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The consultants responsible for the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study (CHUMMS) have now issued a summary report on their preferred option. Their full report is expected around the end of this month.
We believe that their conclusions are very unsatisfactory. There are several likely reasons for this:
1. The remit of the study was incomplete -- failing to give enough weight to the problems of the A428 corridor or to Cambridge City's traffic problems.
2. The public consultation exercise was defective in that the rail option only figured in one of the packages offered, and the worst in its highway proposals at that. While it was later accepted that people had the option to ``mix and match'', it is highly likely that many people failed to support the rail option because they felt it was associated with the relevant road scheme.
3. The options considered by the consultants were not very imaginative. In part this may be because they felt restricted by options which could be financed within the existing system, which provides ``blue sky'' finance for roads through the Highways Agency but is much more restrictive for public transport -- partly because of the problems caused by privatisation.
Ignoring various relatively small and mostly uncontroversial proposals, the preferred proposals are as follows:
(a) New off-line route for A14 between near Ellington (west of the A1) and near Fen Drayton, dual 2 lane west of the A1 and dual 3 lane east.
(b) Widen the A14 between near Fen Drayton and Fen Ditton to dual 3 lane, with a local road between Fen Drayton and Girton.
(c) Guided busway following the rail route between Cambridge station and St Ives, with guided buses then continuing along the A1096 and A14 to Huntingdon station. There would also be various feeder routes or through running to surrounding areas (the document is not very clear on this).
(d) In the longer term, an eastern by-pass for Huntingdon.
(e) Demand management -- with road user charges as perhaps the most effective tool -- for traffic entering Cambridge.
Our main misgivings with the scheme are as follows.
A: The rhetoric of the plan is to start by improving public transport and then go for highway improvements if it is still necessary. However given that the latter are to cost between 3 and 4 times the former it seems as if they have given up on public transport improvements far too soon.
B: Indeed, public transport users will see very little in the way of benefits. The guided busway is about 15 miles between Cambridge (city centre via Histon Road) and Galley Hill, as opposed to 10 miles by the A14, so the route will be uncompetitive. There are no significant benefits for longer distance users. The guided busway principle is far from proven in practice (for example a recently opened system in Nancy, France has had to be closed down) and it is even less clear that it will actually attract passengers out of their cars.
C: Converting the old railway line to a guided busway will prevent its use as a railway, for which there is a real strategic need.
D: Several of the highway elements of the scheme are highly damaging environmentally (the Huntingdon Eastern By-pass will affect the Ouse Valley and the new A14 west of the A1 will affect Brampton Wood Nature Reserve), and others can only exacerbate the traffic problems of Cambridge City (the widening of the A428, already in the roads programme, and the Cambridge Northern By-pass).
E: Building a guided busway along the existing rail corridor through the City may well prevent the provision of a cycle and pedestrian route.
However, we believe that the plan can be adapted to something that we could live with. We suggest the following:
(1) The guided busway should follow the direct route between Cambridge and Huntingdon via the proposed local road and using one carriageway of the section of existing A14 which is to be replaced by the new off-line road. Incidentally the latter could be shortened by about a mile without reducing the relief to Fenstanton, with a park & ride site at the resited junction. In due course a branch to Cambourne could be added to avoid problems on the A428.
(2) The new road should follow the A1 for a short distance south from Brampton Hut (widening would be acceptable, though we need a bridge where it is crossed by the bridleway between Brampton West End and Brampton Wood), and the dual 3 lane section should be confined to between the A1198 and Histon, with a bus priority route east from there leading to a dedicated junction for Cambridge Regional College and the Science Park. The Huntingdon Eastern By-pass should be abandoned.
(3) The railway between Cambridge and Huntingdon should be reopened as soon as possible as part of the East-West Rail Link with trains running between Ipswich and Swindon via Cambridge, Huntingdon and Bedford. The latter station should become an interchange with Inter-City trains on the East Coast Main Line. Should CHUMMS funding run out then alternative funding could be found by way of developments in the area (Oakington, Wyton, Alconbury...), through the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study, or from receipts from road user charges.
(4) Road user charges should apply throughout the Cambridge sub-region to prevent migration of businesses to sites that are even more car dependent.
(5) The access which would be provided between the existing A14 and Brampton Road in Huntingdon should be used to remove cars from Town Bridge (the one that links Huntingdon with Godmanchester) and thus remove traffic from Godmanchester. Buses and non-motorised users would continue to be able to use the bridge. Direct bus access should be provided from Brampton Road to the bus station without having to go all the way round the ring road.
