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At the beginning of this month Britain was hit by Jubilee fever as we prepared to celebrate the 50 year reign of our monarch. Yet not long before, in response to a report by Parliament's Transport Select Committee into the Government's 10 Year Plan for transport, the then Transport Minister Stephen Byers expressed a different idea as to who our monarch was. The report condemned the 10 Year Plan as being incoherent in that it refused to set traffic targets and didn't address the question of whether our environment and road network can cope with ever increasing traffic. It also condemned the failure to create a sensible balance between motoring costs and public transport fares, which would encourage people to shift away from their cars.
His words, as quoted in the freesheet ``Metro'' (Mon 27 May 2002), were ``The Car is King''. In other words, the status of our monarch has been usurped.
Of course, he has since resigned as Transport Minister, but not over this particular issue, and there is no sign that the Government wishes to dissociate itself from this statement. And, of course, he was speaking metaphorically, but his statement was a reasonably accurate reflection of the place of the car in the transport policy of this government (and every other government for the last 50 or so years).
When there is a royal procession barriers are set up to keep crowds away from the Queen. Similarly, railings are put up to prevent pedestrians from crossing where they would like, in the interests of smoother traffic flow for cars. And there is a difference between closing off a street for a one-off royal procession and putting up anti-pedestrian railings that stay there permanently, even when traffic is light.
The lifestyle of royalty is underpinned by their vast land holdings. Similarly, vast amount of land in both town and country are set aside for the needs of traffic. Motorists often complain about how their taxes are far higher than the cost of maintaining the system, but do they ever think of the market rent for all the land devoted to their use? One estimate for the value of the road network is GBP 340 billion (link -- I should add a caveat that we do not agree with everything that is said on this site).
Kings used to have the power of life and death over their subjects. King Car now demands 3,000 human sacrifices per year in the UK alone.
Stephen Byers said that he would not ``punish motorists'' but nobody seems to care about the ``punishment'' that is being visited on public transport users, for whom costs have risen 50-80% in real terms over a quarter-century during which motoring costs have remained static. And this is before the Network Railcard scandal referred to in our last newsletter (and later in this one), which will bump up costs for many rail journeys by a further 50%, equivalent to several pounds -- yes, pounds -- on a gallon of petrol. The situation reminds one of a biblical reference, the 1st book of Kings, Chapter 12, Verse 11: the government that shrinks from beating motorists with whips is prepared to chastise rail passengers with scorpions.
We believe that we need both to get rid of the scorpions and to impose the whips (by which we don't mean the Parliamentary whips!) if we are to reach a sustainable transport policy. But the first priority must be to maintain the status quo in terms of the cost balance by either removing the scorpions or imposing the whips at the level suggested in the previous paragraph.
Two further comments on Government policy. By freezing petrol tax this year's Budget delivered a price reduction to motorists in real terms. There was, however, one bit of good news: improved tax breaks were provided for companies which support public bus services for their employees. This would make it easier for major employers such as the Wellcome Genome Campus to replace their ``closed'' works buses with services available to the public at large, as we are recommending (see below).
There is, however, no such silver lining in the Government ``speeder's charter'' which, if it goes ahead as now seems to be envisaged, will not only require speed cameras to be conspicuous but force them to be removed in locations which are not considered dangerous enough. So motorists will know they can exceed speed limits with impunity in other locations. This from a Government keen to be seen as tough on ``law and order'' issues? Sorry, I forgot, while speeding may kill people few motorists feel guilty doing it -- unless they get caught, which no doubt explains why the car lobby is so keen to ensure that they don't get caught. (It should be added that speed limits serve purposes other than casualty reduction -- they make it easier for pedestrians, cyclists, buses and other motor vehicles to join or cross traffic flows, and they reduce noise. And one mustn't forget that driving faster than about 50mph -- or rapid acceleration and deceleration at any speed -- waste fuel and thus exacerbate global warming.)
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We welcome several new members: J. MacKay (Cambridge) and four National Supporters, G. Browne (Cambridge), G. Greet (Kennett), M. Linton (Ramsey), and C. Rankin (Cambridge). Please note that the only contact information we are given from Transport 2000 HQ is your postal address, so that we would be grateful for any other contact details.
We are aware of the following consultations, which are listed in order of expected closing date. We hope that members will find time to reply to some of them, and to visit one of the London-South Midlands Multi-Modal Study exhibitions and put their views across.
Mitcham's Corner Gyratory in Cambridge -- till 14 June. Details on County Council website. Reply to Chris Creed, Environment & Transport, Cambridgeshire County Council, Shirehall, Castle St, Cambridge CB3 0AP.
We are concerned about this scheme primarily from the point of view of pedestrians, who will face the delays imposed by signalled crossings in an area where most journeys will require them to use several crossings.
Cambridge Core Traffic Scheme Stage 3 -- till 17 June. Reply to Jemma Little, Projects Officer at the above county council address. Leaflets explaining the scheme, together with a response form, should be available from the County Council.
The scheme includes the partial closure of Silver St, which we strongly welcome because of its narrowness and consequent poor air quality. We are suggesting that the inner section of Silver St be one-way inbound at all times, which would have the advantage of making it easier for buses from the west side of Cambridge to avoid congestion on the Fen Causeway. There are also proposals to restrict access to Regent St and St Andrews St, and to improve traffic management on the ring road, which we broadly welcome. The provision of traffic lights at the Royal Cambridge Hotel junction will be particularly welcome as it will improve safety at the junction for cyclists. The proposal to reverse the direction of flow on Park Terrace will help coaches en route to London and its airports; modifications will be necessary to those City buses -- especially park & ride -- which use this route, and we hope that this won't cause problems in Emmanuel St.
