As promised here are full details of the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study proposals and our reaction to them. It is of the utmost importance that as many people as possible put the case for giving public transport and other sustainable modes priority over cars and lorries.
At the time of writing notice has been given of a public meeting on the proposals, organised by the Huntingdon & Godmanchester Civic Society, with a speaker from the CHUMMS team and also Nick Dibben from the Railway Development Society. This will be at 8.00 on Wed 6 Dec in the Queen Elizabeth School next to the Chinese Bridge in Godmanchester.
It should be possible to obtain one of the information packs either by leaving your name with CHUMMS at the meeting or (for those who can't come) by ringing John Brown of GO East at 01234 796084. For questionnaire forms, the official closing date for return to Judy Howlett, Mouchel TSC, The Colonnades, Beaconsfield Road, Hatfield, Herts AL10 8YJ is 9 Dec, and we were told that comments could be accepted until around Christmas; but since then we have been led to understand that the consultation period may be extended.
There will also be display panels, which may be seen during normal opening hours, at Cambridge Central Library (4-9 Dec) and Huntingdon District Council offices (11-15 Dec).
The following ideas are being considered for short term implementation independently of the four options: village traffic calming; signals at the Brampton Hut and Spittals roundabouts; improvements to speed control, access control, access layouts and rest areas on the A14; bus priorities in Cambridge and Huntingdon; and cycling and walking enhancements. Also, in the medium term, Felixstowe-Nuneaton rail upgrade and the East-West Rail Link.
All options include retaining conventional bus services on the existing A14 corridor and providing improved services from Bar Hill to the City Centre and Science Park.
Here are the distinguishing features of the various options.
A: For public transport, Option 1 involves a guided busway from Godmanchester to Trumpington and the proposed Addenbrookes station site. The route will start just east of the A14 Godmanchester junction, follow the existing A14 almost to Galley Hill, swing across to St Ives east of the by-pass, then follow old or existing rail routes the rest of the way, including along the main line through the City. (This is said to be dependent on remodelling Cambridge station and other measures on this section of line.) Guided buses would run through to/from Cambridge City Centre and Milton (via the Milton Road corridor, there may be a new A14 crossing from Milton), Cottenham (via Histon), St Ives estates and town centre (via St Ives), and Huntingdon and Godmanchester estates and town centre (via Godmanchester). There will also be feeder buses from Oakington, Longstanton, Willingham, Over, Fenstanton, Fen Drayton, Swavesey and the Hemingfords. Cost: GBP 75-80m + GBP 6.9-9.3m annual operating costs.
B: The guided busway is also provided in Options 2 and 4. The main difference is that it runs through to Huntingdon Rail Station on the formation of the existing A14. Cost: a further GBP 5m.
C: Option 3 includes either heavy or light rail between Cambridge and Huntingdon. The light rail route is identical to that proposed for the guided busway under Options 2 and 4 (and likewise dependent on rail remodelling within Cambridge), but the heavy rail route would diverge at Swavesey to run north of St Ives, Wyton and Huntingdon and join the main line near the Huntingdon Northern By-pass. Both options would serve Trumpington; under the light rail option the route would follow the old line, under the heavy rail option it would diverge south of the Addenbrookes station. Other station sites are Barnwell Junction (though it's called Coldhams Lane), Science Park (Milton Road), Histon, Oakington, Longstanton, Swavesey, then under the light rail option St Ives (east of by-pass) and Godmanchester (east of junction), and under the heavy rail option St Ives North (B1040) and Wyton (A141 just north of existing runway). Cost of either option: GBP 35-40m pounds above the cost of guided bus. In terms of operating costs light rail would add GBP 0.5m per year and heavy rail would save GBP 4.2-5.7m per year.
D: Options 1-3 include congestion charging for Cambridge. No estimate appears to be given for how much this would raise.
E: Options 2-4 include a new dual 2 lane road link from the A141/A1123 junction at Hartford to the existing A14 junction at Godmanchester, together with the closure of the existing A14 between Godmanchester and Spittals (for reuse as a busway or light railway).
F: Option 3 includes a new A14 from east of Ellington to east of Fen Ditton. This would follow the proposed heavy rail corridor between the East Coast Main Line and near Rampton. There would be interchanges with the A1 (north of Brampton Hut), A14 Alconbury branch (west of Spittals), A141 (near the Wyton station site), A1123 (west of Needingworth), new spur road to the Girton interchange (near Rampton), A10 (north end of Milton), and existing northern by-pass (near where it crosses the old Mildenhall railway). The road would be dual 3 lane west of Rampton, with both the main line and the Girton spur dual 2 lane.