(6) New stations should be built at Abbots Ripton (or Wood Walton) and Offord to relieve Huntingdon and serve new developments in the area at Alconbury, Ramsey etc.
(7) If the A428 widening goes ahead, then its traffic should not be allowed to use Madingley Road to access the M11 or the existing park & ride site (which should be replaced by one further out). Direct slip roads should be provided between the A428 and M11. The proposed Papworth By-pass should be replaced by a roundabout near the existing A428/B1040 junction and also serving the eastern approach to Elitsley village, together with bollards in Papworth to stop extraneous through traffic.
(8) Bus priority routes should be provided to avoid the A14 roundabouts on both the Histon and Milton corridors. The former should also have facilities for cyclists. (Work is already under way on providing a cycle bridge at Milton.) Traffic off the A14 roundabout should be discouraged from using Histon Road.
However, we should emphasise that the decision making process is far from over. The next stage is that the scheme will be considered by our Regional Assembly around October. The public has the chance to make its views known to the Assembly through its representatives on District and County Council. So please do so ! Write to your district and county councillors and urge them to recognise the strategic advantages of a rail link between Cambridge and Huntingdon, or of putting the guided busway on the more direct route following the existing A14.
The Cambridgeshire Sustainable Transport Forum may be organising a meeting, primarily for members of its constituent groups including Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk, probably early in September. If this meeting goes ahead we shall try to circulate you all through the next newsletter. However if you want to find out sooner then contact our Assistant Coordinator from 29 July onwards.
We enclose herewith a renewal form for relevant members. Please renew as soon as possible to avoid the need for reminders. Our rates are still unchanged: GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household or affiliate. For an extra GBP 8 members may opt to receive Transport 2000's quarterly national newsletter ``Transport Retort''; members are also entitled to half price membership of the Cambridge Area Bus Users Campaign (CAMBUC), and the Coordinator, as CAMBUC Treasurer, can accept subscriptions; but those who already belong to CAMBUC are urged not to renew at this stage as their current membership does not expire till later this year.
Some recent national news is the rejection by the Government of the Hastings By-pass plans. The Multi-Modal Study concluded that there were doubts as to whether the by-pass scheme would achieve its aim of regenerating the town, but the South-East Regional Assembly still recommended that it should go ahead. However the Government has said ``no''. Well done!
We have continued to attend Route Management Study meetings, which have covered both the A1 (London to Peterborough) and the A428/A421 (Cambridge to M1). Work has started on the Stansted Airport link road from the M11 -- which may lead to tailbacks and delays on coaches to London or serving the airport.
Changes have been made to the scheme for a Leisure Park at Cambridge's Cattle Market site. Apparently Cambridgeshire Constabulary objected to the direct link from the car park to the bridge over the railway on ``security'' grounds. We strongly supported this link as it would enable the car park to be used by station traffic, avoiding duplication and relieving the Station Road area. According to a map we have seen the bridge may be as far south as Hills Road.
We have also updated our comments on the Cambridge Rapid Transit proposal for a guided busway between Cambridge, Trumpington and Addenbrookes, whose developers are interested in running to St Ives. We have no intrinsic objection to the Trumpington route such as we have to use of the St Ives line, but we do have various misgivings about the details of the scheme, notably the prioritisation of park & ride traffic over existing conventional buses.
We have also updated our comments on the Alconbury distribution centre proposals. At the time of writing we will be due to give evidence in September. The delays in the Alconbury process have driven the European group IKEA, who had intended to set up there, to seek a distribution depot near Peterborough, on a site next to the railway but where they have been told it would be impractical to provide a rail link. We hope that the proposal will not be accepted in its present form.
We present here the news that London has officially adopted its plan to impose a GBP 5 charge on cars entering the central area. We believe that this doesn't go far enough (outer London is where traffic is growing most rapidly), and there are too many exemptions (including outside the period 07.00 to 19.00), but at least it's a start, and one which we hope will show the advantages of restricting car traffic.
Stagecoach are at the time of writing consulting on proposals for a new Cambridge City bus network. This would be run by a fleet of single deckers with more room for luggage and wheelchairs. The proposed route network is as follows. Routes A-C would run every 10 minutes, routes D-F every 30 minutes. These would replace existing services 2-8 except for the Oakington section of route 2.