M11 Route Management Study -- till mid to end June. This covers the whole route between Woodford (Junction 4) and Girton (Junction 14). This is a preliminary consultation only, so send your ideas to Colin Tyrell, Mott MacDonald, Capital House, 48-52 Andover Road, Winchester SO23 7BH <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
A421/A428 Route Management Strategy -- till 2 Aug. Details on Highways Agency website at http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/rms/a421anda428/publicat.htm. There will be an exhibition at the Harpur Centre in Bedford town centre, Wed 19 June 11.00-17.00, but this is not worth a special visit as details of the strategy can also be seen in relevant county and district council offices and public libraries within the area -- including Cambridge, Papworth and St Neots. Reply to Chris Shuker, A421/A428 RMS Project Sponsor, Highways Agency, Heron House, 49-53 Goldington Road, Bedford MK40 3LL. We are not including a precis of the strategy in this newsletter, but in general our priorities are for buses and non-motorised users (including prospective bus passengers).
London Orbital Multi-Modal Study -- no closing date for comments on the report has yet been announced. Indeed, the report has not yet been published, but it is expected to suggest that any widening proposals should assume that demand management will be in place early in the next decade. There are no proposals for rail improvements not already under way -- not even a mention of the Central Railway freight proposals which would also provide an orbital route west of London for passengers, nor the opportunity to use the Channel Tunnel Rail Link as part of a south-eastern orbital route. There is, however, a proposal to develop coach services on the corridor, and a suggestion that this would require the setting up of a Strategic Coach Authority to procure the required network.
We would welcome the last proposal which would set a precedent for the need to organise proper provision for strategic bus routes elsewhere in the country, including our own A14 Express proposals. But we don't see why strategic coach links can't be just made an extra responsibility of the Strategic Rail Authority, or possibly Transport for London (whose boundaries could be extended to outside the M25).
This corridor is of importance to our area because it is used by National Express Airlinks buses between Cambridge (also Newmarket and Mildenhall) and the London airport network. These buses have considerable potential for use by non air travellers, and we will be looking to make the most of this opportunity -- as well as to try to push the opportunities for rail development.
Environmental groups are organising a meeting in London on Sat 20 July. For details contact John Kenward at <email@example.com>.
London-South Midlands Multi-Modal Study -- probably the most important of the consultations now under way. Exhibitions will be held until late July, after which there will be a further period to allow for comment, so there will be plenty of time to write up your views. Details of the consultation proposals may be seen at the website. Here is a list of exhibitions; times are 12.00-20.00 for the first day at any site (except Cambridge, which opens 15.00) and 10.00-18.00 on subsequent day(s) (if any). Northampton Derngate (14-15/6); Kettering Corn Market (21/6); Cambridge Gonville Hotel (27-28/6); Bedford Corn Exchange (3-5/7); Bishops Stortford Parsonage Community Hall, 57 Rochford Rd (6/7); Stevenage Arts Centre (8-9/7); St Neots Priory Centre (11-12/7); Luton Vauxhall Recreation Club, 20 Gypsy Lane (15-16/7); Dunstable Hanover Hotel, Church Road (17-18/7); and Milton Keynes Tempus Building, 249 Midsummer Boulevard (25-27/7).
The proposals are put forward on the basis of a background which includes the following currently planned schemes: Thameslink 2000, Crossrail, upgrade of Felixstowe-Nuneaton, West Coast Main Line, and West Anglia Line, and on the roads side the A14 CHUMMS proposals, local by-passes, and smaller Local Transport Plan schemes.
Additional rail schemes suggested are the East-West Rail Link plus reopening of the Bedford-Northampton route, a link from Stansted to Thameslink, and parkway stations possibly at Bedford, Northampton, Stevenage and Toddington.
Additional road schemes suggested are to dual the A428/A421 all the way between Cambridge and the M1, to widen the M11 between Stansted and the A11, and possibly all the way, to widen the A1 between Welwyn and Stevenage North, to widen the M1 south of the A421, to make capacity improvements on the A14 west of Huntingdon, and to build a new Luton/Dunstable northern by-pass.
We don't like any of the road schemes. Most damaging is likely to be the Luton/Dunstable by-pass which will impinge on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Only the section west of the M1 (between the A505/A5 junction and a new M1 junction) looks acceptable. Could other traffic for which this route is intended be catered for by the A507, for which all by-passes already exist except for Baldock (where a by-pass is planned but the wrong route) and Ridgmont (where a by-pass is also planned)? The other road schemes will probably cause less specific damage but will all help to throw more traffic onto other routes which can't cope either in terms of road capacity or environmentally.
As for the rail schemes, we do not believe they amount to a coherent network. Any scheme including routes from Bedford to both Northampton and Oxford must use the most direct possible route between Cambridge and Bedford; we believe that the Cambridge-Huntingdon route is necessary both to provide interchange with the East Coast Main Line and to serve any new town at Oakington/Longstanton, but even this may not be enough to make the corridor competitive with the roads -- and a route via Letchworth certainly won't be. We will therefore be suggesting that the Huntingdon route is supplemented by a new line between Shepreth and Sandy (about 15 miles), and possibly a new cut-off to allow access from Stansted Airport (and Braintree/Colchester, outside the study area) without the need to detour via Cambridge.
The above could replace the central section of our previously suggested route between Colchester and Milton Keynes via Braintree, Stansted, Harlow, Ware, Stevenage, Hitchin, Flitwick and Ridgmont. However there is still likely to be a sufficient case for the sections east of Stevenage and west of Flitwick, neither of which involves much in the way of ``new build''.
Here is a quick run-down of the trunk roads in our part of the region, listed in increasing order of road number.
A1: Publication of route management strategy for London-Peterborough section. This is disappointing as far as provision for sustainable transport users goes but the rights of way study is still proceeding. Consultation has closed for Peterborough-Blyth. The grade separation schemes at Tempsford and Langford/Edworth were completed last year.
A6: Clapham By-pass to be completed spring 2003.
A10: Wadesmill by-pass currently under way.
A11: Publication of proposals for Mildenhall-Thetford dualling mid 2003. Improvements to the east further advanced.
M11: Stansted slip roads due for completion autumn 2002.
