evening peak journey diverted via Eversdens, some Sat journeys extended to Gamlingay.

Other operators: timing changes to 356 (March town service). St Neots Postbus (diverted to Covington on Tues), Cambus Cowley Rd Park & Ride (rerouted and runs later).

The following changes were made to Stagecoach Cambus/Viscount services in May: E2 (Ely City, withdrawn but replaced by 355); X7 (renumbered 109, extends to Long Rd replacing 124); X55/X56 (new services from Cambridge to Peterborough and Kings Lynn via Science Park, nonstop to Stretham Roundabout, Sutton village, March then X55 via Whittlesey to Peterborough and X56 direct via Wisbech to Kings Lynn, combined hourly service Cambridge-March; note that the Stagecoach leaflet does not show the Sutton village diversion); 124 (runs Waterbeach-Cambridge only); 125 (off-peak journeys cut, replaced by county council tenders); 134 (Ely City service, cut back to school journey, others replaced by 355); 171 (Thursday market service withdrawn, more buses for Little Thetford and Aldreth with timing changes); and 355 (most journeys run Ely-Sutton only where they connect with X55/X56; route includes former Ely city service).

In the Peterborough area, Tourmaster of Crowland operates a new summer Saturday service (till 12 Sept) to Mablethorpe via Holbeach (from Queensgate 07.35), and late night buses on Fridays and Saturdays to/from Spalding and Holbeach (from Broadway, Tesco at 19.20, 22.30 and 02.12, also serves other ``night spots'').

Eastern Counties X94 will be putting on an earlier bus on Sundays between Peterborough and Kings Lynn in both directions from 24 May. Other timings are changed.

We were told that the Croft Carrier in the Christchurch area was liable to be withdrawn but don't know whether this has yet happened. If it has, the withdrawal of the 361 which partly duplicates it is inexcusable.

Here are details of some other changes affecting buses in Cambs. The money used by East Cambs DC to support lost services has come out of its concessionary fare budget, with the result that many pensioners are no longer entitled to passes. (However, Fenland DC will be reinstating its support for bus passes.) The Council appears to have given up producing timetables, none having appeared since the two November editions, except, curiously, in March 1998 for the Peterborough Rural area, normally due December, but future publication months are shown as August and February! What is more, the area is now within the ambit of the new Peterborough Unitary authority -- but there's no reference to that in the book.

Some good news: United Counties has revamped its Explorer ticket. They are now valid on X5 between Cambridge and Milton Keynes. The validity on other routes ends at Market Harborough, Brackley, Daventry, Luton and Milton Keynes; but a higher priced version is valid throughout the United Counties network. Both tickets are still valid on The Shires, Midland Fox, Stagecoach Viscount and Midland Red, and now also on Stagecoach Cambus and Huntingdon & District. We presume that tickets can be bought on Cambus and Huntingdon & District vehicles with the same validity but there has been absolutely no publicity at either Cambridge or Huntingdon. It is advisable when using such tickets to carry the leaflet showing their validity.

There are also timing changes to National Express between London and Cambridge, including more evening journeys via Sawston, a new service to Ely and an extra journey to Huntingdon, Wisbech and Kings Lynn. However the ban on non-hand luggage at the Embankment has been restored (why?), and hot food is also banned -- hard luck for those with a tight schedule.

Rail News.

Mostly good news: the new timetable sees the return of the Cambridge to Stansted Airport service with most trains running through to/from Birmingham and beyond. There is also a late night train from Peterborough to Cambridge connecting with the 18.00 from Glasgow. On the WAGN network, there are more frequent trains between Cambridge and Liverpool St (serving Whittlesford and Audley End), more regular trains on the Peterborough-Hitchin line, changes to Kings Lynn times, and the Sunday stopping trains run through to Kings Cross. We are yet again promised through trains from Peterborough to Paris, which have reasonable connections at Lille to/from Brussels.

Our main short term campaign targets are: extra stops at Manea and Whittlesford (see list of proposals, 4C and 11C); availability of tickets to Bps Stortford and beyond including Network Card discounts on trains between Ely and Stansted Airport; late evening connection from Peterborough to Hunts (Mon-Fri) and Cambridge (Sun); better connections at Ely and Peterborough at all times.

Elsewhere there are new services from Nottingham to Worksop (extended from Mansfield Woodhouse), Wolverhampton to Walsall, and Birmingham via Walsall to Stafford (extended from Rugeley Town). The summer Sunday service to Okehampton is shown in the timetable. Various rail/bus links are shown including Luton to Dunstable; however others exist, including Bps Stortford/Stansted Airport to Gt Dunmow, Kings Lynn to Sandringham and Hunstanton, and Harlow station to town centre.

It is now possible to order the National Routeing Guide and National Fares Manuals. For details ring the Association of Train Operating Companies on 0171 214 9933. Payment is by invoice. There are several fares manuals by region, and they are too heavy to carry while one is travelling -- but the NRG is portable. However, it does not provide complete information as to permitted routes. The general procedure is as follows.

1. Find the routeing points appropriate to one's starting point and destination. There are three routeing points in Cambridgeshire -- Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough. Neighbouring routeing points are Norwich, Ipswich, Hackney Downs, Finsbury Park, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Grantham and Lincoln.

2. A routeing point is permitted for a particular journey whenever the fare to/from that point for that particular type of ticket is not higher than the fare to/from the starting point or destination.

3. Between the routeing points one is offered a choice of different series of routes. There is theoretically almost unlimited freedom to wander around these routes as long as one doesn't pass through the same station twice.

4. Passing through the same station twice is permitted only when the stations are in the same group (e.g. Stevenage and Hitchin) or when there is a specific easement (e.g. travel to stations beyond Thetford is permitted via Norwich).