G: Options 2 and 4 include diverting the A14 between east of Ellington and south of Godmanchester, with an interchange with the A1 just north of the existing Brampton/Buckden junction, and access to the A1198 at Godmanchester. This road would be dual 2 lane west of the A1 and dual 3 lane east.
H: Options 2 and 4 include widening the Cambridge Northern By-pass to dual 4 lane west of the A10 and dual 3 lane east, with improvements to Histon and Milton junctions.
I: Option 2 includes extending route G to meet the existing A14 at a new junction south of Fen Drayton; the whole route to Girton would be dual 3 lane. There would be no access to/from the A14 between the new junction and Girton, this section having a parallel local road.
J: Option 4 includes extending route G to run west of the A1198 to Caxton Gibbet then to take over the A428 (with the existing stretch retained for local use) to the Madingley junction, then south-east to meet the M11 at the Barton junction. Interchanges at Caxton Gibbet, Cambourne, Hardwick, Madingley and Barton.
K: Options 2 and 3 include modifications to M11 junctions 13 and 14 (High Cross and Girton).
L: Option 4 includes ``potential'' improvements to A428 between Caxton Gibbet and St Neots.
Highway costs: Option 1 nil, Options 2/4 GBP 210-230m, Option 3 GBP 280-300m. (Does the cost for Option 4 include that for the already committed A428 widening?)
An outline strategy has been agreed within the Cambridgeshire Sustainable Transport Forum:
1. Light rail (initially between Cambridge and St Ives) built to allow for future additional heavy rail use - to be seen as the first stage towards a light rail system for the travel-to-work area of the City.
2. Heavy rail in the same corridor as part of strategic East-West route connecting to East Coast main line (in both directions) and using, if possible, the line of the present A14 to Huntingdon station. If this is not feasible, light rail should use this route.
3. Implementation of heavy rail scheme is not to delay other improvements as part of urgently needed Felixstowe-Nuneaton scheme.
4. Huntingdon Southern bypass to allow for 2 above. Care must be taken to minimise the impact on Brampton Wood Nature Reserve.
5. Abandonment of Highways Agency plans for further A428 widening (which will only increase rat-running from the A14 and congestion on the approach to Cambridge). Instead, this corridor should be a priority for further investment in light rail.
6. A series of inter-modal interchanges and associated cycleways/footpaths to enable residents of neighbouring villages to access public transport by a variety of modes: walk, cycle, local bus, car (both ``park & ride'' and ``kiss & ride''). This is needed not just for any new facility but also - in the shorter term - for existing services on the A14 and A428.
7. Consideration of the role of information systems and multi-modal ``Travelcards'' in encouraging public transport use.
8. Strategic cycle routes (e.g. alongside railway) to encourage journeys by cycle.
9. If, even with the above public transport measures, more road capacity is needed, then we support limited on-line widening of existing A14 with at least some of the extra road space used to give priority to buses (and perhaps other classes of traffic). Inter-modal interchange at Bar Hill as part of any such scheme.
10. Road-user charging in Cambridge with proceeds used towards public-transport network.
11. A proper system of priority for public transport, cycling and walking within the City (we must bite the bullet of reallocating road space).
12. Strategies to reduce traffic and car-dependence in Huntingdon and St Ives.
13. A proper appraisal of the positive impact of Travel for Work plans.
14. Measures to reduce the need to travel (use of information technology, delivery services, local facilities).
Here are some more detailed comments on which feedback would be welcome. In general we believe that a ``mix & match'' strategy is needed as all options are unsatisfactory in different ways. As far as public transport is concerned, there is little to choose between all the ``guided bus'' options (1, 2, 4), but we believe that the rail option (3) is best at both strategic (heavy rail) and local (light rail) levels. But option 3 is the worst in highway terms. As stated above, if some extra road capacity is necessary, we would go for a scaled down version of 2, but there are some arguments in favour of 4 if the A428 is going to be widened anyway.
A/B: We remain unconvinced that a guided busway would provide substantially better services than conventional buses on existing roads with bus priorities, perhaps centred on the Airfield road between Longstanton and Oakington. The major problem of peak time access to the City Centre from the Science Park interchange does not seem to have been adequately dealt with. Using the main railway line through Cambridge as a busway may conflict with improvements to cycling facilities.