A14: We submitted an objection to the Thrapston-Brampton Grade Separation which called for minor changes to the rights of way proposals and better provision for through buses to serve the villages on the corridor without having to leave the A14. (We use the term ``virtual stations'' for stops on major highways, which is what we are calling for.) We do not object to the scheme per se, which is intended to ease local access problems rather than provide extra capacity. (Incidentally, the Coordinator tried to visit the exhibition at Ellington referred to in our last newsletter using the buses mentioned therein, but the one intended for the outward journey never turned up!) Proposals have also been published for grade separation at the Rookery east of Bury; these will increase capacity, and may not be justified under a sustainable transport policy, but we have not involved ourselves in this issue.
A47: Formal proposals for Thorney By-pass to be published soon. We won't object to the by-pass as long as buses and non-motorised users are catered for adequately. Work is due to start in September on improvements at Hardwick (near the A10 junction).
A120: Stansted-Braintree dualling to be completed end 2003. Dualling further to the east is being studied.
A421: We submitted an objection to the Great Barford By-pass on the grounds that the by-pass did not need to be dual carriageway. We also called for improved rights of way provision and virtual stations. Dualling west of Bedford is being studied (see also report on London-South Midlands Multi-Modal Study above).
A428: Work has started on the Cambourne dualling. Formal proposals for dualling the rest of the route east of Caxton Gibbet will be published soon: we will object because of the traffic implications for Cambridge. Dualling between Caxton Gibbet and A1 being studied (again, see also London-S Midlands MMS).
There are several items in the Granta Valley. Wellcome has submitted revised proposals to expand its Genome Campus near Hinxton. While these include transport for its employees, we are objecting on the grounds that this represents a waste of an opportunity to provide improved services for the general public. The site is close to the A11 and (as an alternative to Duxford) offers an opportunity to provide facilities for interchange between local buses and coaches to/from London and its airport network. If a new station was built at Hinxton or Ickleton this could also play a role.
At last Essex County Council has got round to repairing the bridge at Littlebury whose weight restriction has prevented buses from serving the village. But will Stagecoach restore buses through the village when the work is finished? It didn't at Kentford.
Cambridgeshire County Council has finalised its proposals for the so-called Duxford Safety Scheme on the A505. Work on the new roundabout (to which we never had any objection) is imminent. Some of the proposals for prohibited turns have been dropped, so as it now stands the scheme will not force any detours on the local bus network, for which we are thankful. However it would hinder some of the improvements we have in mind.
Taking all this into account we have produced a transport network which would motivate us to give full-hearted support to the Wellcome proposals. This would replace existing Stagecoach routes 31-35, some Herts/Essex contracted services, and the Duxford Imperial War Museum free bus.
(a) Upgrade Cambridge-Saffron Walden to half hourly, with alternate journeys each side of the Granta. The eastern route would be direct via Addenbrookes, Sawston (main road through village), Hinxton (A1301) and the B184.
(b) Local buses every 20 minutes between Cambridge and Hinxton, returning to Cambridge by one of three routes, two of which would serve the Imperial War Museum. Visitors arriving by one of these buses would get a discount on the admission fee, to replace the free ride they now have.
(c) Coaches on the M11 and A11 network (which at present are shuttle 010 and Airlinks 727, 757 and 797 plus some East Anglia-London routes) would stop at (some of) Addenbrookes, Babraham Road Park & Ride, Six Mile Bottom (rail and bus interchange), Four Went Ways (bus interchange for Haverhill), and the Genome Campus entrance near Stump Cross, in addition to existing peak-time stops at Shelford, Stapleford and Sawston (which we would like to see extended to off-peak periods).
(d) New 2 hourly service from Royston to Hinxton via Barley, Chishill, Heydon, Chrishall, Elmdon and Ickleton.
At the other end of the county, we understand that the plan to build a major housing development west of Ramsey, which was a feature of the last County Structure Plan, has been abandoned. Ramsey is currently not very well served by public transport; we had asked for any such development to include a new station at Abbots Ripton or Wood Walton (which could also serve any development at Alconbury), plus a shuttle bus to Ramsey serving intermediate villages. Any ideas for how else to finance this new station? (The Alconbury scheme has been through the public inquiry stage and a decision is awaited; it has been reported that it will come this autumn.)
We have several items:
Network Railcards under the ``old'' conditions (that is, reductions of about 34% on all fares after 10.00 on Mon-Fri) are no longer on sale. However, it is still possible for people to obtain this discount by buying a Network Gold Card. This is an annual season ticket within the Network South-East area, which doubles up as a Network Railcard under the ``old'' conditions. For those who do not make regular commuter journeys, the cheapest season ticket is believed to be one within Ryde (Isle of Wight) at GBP 96. Holders of Network Gold Cards may also purchase a Partner Card for just GBP 1, but this will be subject to the ``new'' conditions.
Those who travel a lot will find this facility worthwhile, but as GBP 96 is a lot more than GBP 20 we are still campaigning for the Government to act to restore the former situation -- preferably by mid August 2003, by when all cards bought under the ``old'' conditions will have expired.
The Rail Passenger Council has been inviting ideas for specifications for the new ``Greater'' Anglia rail franchise, which is expected to replace the existing Great Eastern and Anglia franchises and also to cover the routes out of Liverpool St via Hackney Downs. Routes within our area that will be covered are Cambridge to Liverpool St, Ipswich and Norwich plus Ipswich to Peterborough, and, presumably, the extension to Kings Lynn of those Cambridge trains that start at Liverpool St. The rest of the current WAGN franchise (i.e. routes to Kings Cross and Moorgate) will form part of the new Thameslink franchise when the Thameslink 2000 project is complete.
Our position is that the vast majority of the improvements we would like to see cannot be secured by the new franchisee on its own; we have therefore suggested that the ``core'' specifications should include a requirement to cooperate with other operators (rail, bus and ferry) and local authorities to procure desired improvements. For example, the new franchisee should not be allowed to sabotage a proposal to open a new station at Addenbrookes (say) by indicating that it would not be prepared to stop its trains there -- assuming that there was sufficient track capacity for it to be able to do so.