5. One must use the shortest route between a non routeing point station and the relevant routeing point, or between two non routeing point stations which have a routeing point in common (whether or not this routeing point actually lies on the shortest route).

6. In addition, there may be specific restrictions according to one's type of ticket, which will be printed on the ticket.

However there seem to be so many anomalies in the book as to question its validity. For example the network of routes between Peterborough and Grantham appears to allow one to travel via Spalding and Doncaster (anyone willing to try this out?). But one must use the shortest route between Peterborough and Skegness, which means going via Spalding and not Grantham -- which makes the journey impossible on Sundays. Passengers from stations south of Cambridge may apparently not use the Hertford or Southbury loops en route to London -- though I am sure that tickets are intended to be valid that way. But what about travelling from Cambridge or Ely to Bury via the other (no problem if you are going to Ipswich)? We would welcome any information as to how the NRG is working in practice.

International News.

There is now a uniform system of Inter-Rail tickets for all ages. There are 1, 2, 3 and all zone systems at various prices; the last, which cover the whole of Europe, cost GBP 349 (over 26) and GBP 259 (under 26) for 1 month. But it may be cheaper to buy your ticket abroad due to the strong pound.

The cheapest way to get to Europe is probably a new bus service through the Channel Tunnel, operated by Connex South-East. GBP 12-50 single, GBP 14-50 day return from any CSE station (including Victoria and Charing Cross) to Calais. Buses leave Ashford 08.00 and hourly to 17.00, returning from Calais two and a half hours later (which means 3 and a half hours later on the clock, i.e., last bus 20.30). Any information on where one can get to from Calais within a day?

The Ramsgate-Ostend ferry has been replaced by a Dover-Ostend service with no ``night'' sailings in either direction except in high season. Once in Belgium one can enjoy a large variety of day trips (``B-Excursions'') at inclusive prices from any Belgian station.

Summer days out.

We have little information on where one can go to using the Sunday Rover facility this year, but Bucks seem to have thrown out not only their leisure network but most of their all year Sunday services. In Essex certain routes are being split: the 631 (Saffron Walden-Burnham on Crouch) at Braintree and Maldon, and the 601 (Saffron Walden-Colchester) at Sudbury. We hope both routes will still be accessible from Cambridge by route 38 to Radwinter and Haverhill respectively. In Cambs the only cut is to the 337 between Peterborough, Wisbech and March. The Herts Chiltern Rambler (327) and the Ridgeway Explorer (Reading-Swindon) are running again, as is, in Northants, the Saunterbus, to Stowe (28/6, 18/8, 31/8), Naseby (24/5, 14/6, 26/7, 30/8, 13/9), Hellidon (25/5, 19/7, 12/8, 6/9), Stoke Bruerne (31/5, 5/7, 2/8, 23/8), Stamford (7/6, 12/7, 5/8, 16/8, 20/9) and Rockingham (17/5, 21/6, 9/8, 27/8, 27/9). The Hellidon and Rockingham routes include some new attractions, but unfortunately Althorp House is no longer served.

Surrey is operating a similar network to last year. There are also a few buses in West Kent -- leisure services from Sevenoaks to Westerham and Chartwell and from Tunbridge Wells to Bewl Water, as well as all year services linking Swanley with Sevenoaks, West Kingsdown and Dartford.

In the Cotswolds the news is generally good. Southern Vectis is preparing a comprehensive timetable on behalf of Glos CC. Stagecoach has put on an hourly express X50 between Oxford, Stratford and Birmingham. From Stratford there are improved services 21 and 22 to Chipping Campden, Broadway, Moreton in Marsh and Bourton in the Water. The last has a Guide Friday tour to nearby villages (the Swells and Slaughters). The Cotswold Explorer continues to run, though unfortunately it no longer serves Snowshill. Further west, there's a new North Worcestershire Countryside service between Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Barnt Green; the 192 between Birmingham, Kidderminster, Ludlow and Hereford threatened by Shropshire CC cuts has been reprieved; the Wye Valley Wanderer runs between Pershore and Chepstow as last year, this time with local bus connections at Chepstow for Newport; the Malverns service runs in a shorter season on a revised route including West Malvern. Still further west, the Heart of Wales Rambler is not running this year, though there is still one Sunday train in each direction on this line. And to the south, a ``Wiltshire Wigglybus'' is planned operating a flexible route between Pewsey and Devizes every hour; could this become a model for other rural areas?

In the Peak District services are much the same as last year. The Derwent Valley minibuses run Saturdays as well as Sundays and use interesting cross-country routes to/from Chesterfield. But there have been heavy cuts in the Yorkshire Dales; despite some route extensions in Nidderdale, many connecting routes including Grassington to Pateley Bridge no longer run.

In the North York Moorsthe network has been enhanced by a new ``Cleveland Way Explorer'' between Osmotherly and Chop Gate. In the Lake District there are several new services: Buttermere-Ennerdale (to be confirmed), Grizedale-Far Sawrey (Lake Windermere ferry) and Kendal-Dent (Suns), while other services have a longer season, and the Penrith to Patterdale route will run on Sundays. The Kentmere Rambler has new routes, no longer serving Strawberry Bank on Sats and serving Sedbergh and Dent rather than Arnside on Suns. The following routes have been cut: Carlisle/Workington-Solway Coast (Suns), Keswick-Ravenglass (Sats/Suns), and Carlisle-Alston (Sats).

Action Line.

  1. Please renew your subscription (GBP 3.50 ordinary, GBP 2.50 concessionary, GBP 5 household or affiliate).
  2. 2. Cambridge area members, please circulate and return the petitions.
  3. 3. Please send comments on the enclosed document on regenerating bus services.

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