A: Kings Hedges to Cherry Hinton, as route 5 but curtailed at Tesco and running direct along Queen Edith's Way.
B: As route 3 between Fison Road and Cambridge station.
C: From Addenbrookes to Wulfstan Way, Birdwood Road, Mill Road and round the City Centre by a one-way loop also serving the Grafton Centre.
D: Fen Estate to Cherry Hinton (Bridewell Road) via the City Centre and station, Mill Road, Coleridge Road, and the Queen Ediths loop currently served by route 5.
E: Buchan Street to Fulbourn via Histon Road, City Centre, Grafton Centre, Coldhams Lane and Teversham.
F: From a loop round the Science Park to Fulbourn Hospital and Business Park via Chesterton, the City Centre, and Cherry Hinton Road.
This is intended to be a ``simplification'' of the existing network -- a concept with which we have no quarrel as long as key links aren't lost. We haven't been told what is to happen to the section of route 4 south of Addenbrookes, but this is certainly a ``key link''. We are also puzzled by the curtailment of route F short of Fulbourn village, whose inhabitants would welcome more direct buses to the City Centre. We therefore call for the following changes:
(a) Link the eastern ends of routes A and B via Teversham.
(b) Reroute E via Cherry Hinton village instead of Teversham, and F via the railway station, Mill Road, Barnwell Road, Airport Way and Teversham to Fulbourn; these two routes would be linked. (In addition we would like to see E extended to Cambridge Regional College.)
(c) Upgrade 44 to half hourly (replacing the current proposals for route F), with more journeys extending via villages to Haverhill and Newmarket replacing existing routes 45, 46 and the outer section of 115. (The inner section would be covered by our proposed route F.)
(d) Divert 102 and 103 via Addenbrookes. Increase 31 to hourly and run it as a circular via Sawston to provide a joint half hourly service between Trumpington and Sawston with 112. Routes 31 and 103 would provide a joint half hourly service on the Sawston loop currently served by 4, and 31 and 112 between Cambridge and Little Shelford.
The exhibitions which Stagecoach are mounting will probably be over by the time you receive this newsletter, but feel free to send your comments to Stagecoach at 100 Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0DN.
The big news is the starting up of a new 2 hourly service, 7 days a week, between Bury St Edmunds and Stansted Airport via Haverhill, Steeple Bumpstead, Saffron Walden and Stansted Mountfitchet, from 23 July. This will replace several existing journeys between Bury and Haverhill but will provide a new service on the rest of the route, including the restoration of the Sunday service south of Saffron Walden whose loss we complained about in our last newsletter. The route will be numbered X40 and operated by First Eastern Counties -- we presume that their Ranger tickets will be valid. We see opportunities for connections at Audley End (where the bus will be using the B1052 some distance from the station) and for linkage at Bury with the X31 to Norwich Airport (which could easily be extended to Sheringham) and new routes to the seaside on Sundays (which could also connect with X10/11 to/from Cambridge).
The summer rail timetable saw some extra trains on the line through Bury. These were financed by the Rail Passenger Partnership and are the first stage of a scheme that will include the new Cambridge-Norwich service, operated by Anglia, starting autumn 2002.
An extra journey is now running between Wisbech and Downham Market, but the service is still well down on what it was last year.
Whippet has axed the Saturday service on its London route 4, also route 10 which provides a link to Peterborough on Saturdays.
An example of poor planning can be seen in Chelsham Common in Surrey. This had 5 buses per hour on weekdays and 3 on Sundays until last December when the route was cut back to Warlingham as part of major withdrawals by Arriva in the county. In April Surrey CC decided on the level of service it would support -- half hourly on weekdays and every 2 hours on Sundays. What sort of people will this level of service attract to the housing estate being built there ?
Peterborough City Council has now printed a timetable covering all rural and hospital services. This means that only the western part of Cambridgeshire now lacks such a booklet. There is no sign of any service for Flag Fen, where the new visitor centre is expected to open at the end of this month -- best option is to get an X7 to Kings Dyke and walk from there.
In Felixstowe attempts to extend the bus route to link with the Harwich ferry have been thwarted by changes at Landguard Fort which means that buses can't turn there. Another case of poor planning.
A route between Ashby de la Zouch and Nuneaton, serving Twycross Zoo, was cut back in April. Also further cuts have been made to the route between Birmingham and Nottingham via Ashby.
Stagecoach now provides a roughly hourly service between Oxford and Stratford, with some buses using a new route via Moreton in Marsh.