Among these ``contingent'' requirements is that they should cooperate with any railcard scheme. Had all operators been subject to such a requirement, then the Network Railcard could not have been sabotaged. We have suggested that the Network South-East area should include Manningtree-Ipswich and whatever rail/bus links are provided between Cambridge and Bedford, also between Stansted and Colchester. We hope that in due course it would be possible to extend the area to cover the whole of East Anglia, and indeed the whole country. Many European countries have similar national railcards.
Some service improvements which we have proposed include regular trains on the route between Tottenham and Stratford; a later Saturday night return from Ipswich to Cambridge (we would accept a bus connection off the existing last train to Bury); and earlier Sunday morning services from Cambridge to Ipswich and Norwich (including route options involving changes or use of buses for part of the journey), connecting for coastal destinations. Also improved connections at Stansted Mountfitchet, Stowmarket, and Ipswich, the last for journeys between Cambridge and Lowestoft.
Sunday morning trains are of particular concern. At one time we had ``seaside specials'' from Cambridge to places like Yarmouth, Felixstowe, and Skegness. Then we got a Sunday bus network which gave access to these and many more seaside resorts (and intermediate places of interest). Then we had a Cambridge to Norwich coach which provided an early arrival. Now the only way to get to Norwich at a reasonable hour is a long and expensive detour via Stansted Airport.
Incidentally, services to Hunstanton are also poor on ``winter'' Sundays (I use quotes because the end of May is hardly winter). In the winter bus timetable, the only morning departure from Kings Lynn leaves before the arrival of the first train and the first bus from Peterborough. This is what is shown in the national summer rail timetable and, at the time of writing, on the Norfolk County Council website. However we are glad to say that it is wrong; as in previous years, buses run every hour from Kings Lynn (at 25 past the hour), though passengers for points on the coast beyond Hunstanton have a 50 minute wait. (Incidentally, the Kings Lynn-Hunstanton timetable will be changing at the end of the school term.)
Existing stations which we have identified as possible rail/bus interchanges include Audley End, Cambridge, Harold Wood (for an M25 corridor orbital link), Kelvedon, Kennett & Lakenheath, Manea, Whittlesford, Wickham Market and Wymondham. We have also suggested the following as possible sites for new stations: Addenbrookes, Barnwell Jn, Black Bank, Brentwood Parkway (A12/M25), Cherry Hinton, Chesterton Parkway, Fulbourn, Hinxton & Ickleton, Kings Dyke, Littlebury, Sawston, Six Mile Bottom (possible interchange site), Soham, and two Norfolk park & ride stations at Trowse and Wroxham South.
We have of course mentioned the need for new rail links between Cambridge and Huntingdon, March and Wisbech, and Newmarket and Ely; also links from Stansted Airport to the east and west, and running of Crossrail trains through to Stansted Airport, Norwich, and Southend.
On the subject of the St Ives line, some of you (especially those who live near the corridor) will receive with this newsletter a copy of a petition to reopen the St Ives line. We are circulating the petition because we support the reopening, but it is not a Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk initiative, and the ideas therein do not accord fully with our own policies. (Specifically, we do not believe that running trains through to/from London will reduce initial costs; and we do not oppose a guided busway provided it can be shown to be feasible and it doesn't impinge on the railway route.)
If you see a statement attributed to the Coordinator on a petition form that widening the road will cost four times as much as reopening the railway to Huntingdon, this was the result of a misunderstanding -- we believe the ratio is likely to be less though the discrepancy will still be substantial.
Return the petition by the end of August. If you don't have a copy and want one, contact Brian Smith at 53 Elm Close, Huntingdon PE29 7AR.
Finally, we must record our dismay at the interruptions to European railfreight caused by concern about immigrants and asylum seekers. While this xenophobia lasts there is unlikely to be any progress towards integrating our domestic rail network (and the Continental European rail network) with Eurostar for passengers. Illegal immigration may or may not cause significant damage to our economy and environment, but the replacement of rail movements by lorries and aircraft certainly does so.
Progress is being made on the proposed Bedford-Milton Keynes canal. An opening date of 2010, the 200th anniversary of the original proposal for a canal on this corridor by local MP Whitbread (of the brewing family) is envisaged. Developers are likely to contribute a large proportion of the finance, which suggests that the most likely eastern route option would run through Elstow Garden Village (the town planned for the Elstow Depot site between the A6 and B530/Midland Main Line). The canal is expected to run close to the Marston Vale line (Bedford-Bletchley) for much of its length. At the western end the option which takes the canal close to Central Milton Keynes is probably the least likely because of its substantial extra cost.
The route will include a significant change of level near Brogborough. The British Waterways Board is investigating options such as an inclined plane (as formerly existed at Foxton in Leicestershire, with plans for restoration), a boat lift (as recently restored at Anderton in Cheshire), or even a wheel (as recently opened, the first in the world, at Falkirk in Scotland).
For many years canal restoration seemed to go at a snail's pace -- though probably faster than railway restoration is going now. Things are definitely now on an upswing, and there is talk of schemes such as a link between the Nene near Peterborough and the Witham near Boston -- a canal equivalent of the ``East Coast Motorway'' which was mooted to stimulate local regeneration -- an idea which alarmed environmental groups when it was proposed but fortunately never got official acceptance. Local regeneration is now one of the motivations behind the development of waterways including the Bedford-Milton Keynes route.
For those who are interested in waterways, this year's National Waterways Festival will be at Deighton, near Huddersfield, on 4 days (Fri-Mon 23-26) over the August Bank Holiday. Advance tickets at a reduced price can be obtained by ringing 0970 240 2438 or 01484 223200. Times are 10.00-18.00 (Mon 17.00) and the festival is within walking distance of Deighton station, or use buses 201-203, 217-221, 227 or 229 from Huddersfield bus station (close to the rail station).
We are concerned about plans to reorganise and introduce competition into postal operations, for the following reasons.
1. If postal operations are split between several operators, will any of them achieve sufficient volume to justify use of the rail network? Trains are preferable to lorries not only for environmental reasons but also because they contribute to the viability of the rail network.
2. Both changes to delivery times and competition will affect the viability of postbuses, which combine the collection (and occasionally the delivery) of mail with the carriage of passengers. There is one postbus in Cambridgeshire, based in the Kimbolton area. There are also postbuses in Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk. (Consideration is being given, incidentally, to diverting the Kimbolton postbus to serve some Bedfordshire villages.)