C: We see no reason why the rail proposals only appear in Option 3. This would provide the least favourable environment for rail as the A14 will be directly parallel. Also, there is no mention of the possibility of track sharing between light and heavy rail (pioneered in Karlsruhe, Germany); or the extension of the light railway (as a street tramway) to Cambridge City Centre.
There are three basic route options for rail: restoring the old route (I); the southern route following the A14 south of the Hemingfords (II); and the northern route via Wyton (III). CHUMMS proposes II for guided bus or light rail and III for heavy rail. While I is likely to be unsuitable for heavy rail, it is our preferred option for light rail.
We regard the heavy rail scheme as fundamental to regional integration of the rail network, with East-West trains connecting at Huntingdon with Inter-City trains to the North. Under option III, any trains from Ipswich and Cambridge to Peterborough could miss out Huntingdon, but connections should be available to/from the south at a new station at Abbots Ripton or Wood Walton (which would serve Alconbury Airfield and proposed new housing in Ramsey, if these developments go ahead).
There is also potential for using the route for freight, especially if a cut-off is built between north of Waterbeach and Longstanton (with new stations serving Cottenham, the Research Park at Landbeach, and the proposed housing development north of Waterbeach, and the route used for through Norwich-Swindon trains avoiding the detour via Cambridge). Note that the purpose of the Felixstowe-Nuneaton rail upgrade is to enable freight to use this route instead of the existing route via the Great Eastern Main Line, the North London Line, and the West Coast Main Line; additional investment will be needed for future increases in passenger and freight traffic, and the St Ives line corridor would provide for this need.
D: We support the principle of charging motorists, either through congestion charging or by taxing workplace and other private non-residential parking. Our preference, however, would be for the latter applied throughout the area, as this would provide incentives to developers to choose locations with good access by sustainable modes of transport. Why no congestion charging in Option 4? Note that it is this deficiency, rather than the increased road capacity per se, which has led the modellers to predict a rise of 30% in Cambridge traffic under this option.
E: We strongly oppose this road which would further impact on Huntingdon's riverside environment. Another option would be to retain part of the existing A14 formation for local traffic to Huntingdon and to close Town Bridge (between Godmanchester and Huntingdon) to motor vehicles except buses.
F: We strongly oppose the road proposals of Option 3 which will undermine the viability of public transport on the railway corridor and have major environmental impact on the villages thereon. Also the opportunity has not been taken to use the removal of traffic on the existing A14 to develop a busway.
G: We are concerned about the section between Ellington and the A1 which would pass near Brampton Wood Nature Reserve. Instead we suggest using the existing A14 and A1 to the existing Brampton/Buckden junction, and providing a footbridge linking up with the public bridleway from the A1 to Brampton Wood; we would not oppose widening the relevant section of the A1 to carry A14 through traffic. We would accept the section of road between the A1 and A1198 as a price worth paying to get through traffic off the existing A14.
H: We strongly oppose widening the Cambridge Northern By-pass except to provide a busway. Interchanges are too close to make dual 4 lanes viable anyway.
I: The cost of this option could probably be reduced -- at the expense of lesser relief to Fenstanton -- by sending A14 traffic along the existing road in one direction and confining the new road to being one way. There should still be room on the existing road corridor to provide for the needs of buses, cyclists and local traffic.
J: This option may not be too bad if the A428 is going to be widened anyway. Putting a busway on the existing A14 would minimise traffic generation. However, this option will duplicate the proposed Papworth By-pass, and to avoid impact on the Coton area we would prefer to see new slip roads between the A428 and M11.
K: There is an urgent need to provide bus and cycle crossings of the A14 at both Milton and Histon (a cycle crossing at Milton is already under way). This would form part of a ``busway'' separating buses from other traffic on these corridors.
L: We oppose any further dualling of the A428; the logical conclusion of such a programme would be an east-west superhighway which would generate enormous amounts of traffic and undermine the viability of the East-West Rail Link.
Our AGM was held on Sat 2 Dec. This ratified the changes to our constitution detailed in the last newsletter and re-elected our Committee and Representatives as shown at the head of this newsletter. Copies of the Activities and Financial reports presented to the AGM are below.
There are still a few members who haven't renewed. If your newsletter has a renewal slip please send a subscription to the Coordinator as soon as possible; if there is difficulty with this (e.g. for organisations with procedures to go through) then please confirm that you intend to remain and will send a renewal in due course.