In London a new ``Saver'' ticket can be bought at enquiry offices (e.g. at Kings Cross, Liverpool St and Victoria) which offers 6 bus rides for GBP 3-90. Best value for rides including Zone 1 (currently GBP 1) or night buses. This is the first fruit from the Mayor's transport strategy.
We have had it confirmed that Stagecoach Explorer tickets are still valid on Arriva (Shires & Essex and Fox County) and Huntingdon & District. Furthermore they are now valid on all Stagecoach buses throughout the country. Please let us know if you have any trouble with them.
Arriva's Diamond Rover tickets -- the ones that allow travel across London -- are not so fortunate. At any rate, the Coordinator was charged GBP 10 for a recent trip as opposed to GBP 7 earlier this year.
At the time of writing all public footpaths in the East (including Cambridgeshire and Peterborough) and South-East regions of the country, plus Wiltshire, are open, except that there are still some closures in Bedfordshire and Kent plus the unitary authorities in Luton, Havering, Croydon, Medway, Southampton and Swindon.
Here is a run-down of those seasonal rural bus services we know about.
Norfolk: The Coast Hopper links Hunstanton and Sheringham 7 days a week till the end of October. Don't forget to see ``Seahenge II'' on the beach at Holme next the Sea -- check tides before making your plans. (This summer and early autumn, the lowest tides are generally in the afternoon for 4 days in the middle of the month.)
Essex: Sunday services 631-3 (linking Saffron Walden and Burnham on Crouch) and 605/6 (linking Colchester, Walton and Harwich) run every Sunday till the end of September.
Herts: The Shaw Shuttle links Welwyn Garden City station (12.44) with National Trust property Shaw's Corner till the end of October.
Kent: The Chartwell Explorer and Tunbridge Wells Heritage Hopper run at weekends till early September. However their routes are less interesting than they used to be. An alternative route to Westerham and Chartwell is Metrobus 246 which also runs on Sundays till the end of October. The Tonbridge & Malling Hidden Heritage bus seems to have disappeared, as has (in neighbouring Surrey) the Surrey Hills Leisure Bus.
Sussex: The Cuckmere Rambler and Charleston Hopper run till September (the former Saturdays and Sundays, the latter Sundays only), operated by a local community bus. There is also an open topper linking Brighton with Devil's Dyke, which runs on Sundays till the end of October, daily in the summer school holidays, and Saturdays in September and October. The Heart of Sussex link and the Arun Valley Countrybus are not running this year.
West Country: There are many extra services for the coastal area and the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks (though we haven't confirmed what is happening in Dartmoor). There's also the Taunton Deane Heritage Bus round that town.
Oxfordshire: As footpaths have now reopened we presume that the Ridgeway Explorer, linking Reading, Wantage and Swindon, is now running. Normal operation is on Sundays till the end of October.
Northants: See the last newsletter for outline details of the Saunterbus.
Cotswolds: The ``Cotswold Lion'' runs between Burford, Northleach and Chedworth Roman Villa on Wednesdays and Saturdays till the end of September. For access use Stagecoach Oxford X3 or Swanbrook 53 to Burford, or get a train or bus to Moreton in Marsh then 55 to Northleach. The Cotswolds also has a couple of dailt Guide Friday rural tours, one serving the Slaughters from Bourton on the Water (also on the 55 route) and the other doing a larger circuit once a day from Stratford to Stow on the Wold. Also worthy of note is all-year route 10 operated by the Villager Community Bus on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesdays of the month between Oddington, Stow and Winchcombe.
Severn Valley: The Wye Valley Wanderer and Malverns Hillhopper run on Sundays till the end of September, from Pershore to Chepstow, and on a circuit between Great Malvern and Ledbury. Unfortunately there's still no link between Chepstow and Severn Beach or Bristol. The Long Mynd shuttle appears not to be running this year, probably due to foot & mouth.
Brecon Beacons: The ``Beacons Bus'' network is significantly changed with some routes lost, but there are new services between Brecon and the National Botanic Gardens near Carmarthen, and a circuit linking Brecon town with the Brecon Mountain Railway which runs 7 days a week in the summer school holidays. The whole network finishes on August Bank Holiday weekend, and it is far from clear whether funding will be available for next year. Not very satisfactory given that foot & mouth infection is still rampant !
Puffin Shuttle: Serves the Pembrokeshire Coast daily till the end of September.