3. Competition may also jeopardise the level of service available to rural areas. Surely it must be more efficient for deliveries to a single area to be made by a single vehicle? As with buses, any competition should be ``off-road'' (i.e. operators would compete to serve a given area, and would be free to provide extra deliveries and other services while they do so).
4. The plans include later deliveries for domestic premises. This will make it harder for transport and planning campaigners, who often have to act within tight deadlines. Not all the information needed is always on the Internet.
On the second point, one of the areas ``pioneering'' the new delivery pattern is Newbury, which has three postbuses. The ``Newbury Weekly News'' of 4 April had an article about the concern of local people about the future of the postbuses. As far as we know a final decision on the future of these services has still not been made. If they face the axe or are changed in such a way that they become less useful, alarm bells will ring in other parts of the country.
Plans to expand Stansted Airport from 15 to 25 million passengers per year are currently being considered. This is likely to be the first step in a long term plan to maximise the use of the runway (which will involve a further increase to about 45 million passengers) or even to build a second runway (which could involve a further doubling, or more passengers than Heathrow has now).
We believe that the continued growth in aviation is fundamentally unsustainable; it is even more fuel-intensive than motoring, and an even worse culprit in the global climate crisis. At some time we need to move away from ``predict and provide'' to demand management (as we have in principle done for road traffic, though as we implied in our headline article this hasn't fed through properly to the practical level), so why not do it now? Development of international rail services (including overnight trains) at competitive fares would allow us to continue to be able to visit other countries and cultures.
We mustn't forget the other downsides of aviation -- noise, road traffic (passengers and workers travelling to/from airports) and urbanisation (do we want the area around Stansted to become like the area around Heathrow is now?). And, if we must have more planes, we should try to set tough conditions, such as requiring the aviation industry to underwrite an integrated transport system for the areas around airports. Stansted, for example, could do with better rail and bus links in many directions.
By comparison with Stansted, Cambridge Airport, where a planning application for expansion has been submitted, is rather small beer, ``only'' involving flights up to twice an hour. But this is enough to prejudice the quality of life for many people under the flight path.
Work is nearly complete on the upgrade of Drummer St bus station in Cambridge, which will improve passenger circulation. There has also been some work, now complete, at Huntingdon. The plan to move the bus station at Peterborough temporarily, in connection with an upgrade of the shopping centre, has been put on hold indefinitely. Unfortunately local authorities don't seem to put as much priority on ensuring that the information on display at bus stations is up to date and well displayed as on their physical layout, and this is evident at all three of the locations above.
A new bus station has been built at Addenbrookes Hospital, and there has been an upgrade at Bedford (with more seating, though this gets in the way of people trying to find their departure bay). But Luton is now worse than ever, with poor information and virtually no facilities at all.
We have to report substantial cuts in Stagecoach bus services for the Fens area. Some replacements are supported by Cambridgeshire and Suffolk County Councils; the latter, but not the former, have provided some compensating improvements. Here is a list of changes.
X7 (Peterborough-March): Extends to Cambridge replacing X8. Fewer journeys serve Mepal and Witcham. No change on Sundays.
X8 (Wisbech-Cambridge): Reduced to peak times only (plus Sundays). X7 and 68 provide part replacement.
X9 (Cambridge-Littleport): Diverted to cover part of withdrawn Ely city services.
X10 (Cambridge-Lakenheath): Withdrawn. X11, 200 and 282 provide replacements.
X11 (Cambridge-Bury): Doubled to run hourly on weekdays and two hourly on Sundays, but no evening buses east of Newmarket. Also ceases to serve Cambridge station.
X12 (Cambridge-Newmarket-Ely): Evening service withdrawn, 122 provides part replacement. Also ceases to serve Cambridge station.
22/23 (Ely city): All but one journey withdrawn.
36 (Peterborough-Wisbech): Service east of Thorney further cut to leave just a peak journey into Peterborough and two back in the evening.
68 (Wisbech-March): Part replacement for X8, run by Norfolk Green under Cambs CC contract, runs 2 hourly, timed to connect with X7, some through ticketing.
111 (Cambridge-Burwell-Newmarket): Evening service cut to 2 hourly, 122 provides part replacement.
122 (Cambridge-Burwell-Fordham-Soham): New 2 hourly evening service replacing part of 122 and X12. Does not serve Ely (unlike Sundays).
200 (Newmarket-Thetford): This Suffolk CC supported route, operated by Burtons, has new evening and Sunday journeys, the latter operated by Mulleys. Sunday buses run 2 hourly to Holywell Row with alternate journeys extended to Thetford.
282 (Brandon-Cambridge): New peak-time return service (Saturdays included) direct between Red Lodge and the Cambridge Science Park, operated by Burtons on behalf of Suffolk CC. Also return positioning working from Cambridge to Lakenheath by a similar route. Departures from Cambridge station at 09.00 and 16.45, Emmanuel St 10 minutes later.
292 (Lakenheath-Ely): New 2 hourly weekday service (3 journeys each way), again operated by Burtons for Suffolk CC, via Mildenhall and Prickwillow -- a welcome innovation which rescues an interesting village from isolation.
354 (West Row-Bury): New 4 hourly Sunday service (3 journeys each way) operated by Mulleys for Suffolk CC.
Route 400, also operated by Burtons for Suffolk CC, provides extra buses between Newmarket and Mildenhall. 130 is run commercially by First between Mildenhall and Thetford.
We now follow with some proposals for this area. We believe that the surest way to get an integrated network is to go for a Quality Contract whereby the local authority can specify a network and tender it out to operators. Quality Contracts appeared in the Transport Act as a last resort but it has been reported that the Government is moving towards recognising the need for them; they provide the best escape from the chaos of deregulation.