(Financial statement omitted from web edition.)
This is the issue that dominated most of the year, as in 1999.
In 1999 the Cambridgeshire Sustainable Transport Forum (CSTF) resolved to set up a specific campaign group for buses in the Cambridge area. This has now been implemented. The group is called the Cambridge Area Bus Users Campaign (CAMBUC) and, along with Cambridge Friends of the Earth and Cambs CPRE, Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk agreed to give the group GBP 20 towards its setting up costs.
While the group was being set up, the subsidiaries of Stagecoach, who are the main operators in the county, were preparing major changes to the county's network, which have now been implemented. These have caused considerable hardship to many bus users in some villages, and CAMBUC held a meeting in one of the affected villages (Waterbeach) at which various ideas, including some worked out by Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk, were discussed.
The new network extends direct Cambridge-Newmarket buses to Ely replacing a link via Burwell, and introduces new fast services between Cambridge and Ely continuing to Wisbech or Kings Lynn. Connections to the new network from local villages are poor, making journeys to Ely from Milton, Landbeach, Waterbeach and Burwell difficult for many people. But on another corridor, Cambridge-Huntingdon-Peterborough, the fast service has disappeared completely (except for a limited peak time service) -- and this on a corridor where the need for improved public transport to take cars off the road is becoming ever more acute.
Our campaign to get Cambridge-Newmarket express buses to stop at Bottisham appears to have borne fruit -- though some local people are still dissatisfied because the bus stops on the main road rather than going into the village. Further east on the same corridor, though, the corridor linking Kennett, Kentford and Bury is still without buses because, following the repair of the bridge in Kentford village, Cambus refused to resume the old route.
It remains our opinion that the lack of any statutory forum for consideration of grievances of bus users, or to enable bus operators and local authorities procuring supported services to coordinate with one another, remains a big stumbling block to the promotion of buses as an effective mode of transport.
Another obstacle is the failure to promote such long distance connectional facilities as do exist. We believe that Stagecoach United Counties abused their agreement to link their X5 Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford service up with Virgin trains by cutting and reducing the reliability of the Bedford-Northampton connection which provides a more direct route to/from the Midlands -- and they have followed this up by reacting to deteriorating timekeeping by the X5 by making timetable changes which have made the connections worse than ever.
Cuts by Suffolk and Essex County Councils in autumn 1999 removed the facility to travel from Cambridge and other places in the area to many places on the Suffolk and Essex coasts, and these were not restored in summer 2000.
Our statement in last year's report that those who complained about their bus services risked seeing them disappear may have been borne out in another part of the country -- at least, a correspondent told us that complaints about the timekeeping of Stagecoach Oxford's X39 (Oxford-Heathrow) has led, after a short period in which a poorly advertised connectional facility was supported by the relevant local authority, to the complete loss of the section east of Henley (the remainder having been replaced at lower frequency by another operator).
In five out of the six counties in the Eastern Region (the one exception being Suffolk) the availability of printed timetable information has deteriorated in the last year. We will not be satisfied if the Government pledge of better information is confined to those who make telephone enquiries -- especially in view of the doubling of BT payphone rates.
Still on the subject of information, we are dissatisfied with the publicity the County Council gave to changes to the Cambridge bus network consequent on roadworks (scheduled to last 3 months) at Bridge St. Several of the affected stops bear no information at all, and even where information is available the lack of a map will make it of little use to those who don't know the city. And there were plenty of these in Cambridge at that time of year!
At the time of writing Cambs County Council is about to release a draft Bus Strategy which, we suspect, will be short on detail, with the result that the Council will be able to continue its current strategy whatever the consultation comes up with. However, we plan to put to the consultation our list of ``packages'' which show how it would be practicable to cover the whole county with a comprehensive network. One particular feature will be a connectional network based on the A428 corridor between Cambridge and Northampton.
The new administration of Cambridge City Council is putting money into buses, in this case evening buses for the City. We will be preparing a plan for a ``Cambridge Inter-Urban Quality Partnership'', which we will be asking the Council to coordinate, with the aim of improving facilities (including information) about longer distance travel opportunities to/from Cambridge.
The summer season saw the county's main operator, WAGN, improve Sunday trains to many of the smaller stations in the area, including the reopening of Shelford and Whittlesford, the latter having been one of our campaign objectives for some time. Otherwise there has been little change.