Clwydian Hills: The ``Clwydian Ranger'' network runs on Sundays till the end of September with feeder routes from Chester (including rail connections from Liverpool).
Snowdonia: A comprehensive network, much of it year-round, but enhanced in summer.
Nottinghamshire: The Sherwood Forester network runs on Sundays till early September. An improved feature is a twice daily link between Nottingham and Newark via Belvoir Castle, Grantham, and Belton House. There is also a new circular route from Dinnington in South Yorkshire to Sherwood Forest and Rother Valley Country Park. A day return to Lincoln gives access the network via Grantham or Newark.
East Midland Houses: Cosy Coaches are again running Sunday buses between Chesterfield, Bolsover, Glapwell and Hardwick Hall, the first two being on the Sherwood Forester network. Midland Main Line have stopped their combined tours from London and Leicester to Hardwick and Haddon Halls; their tour to Chatsworth is joined this year by a new trip to Belvoir. Midland Main Line and Virgin both also run trips to Alton Towers.
Northern national parks: Comprehensive networks again this year with many routes running till the end of October. The North York Moors network is linked with a route in the Yorkshire Wolds that ran last year as an independent service. The network runs every Sunday till the end of October, and daily in the summer school holidays -- with the Wolds bus running Tuesdays and Wednesdays only in the holidays. The Moorsbus network is omitting some areas this year due to foot & mouth, but there are new routes in the Howardian Hills to the south-west.
Warcop Fell: No special buses, but we mention it as a possible ``last chance'' because of proposals by the MOD to reduce access to the firing range. The area is still subject to foot & mouth restrictions.
Cairngorms: A definite last chance as the chairlift will be closing in December to be replaced by a funicular railway from which ramblers will be barred. The bus from Aviemore to the chairlift and Fort William runs daily till the end of September. Another possible ``last chance'' is that Highland Council may cease publishing its comprehensive timetable for the Highlands, Orkney and Western Isles from next year. This year's summer timetables are still not out ! As one might expect, the Highlands has lots of routes which are either seasonal or enhanced in summer.
There is lots of printed information available at the Central Library in Cambridge. Another conveniently located library that has lots of information is Bishopsgate in London, close to Liverpool St station and to the coach stop at Aldgate. A recent search showed that reasonably up to date information (less than a year old) was available for the following local authorities:
In both libraries: Cleveland (except Hartlepool), Cornwall, Derbys, East Sussex, Gwynedd, Herefs, Herts, Isle of Wight, Lincs, Notts, Orkney, Somerset, Staffs, Suffolk, Swindon, West Sussex, Ynys Mon.
In Bishopsgate but not Cambridge: Angus, Highlands & Western Isles, Isle of Man, Merseyside, Northumberland, Powys, Shetland, Shropshire, Thurrock.
In Cambridge but not London: Cambs, Carmarthen, Conwy, Essex & Southend, Glos (N Cotswold area), Jersey, London, Northants, West Midlands, Worcs.
Both libraries have a lot of out of date information. In some cases this may be because the relevant local authority doesn't produce proper publicity (e.g. Beds, Durham, Leics, Oxon, and many Welsh and Scottish councils).
The Scottish Tourist Board in Cockspur St (near Charing Cross), and the nearby British Visitor Centre in Lower Regent St have various timetables for the Scottish Highlands and some parts of Wales (not the border areas or south). Why can't these offices be used as a timetable centre for the whole of the UK ?
Internet information is available in many local authority areas. To find what is available in a given area, go to the Public Transport Information site (linked from our own for which the URL is at the head of this newsletter), click on ``local bus'' and select an area. The most popular system is Station Master. Under this system the best option for browsing or preliminary journey planning is Timetable Finder which enables you to look for all routes serving a given place.
Here is a run-down by region of what local authorities offer internet timetables. Urban areas are excluded.
Scotland: Some information for services near the border is available from the North of England site.
North: All local authorities. There is a single site which also includes Cumbria.
North-West: All local authorities except Cheshire.
Yorkshire & Humberside: All local authorities.
East Midlands: Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Rutland.
East: Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire.
South-East: Buckinghamshire, Surrey.
There are also some useful websites run by operators such as Stagecoach Oxford, Thamesdown (Swindon), and Badgerline, and local websites such as Saffire (Saffron Walden) and Wallingford (Thames Travel). Various counties, including the East Riding of Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and Gloucestershire have pages which show significant changes. In the case of Essex such information can be obtained by email from <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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