Our proposals are likely to involve some increase in costs. We see this as being fundable by revenues from road user charging. Our recommendation is for a parking tax to cover the whole of the Cambridge sub-region, which should not only reduce traffic (otherwise set to rise by about 30%) but also signal to employers the importance of locations easily accessible other than by car. We would like to see the tax extended to all private non-residential parking, also a one-off tax on developers in respect of residential parking. The need to link road user charges with public transport improvements is often emphasised -- well here is a package for the area north of Cambridge. A similar package would of course be needed south of Cambridge.
It is often suggested that all routes within a Quality Contract would be run by the same operator, and that other operators would be forbidden to run in the area. We see no reason for the first constraint (which doesn't apply in London, for example -- the prototype of a Quality Contract set-up). Indeed we believe that all existing commercial operators should expect to be able to participate in the new network. As for the second constraint, we would prefer a more flexible attitude. What is needed is unified ticketing and marketing -- preferably also covering any operators that run routes outside the Quality Contract.
The routes which are radial with respect to Cambridge are listed in anti-clockwise order, followed by the remaining ``cross-country'' routes. In general only the basic off-peak pattern is shown; town services are omitted, and there would also be some infrequent services to cover communities not on the following network (including Aldreth, Barway, Holywell, Little Ouse, Pymore and Soham Fen). All routes are hourly except where otherwise stated.
787: National Express Airlinks service from Heathrow to Cambridge via Hemel Hempstead and Luton extends to Newmarket Road stops, Little Wilbraham, and Six Mile Bottom, where it is timed to connect with 727 to Newmarket, Mildenhall, Elveden (near Centre Parcs), Thetford and Norwich. These routes are both 2 hourly.
X11: Cambridge, Newmarket Road stops, A14, Newmarket (Tesco and town centre), Kennet End, Kentford, Bury.
200: Thetford-Newmarket connecting for Cambridge. Route is via Santon Downham, Brandon, Weeting, Hockwold, Lakenheath (station, village and RAF), Mildenhall (town centre) and Worlington, then either way round a loop serving Red Lodge, Kennett (village and station), Kennet End, Newmarket (town centre and Tesco), Snailwell, Chippenham, Freckenham and back to Worlington. Evening service 2 hourly.
X12: Cambridge, Newmarket Road stops, Quy Church, Bottisham village, Newmarket (town centre and Tesco), Fordham, Soham, Ely (Tesco/station, city centre and hospital). Route between Newmarket and Fordham may divert via Snailwell and Chippenham en route to Mildenhall Road estate, or omit this estate entirely.
111: As now except journeys to Cambridge serve Bottisham before Lode and vice versa in the opposite direction.
Fordham Link: Shuttles about every 2 hours between Fordham and Burwell, Isleham (possibly via Mildenhall Road estate), and Wicken (via Downfield), with occasional extension to Upware. Connections with 111 and X12 at relevant points.
X9: As now Cambridge-Ely then alternately via Little Downham and Ely Hospital to Littleport. Most journeys extend to Outwell, Enmeth and Wisbech; the main route options are (for journeys via Little Downham) via A10 villages to Downham Market, then direct or via Barroway Drove; and for journeys via Ely Hospital, Welney and Christchurch. Occasional journeys to serve Welney Wildfowl Trust, Blackhorse Drove, or Ten Mile Bank; and for some journeys the link to Wisbech would be via rail as far as Manea (where extra trains would stop); this route would also be used as a standby for Welney journeys when the bridge is flooded. Connections between northbound and southbound buses at Littleport would allow transfer between the eastern and western route options.
X7: As now except that some journeys serve Turves instead of Westry.
9/106: Half hourly from Cambridge to Milton, Waterbeach and Landbeach as now. 2 hourly extension to Cottenham, Wilburton, Haddenham, Wentworth, Witchford and Ely (city centre and hospital).
104/5: Self-contained high frequency service from Cambridge (preferably serving station perhaps by interworking with other city route) to Histon and Cottenham. Faster journey times to be procured by splitting the various detours in the Histon area between different journeys.
Oakington circular: From Cambridge station and city centre, perhaps interworked with other city route, to Girton, Oakington, Asylum Centre, Longstanton, Bar Hill estates and back to the city and station. Half hourly each way daytime, hourly evenings and Sundays. Advertised link with footpaths to/from Lolworth and Dry Drayton.
155: From Cambridge via Bar Hill (Tesco), Longstanton, Willingham, Earith, Somersham, Warboys, Ramsey then by one of several route options including Benwick to Whittlesey and Peterborough.
156: From Cambridge via Bar Hill (Tesco), Buckingway Business Park, Boxworth End, Swavesey, Over, Willingham, then continuing via Rampton, Cottenham, Landbeach, Waterbeach (timed to connect with trains), Horningsea, Fen Ditton and back to Cambridge.
1A/5: Consolidated to provide half hourly service between Cambridge and Huntingdon via Bar Hill, Fenstanton and St Ives. Some journeys to divert via Boxworth End (connects with 156) and Fen Drayton. No route changes to parallel Huntingdon & District service.
330: Huntingdon-Ramsey via villages, serves new station when open. South end extends to form loop via Stukeley Meadows, Ermine Business Park (peaks) and the Hinchingbrooke complex.
332: Huntingdon-Wisbech via Warboys, Chatteris, A141 to March (town centre and station), then via Wisbech St Mary or Friday Bridge to Wisbech returning the other way. Extends beyond Huntingdon as 330.
334: Ramsey-St Ives/Huntingdon 2 hourly serving remaining villages in area.
157: Ely-St Ives 2 hourly via Coveney, Wardy Hill, Witcham, Mepal, Sutton and Earith, with various route options from there.
158: St Ives-Earith circular via Pidley, Somersham, Colne, Earith, Bluntisham and Needingworth. 2 hourly in both directions combined, alternates with 157 to provide hourly overall service.
Bury-Mildenhall: Extends via West Row/RAF circular, with further 2 hourly extension to Ely as 292.
Under the Alconbury development proposals routes 332, 157 and 158 would extend to Alconbury and 330 would pass or run through the site. A Bar Hill park & ride site could get a 10 minute service by routes 1A/5, 155/156 and the Oakington circular; Huntingdon & District would provide additional evening return options from Cambridge.