More recently it has been announced that WAGN is giving up the franchise for the Great Northern section from next year, enabling it to be thrown in with Thameslink for when the Thameslink 2000 scheme (currently in public inquiry) gets under way. In our opinion, not until this is finished will we be able to say that the Great Northern Electrification project, which began over 25 years ago, is complete! We hope that the refranchising of the Great Northern services will not result in any disadvantage to users, including ticket interavailability with the West Anglia route.
Towards the end of 1999 Rail Property Ltd (the former British Rail Property Board) publicised lists of former railway land for sale. We inspected the list and liaised with relevant organisations throughout the region to expedite the campaign to avoid the sabotage of future rail development prospects.
The East-West Rail Link continues to pursue its peregrination in search of finance. We believe that significant benefits can only accrue to Cambridgeshire if it is combined with the St Ives line. We have tried to push this point in the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study (CHUMMS) now under way.
The Alconbury multi-modal distribution centre is now nearing the public inquiry stage. We plan to make representations on the proposed Quality Bus network (which represents our main hope for progress in getting an integrated network for the sub-region) as well as the rail link (where we intend to push the need for a competitive rail route from Felixstowe to the depot to take traffic off the A14).
However, the main event of the year has been the gross over-reaction by Railtrack to the Hatfield derailment in mid October. The speed restrictions imposed, together with large scale flooding, have made a nightmare of long distance travel by rail, throwing extra traffic onto the roads which presents a far greater safety problem. The rail operators haven't relaxed their peak restrictions to allow for longer journey times, so someone needing to arrive by a given time may be forced to pay several times as much (a factor of over 5 has been recorded). The flood closures have shown how the network has become more vulnerable since the Beeching era closures.
The resulting massive increase in road traffic has led to congestion, particularly affecting users of coaches many of which also have insufficient capacity to cater for diverted rail passengers. Meanwhile medium distance local bus services which might have provided an alternative have continued to disappear, partly because longer routes are subject to more stringent driving hours regulations -- an anomaly that nobody seems to be tackling.
The consultation options for CHUMMS appeared a week ago at the time of writing. The bad news is that the ``maximum public transport'' option is not in fact proposing much in the way of improvements -- just a more frequent service on a guided bus network on the St Ives line corridor with no proof that it will prove more successful in attracting passengers than what we already have. The good news is that the other options are no worse for public transport, and one is better as it proposes a heavy or light railway. Unfortunately this one is also the most damaging because of it proposes to divert the A14 adjacent to the rail route.
We continue to oppose the dualling of the A428 between Cambridge and Caxton Gibbet which will encourage rat-running from the A14, thus saturating Cambridge's Madingley Road corridor with traffic, and affecting villages in the area. The former danger will be further exacerbated if Cambs CC proceed with their proposed Papworth by-pass. Dualling of a shorter section around Cambourne is expected to proceed soon, funded by the Cambourne developer as a result of a Section 106 agreement, and here we are also concerned at the withdrawal of a plan to build a bridge on the line of an existing bridleway, especially as the site of the bridge would also be suitable for providing access to a bus stop on the A428 for express service X5.
We will be represented on the Wider Reference Group for the London-S Midlands Multi-Modal Study which has just started at the time of writing.
We have already mentioned the Alconbury scheme. Another scheme which we regard as closely linked is the Ramsey Western Development. This was turned down after a public inquiry but has recently been resubmitted; we are objecting on the grounds of inadequate provision for public transport. Our proposals have considerable overlap with those for Alconbury.
We have given evidence at the Public Inquiry into a proposed Motorway Service Area at Duxford. While we oppose the scheme, we are also concerned to ensure that the site can be used for a multi-modal transport interchange, and to try to secure changes to the County Council's ``Duxford Safety Scheme'' which threatens to disrupt bus route 103 between Cambridge and Duxford, and which has been put on hold pending the inquiry.
Peterborough's Millennium Green Wheel, a cycle route orbiting the city, has now officially opened, though there is one bridge that is not yet open. We are concerned at the possible effects on the existing access route to Flag Fen Museum, which is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the region; we have been told that the new visitor centre will not be accessible from the existing bus route. The nearest access will in fact be from Kings Dyke the other side of the river and outside Peterborough City.