Three Rural Bus Challenge aided schemes have come to fruition, though we are not convinced that best value for money has been obtained.
The Elsworth Fox (Whippet 9) connects Elsworth and other villages in the area (Boxworth, Conington, Fen Drayton, Knapwell and Lolworth) with buses on the A14 corridor to Cambridge, St Ives and Huntingdon. According to some publicity there is also a link to Swavesey Surgery. As a consequence of this service Whippet 8 has been withdrawn west of Bar Hill except for one return journey in the peak.
South of Newmarket a group of routes provides commuter and shopping links between villages in the area and Newmarket, allowing connections to/from Cambridge. On Wednesdays the shopping services are replaced by a market day link to Bury. There have been compensating cuts to some other services in the area, such as the 115 which is now restricted to one round trip to Newmarket.
The Peterborough Taxibus provides links at times suitable for London commuters from villages north of the city to the bus and rail stations. The scheme is based on the A15 corridor, but this has other buses at such times, so why not use a different route serving Marholm and Newborough in addition to Etton, Maxey and Peakirk (and Northborough)?
There have also been two changes that amount to significant cuts. One is in West Hunts where route 460 between Huntingdon and Kimbolton has been dropped. The 400 and 401 now provide peak-time services from West Hunts villages to Huntingdon, and the 402-9 provide shopping services to various towns. The latter are little changed but now all journeys run to/from Huntingdon, giving opportunities for visits to Hamerton Wildlife Park (Fridays and the 4th Wednesday of the month), Steeple Gidding church (Fridays, can be combined with Hamerton), and Grafham Water (Thursdays, also 1st and 2nd Wednesdays of the month).
We understand that Cambs CC has won Rural Bus Challenge funding for a connectional service in West Hunts similar to those mentioned above. But what is there to connect with at the moment? We badly need the ``A14 Express'' which, if the A14 improvements west of Huntingdon are handled correctly, would combine radically improved services for the villages with fast links between Cambridge or Huntingdon and the Midlands.
The other cut is the loss of the long standing through service between Peterborough and Leicester. The service has been increased to hourly between Leicester and Uppingham, but the formerly 2 hourly service to Peterborough has been reduced to just 3 journeys per day (nothing on Sundays), at times not suited to day trips from the Peterborough end. A change is required at Uppingham. However, the link between Uppingham and Stamford has been increased to 2 hourly, and it is possible to return this way with an extra change at Stamford. We understand that ticket interavailability is planned. But this is still a significant deterioration of service on this corridor. We would like to get all seven local transport authorities in the area together to provide an hourly service from Leicester to Peterborough (direct or via Stamford), and also to Stamford (direct or by changing at Uppingham). Villages in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that would benefit directly from our proposals include Barnack (south of village), Marholm, Sibson (for Wansford Nene Valley Railway station), Southorpe (with short walk), Stibbington, Thornhaugh, Ufford and Water Newton.
There have been reports in the press of improvements to Cambridge's Citi network at the end of the school term, but we have no coherent idea of what is planned.
Just outside the county, the long standing commuter express from Haverhill to London via Saffron Walden has been withdrawn. Is this due to continuing delays on the M11 due to the Stansted Airport spur project, and, if so, to what extent should the Highways Authority be held responsible for buses that are withdrawn as a consequence of its projects? Perhaps a more likely explanation is the advent of route X40 which uses the same route between Haverhill and Stansted Mountfitchet (thereby removing most of the hardship caused by the withdrawal) before diverting to Stansted Airport.
Norfolk and Suffolk. As usual the Broads have a varied events programme, for which see the ``Broadcaster'', obtainable from a Broads Information Centre (telephone 01603 610734). It can also be seen on the Web. Almost all the weekday events are accessible from Cambridge by public transport, though because of the lack of morning trains or buses few of the Sunday events are. Remember that you can save money with an Anglia Plus ticket by going via Stowmarket both ways and starting on or after the 08.31 train (no restrictions at weekends). Worthwhile starting points for regular boat trips include Beccles, Hickling, How Hill, Neatishead, Norwich, Oulton Broad, Potter Heigham, Ranworth, South Walsham (Fairhaven Garden) and Wroxham, in addition to the special trips from other points shown in the events guide. (The Norwich boat leaves from near the station at 11.15 and provides the easiest access to Whitlingham Country Park.)
The Norfolk Coasthopper now runs daily throughout the year between Hunstanton and Sheringham, though connections via Kings Lynn tend to be poor. If visiting the western part of the coast, the cheapest way is to ask at Cambridge or Ely station for a day return to Hunstanton; railcard discounts also seem to apply to the bus add-on. Peterborough and Wisbech people catch the X94 to Kings Lynn and ask for a First Ranger, which is valid on the Coasthopper.
We understand that Norfolk has opted out of the Sunday Rover scheme. First Rangers are also valid on Sunday services within Norfolk run by other operators, except for the 29 (Norwich-Fakenham-Wells) and the 110 (Norwich-Banham Zoo). A pity as the 29 is well suited to become an element in a round trip through North Norfolk.
A place of manifold interest in Suffolk is Orford, which, however, is notoriously difficult to get to. Wednesday is now the easiest day: 06.43 train to Ipswich, bus 81 at 08.50 from the town centre to Snape Maltings, from which bus 194 leaves at 10.10. An alternative is to get the 09.15 train from Ipswich to Saxmundham arriving 09.52, though it's a bit of a tight connection to the bus at 10.00. Last return is 18.44 to Melton where there's a 2 minute connection for the train to Ipswich and Cambridge (otherwise get a bus at Woodbridge, though one can get back to Cambridge even from the next train).
Essex is still actively marketing its Sunday Saver and Sunday Rover facilities. The summer Sunday bus chain from Cambridge to Burnham on Crouch via Saffron Walden, Thaxted, Finchingfield, Braintree, Cressing Temple, Witham and Maldon is running again till the end of September. The Radwinter diversion for the bus service (originally helpful to Cambridge people starting on route 38) has been removed. A pity the Council didn't take the opportunity to extend the service to start at Audley End station. Ferries run from Harwich (to Felixstowe and Shotley), Wivenhoe (to Rowhedge and Fingringhoe), Burnham (to Wallasea), and Tilbury (to Gravesend, though there have been problems with this route). There is also a programme of river trips from Burnham. One attraction for which this year will be the last is the nuclear bunker at Mistley.