The Cambridge Grand Arcade and Cattle Market schemes have been approved, and Sutton's factory outlet scheme turned down. The Waitrose superstore in Trumpington is now open. The last we opposed, and we think the Cattle Market scheme could be implemented more sustainably. The planning system still leads to ``planning drift'' -- the gradual replacement of traditional facilities by car-oriented developments.
We are not convinced that the Local Transport Plan process is a significant improvement on the old Transport Policies & Programmes process in developing county transport policies. For example, the Government Office for Eastern England, which decides the funding for LTPs in our region, seems unable to refuse funding for schemes that we regard as unsustainable (e.g. Duxford, see above).
We have continued to participate in CSTF, in the regional group STEER, in the Transport Working Groups of Peterborough Environment City Trust and the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity. We have also continued to send our newsletters to local group coordinators and local representatives in the surrounding region. We attended the first meeting of the Peterborough-Norwich Rail Partnership. As stated previously, we helped in the setting up of the new bus user group CAMBUC, though the simultaneous suggestion of CSTF that we needed a group to promote the interests of walkers has not been acted on.
A new issue emerged this year -- fuel tax. In September hauliers blockaded oil depots as part of a protest against fuel taxes, though the main reason for oil price rises was an increase in the price of crude, and the real problem for hauliers was over-capacity in the industry. The hauliers probably wouldn't have got public support had they not tapped the resentment many motorists feel about fuel tax. Many motorists were supporting the protest in the full knowledge that it might endanger food distribution, though the protest was called off before it came to that.
The fuel panic led to a welcome reduction in traffic levels, but it also endangered public transport and other essential services because fuel supplies weren't prioritised, though the Government did take steps which might have led to this had the protest re-emerged.
In the aftermath we tried to show how the very worst thing the Government could do was to give in to the protest; it was the fact that fuel was in fact very cheap (motoring costs having remained unchanged in real terms over the last 25 years, while rail and bus fares had risen by over 50%) that had led to the extraordinary dependence on supplies which had enabled the protestors to gain a high profile. Furthermore, unless we, and the world in general, respond to increases in the price of crude by moderating our consumption, price rises will continue and throw the world into recession. Is it worth ruining our economy just so that people can travel alone rather than in groups?
Unfortunately the Government, while it didn't give in to the protestors' demands, did promise price relief for motorists and hauliers in its pre-Budget statement. Incidentally, by allowing hauliers to stay in business it made a mockery of the expectation, when it approved 44 tonne lorries for general use, that this would mean fewer lorries on the roads. And to the extent that hauliers compete with bus operators for employees, it worsened the staff shortages felt by Stagecoach and other bus operators throughout the country. Meanwhile, rail users were subject to huge price rises (see above) and in the very week of the pre-Budget statement Cambus put its fares up by what we estimated as equivalent to 8p per litre.
(End of report)
We start with the rail crisis. Recent press coverage has highlighted the extent to which over-reaction to the Hatfield derailment has done more damage than the accident itself. The number of crashes on Cambridgeshire roads went up from 637 in September to 877 in November becase of increased traffic (the fuel crisis may also have been a factor here). Businesses in northern England are complaining that they are now feeling ever more remote from the South because of the difficulty of making business trips by rail -- and, of course, the north-south divide causes environmental damage to the South (and East Anglia) as well as economic damage to the North. A recent newspaper letter showed how the railway industry was taking more money from passengers for a far worse service -- someone who would normally have paid GBP 30 found the fare increasing to GBP 152 as a result of having to leave earlier to allow for longer journey times.
Then there's the fuel crisis. We said last time that the Government should have reacted by giving the haulage industry help to restructure by reducing the excess capacity. According to an article in the Transport 2000 national newsletter, the Swedish government have promised to do just that. (For details contact Malcolm Fergusson at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, Dean Bradley House, 52 Horseferry Rd, London SW1P 2AG, 0207 799 2244. Since then two further reasons have emerged for pursuing this course: it might make sense of the Government's statement, when giving the go-ahead for 44 tonne lorries, that this would mean fewer lorries on the road; and some of the staff might be offered the opportunity to retrain as bus drivers and thus relieve the bottleneck that has given Cambs CC (and no doubt other local authorities) an excuse to say that they are not in a position to pursue significant bus improvements at present.
This leads on to the third crisis: bus staffing. From the point of view of the Cambridge and Huntingdon areas, possible solutions are to reserve affordable housing for bus drivers (as we have urged in our comments on the Cambridge Northern Fringe consultation -- note that this area is close to the city's two main bus depots); to set up agencies for drivers who can be called upon if need be (though this may lead to problems of route knowledge); and to encourage new operators from the Fenland area where labour is more available (existing operators are already looking there, but we suggest it would be better to use operators based in Fenland).
The fourth crisis is the most important of all: global warming. It wasn't the fault of either our government or the French that the recent climate change talks in The Hague failed; the fault lies squarely with the Americans and their allies who seemed to be more interested in securing political points at home than tackling a global problem. We hope that the European Union will act unilaterally by using future trade talks as bargaining power to force the US into line. One must remember that traffic reduction is not a matter of making sacrifices to save our environment, but an oppportunity for major improvements in the quality of life.
Those who hoped that the replacement of the old Transport Policies & Programmes procedure for local transport authorities by the Local Transport Plan system would lead to more sustainability have been severely disappointed; at the time of writing indications are that local authorities have used the system as ``greenwash'' to persuade government regional offices that their pet road schemes are in accordance with the principles of sustainability, and submissions by environmental groups presenting an alternative point of view have met with the response that they cannot consider the merits of specific schemes.
Two particular road schemes that have attracted strong local opposition are the Lancaster Western By-pass and the Weymouth Relief Road. Other schemes that will consolidate the car as the only mode of transport able to cater for people's needs are the Carlisle Northern Development Road, the Spalding to Eye improvement (which affects the area covered by our group), the Horsham to Capel improvement, and the Barnstaple Western By-pass. It should be said that the last sentence is based on a quick scan of the list by the Coordinator and should not be taken to represent Transport 2000 policy.
One particular problem is the lack of executive powers by local authorities to shape bus and rail services to local needs. This has led them to concentrate on what they can do, namely, build roads. In principle the new Government legislation will allow them to set up Quality Contract schemes to control local buses, but the Government regards this very much as a last resort. In fact the principles of Quality Contracts are very common in other parts of the world, not to mention London, and we believe that the greater local authority controls is one of the reasons for the relative success of buses in such areas. (Mind you, there is lots of room for improving London's buses...)
We have been invited to serve on the Wider Reference Group in the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study, which will cover a wide area whose outer limit is a little beyond the area bounded by the M11, M25, M1 and A14.
Closer to home, there is not much to add to what is in our Activities Report above. Our submission to the Cambridge Northern Fringe consultation has mentioned the opportunity to attract bus drivers to affordable housing, as mentioned above; we have also emphasised the need to ensure public transport links are available when housing and employment comes on stream, to balance housing with employment, the opportunities for attracting Fenland commuters to employment near the proposed Chesterton Parkway station, and the need to provide local links for cyclists, walkers and buses.
Not much this time. The 38 commuter service from Linton to London which we reported as having been withdrawn last time has been restored as service X38 with a new operator, Burtons of Haverhill. Accordingly the route now starts from Haverhill instead of Linton. Apart from the commuter service on Mondays to Fridays, there is a return trip for shoppers on Saturdays, which runs via Romford. Connections can be made there for Lakeside and Bluewater shopping centres, and for many other parts of Essex, Kent and East London. Times are Haverhill 08.25 return 19.35; Saffron Walden 08.55 return 19.05; and Romford 09.50 return 18.05.
There have been important changes in West Norfolk. The new Downham Market rural minibus does round trips on Mondays to Fridays (only) to Marham, Stoke Ferry and Nordelph. However the last two are essentially part replacements of the routes to Wisbech and Thetford, both of which have been severely cut (as we reported last time for Wisbech). Some communities gain service but this could equally well have been achieved in the previous network.
Finally, we have got hold of a new Cambs CC timetable for South Cambridgeshire. This has a new cover design and seems to be part of a new series of 5 booklets covering the county (except probably for Cambridge and Huntingdon urban routes, and, of course, Peterborough). We regard the halving of the number of areas as a positive step, and hope that this means they can produce more frequent updates. But there is an urgent need to improve distribution -- the only copy we have seen came from outside the county (in Haverhill)!
Here is a list of things to do -- see earlier in newsletter for further details.
1. Respond to the CHUMMS consultation.
2. Write to your MP urging that the Government should study and adopt the Swedish proposals for restructuring the road haulage industry instead of cutting fuel tax and thereby further stimulating traffic growth and car dependence.
3. Write to your MEPs asking the EU to study ways to force the Americans and their allies to take the global warming problem seriously.