For some reason the Essex guide omits route X40 between Bury, Haverhill, Saffron Walden and Stansted Airport, which leads one to suspect that Sunday Rovers (and First Rangers?) are not available on this route, presumably because it's an airport service.
In Herts the Chiltern Rambler from Hemel Hempstead and the Shaw Shuttle from Welwyn Garden City are running again this year, the former on Sundays and the latter on Wednesdays and Sundays. Also some buses on route 343 from St Albans to Dunstable are extended to Whipsnade Zoo. There's also an all-year on-demand minibus link from Broxbourne station to Paradise Wildlife Park.
However, route 610 which used to serve Great Wood Country Park on Mondays to Fridays has been rerouted and no longer does so; the infrequent 308 and 380 go quite near but otherwise it's better to take a longer walk. There is a new bus route between Borehamwood and Potters Bar (398).
Around London there have been a number of recent changes in Travelcard validity. In addition to the 465 to Dorking and 405 to Redhill, one can now use the 246 to Westerham and Chartwell, Winston Churchill's house now owned by the National Trust. (However the service beyond Chartwell has been given a new number, 236, and severely cut.) South Mimms is off the network. Cuffley is only accessible by the W10 as the 610 no longer goes there (see above); but Travelcards are still valid on the 610 to Northaw and Potters Bar (Mon-Fri only). Of course people on the Great Northern network can get to Potters Bar and Cuffley by train.
In Northants the Saunterbus is running again this year, but only on Sundays -- there are no August weekday trips as there have been in past years. The routes are unchanged: the Stowe Saunter (X5 Cambridge to Buckingham) on 14/7, 4/8 and 25/8, the Brampton Valley Saunter on 16/6 and 26/8 (X5/X2 from Cambridge or X4 from Peterborough to Northampton), the Danetre Saunter on 28/7 (ditto), the Heritage Saunter on 21/7 and 1/9 (X5 Cambridge to MK Coachway then X49, or X4 Peterborough to Wellingborough), the John Clare Saunter on 23/6, 18/8 and 15/9 (many options from Peterborough), the Rockingham Saunter on 7/7 and 11/8 (X4 Peterborough to Kettering or rail from Bedford), and the Rutland Saunter on 30/6 and 8/9 (rail Bedford to Kettering or Peterborough to Oakham). Recommended outward journeys from Cambridge and Peterborough are shown; use first bus or train in almost all cases. The return may be by a different route. Stagecoach Explorers and Sunday Rovers are valid on the Saunterbus.
In the South of England buses will be running every Saturday and Sunday from Brighton to the Devils Dyke (the Sunday service is all year), also on Sundays to Stanmer Park and (when roadworks are complete, probably in August) to Ditchling Beacon. Timetables on the Brighton & Hove Bus Company website. The cheapest way to Brighton is by Thameslink Daysave which gives unlimited travel on Thameslink trains. Tickets may be purchased at various Tourist Information Offices (including Bedford and Luton) or from the Thameslink website (a week in advance). Rail ticket holders can get a discount on the bus fare for the above services.
Further to the north, the Tunbridge Wells Heritage Hopper has been discontinued. National Trust buses run from Staplehurst to Sissinghurst (Tuesdays and Sundays, ring 01580 710700 for details); there are also regular buses within reasonable walking distance. Another National Trust bus runs from Dorking to Polesden Lacey (ring 01372 452048 for details).
This year it is hoped that the Ridgeway Explorer will be running on Saturdays as well as Sundays in high season. Use X5 Cambridge to Oxford then 31 to Wantage. On Sundays this gives a 1 minute connection, so don't use it unless you have a back-up plan for the day. The area has lots of scenic buses on weekdays -- pick up a comprehensive timetable in Newbury. These scenic routes include the postbuses mentioned earlier as being at risk. One route that has been badly cut is the 20 from Newbury to Andover.
In the East Midlands the Nottinghamshire Sherwood Explorer is running again. The route that will take you from Grantham to Belvoir Castle is this year numbered F4. (From Cambridge buy a day return to Lincoln, or Sleaford if you are sure you want to return from Grantham rather than Newark.) Harlaxton Manor, on the route, will be open this year on 7/7 and 18/8. The Sherwood Forester scheme covers most buses in Notts and gives access from Newark (though that's hard to reach from Cambridge on a Sunday) to many parts of the county.
One weekday route worthy of note is the new hourly service between Grantham and Loughborough via Melton Mowbray. It is also worth mentioning that there have been changes to the Nottingham-Newark bus service that make it easier for people with return rail tickets to Lincoln to pick up the last train from Newark with a connection to Cambridge.
Recreational services available in most National Parks are fairly similar to those of previous years. There are some worthwhile improvements in the North York Moors, which has been linked with the Yorkshire Wolds so that one can travel from one to the other within a day. In the Yorkshire Dales there are no new services, but some that have been taken off in recent years have been put back on. In the Brecon Beacons try out the access route to/from Bridgend (which takes an interesting ``over the tops'' route through the Welsh Valleys), the route over Torpantau (which will also be accessible by rail, though probably not till next year), and the route to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales near Carmarthen. The Pembrokeshire Coast has some new services coming up for the summer school holidays, and continuing till the end of September.
Going down from National Parks to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Wye Valley Wanderer from Pershore to Chepstow and the Malverns Hill Hopper between Malvern and Ledbury will be running again this year. There is a new route on the Shropshire Hills network run on behalf of the National Trust; this connects with the Long Mynd shuttle at Ratlinghope and gives access to the Stiperstones. Unfortunately the timetable of the Wenlock Shuttle has been changed so that it no longer connects with the bus from Telford to Much Wenlock; probably the best access is via Shrewsbury and Minsterley, the latter served by the Stiperstones Shuttle.