Disclaimer: contents of articles do not necessarily reflect Transport 2000 policy at either national or branch level. Please give us your thoughts on any transport related topic, however small. This will help us develop our policies. We will try to pursue any complaint or suggestion or advise you how to pursue it yourself.
We apologise for the longer than expected gap following our last newsletter, but this one should arrive in time for members to send an official objection to the A47 Thorney By-pass proposals (closing date 8 Nov). Objections may be sent by post to the Highways Agency at Heron House, 49-53 Goldington Road, Bedford MK40 3LL (include reference HA 65/30/91 and heading "A47 Thorney By-pass" in your letter) or emailed to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
We are not objecting to the principle of a by-pass, nor to its route. Our objection is on two grounds:
(a) The lack of consideration for bus users. The official leaflet promoting the scheme includes an impact assessment on many categories of people, but bus users are not among them. Buses serving Thorney are the 36 local service to Peterborough and the X94 strategic link between Peterborough and Lowestoft. The former is unlikely to be affected, but the latter may well be. Possibly the operator (First Eastern Counties) may choose to reroute the service via the by-pass, in which case the village will lose almost all of its buses to Wisbech and beyond. (This has already happened to the village of Eye on the same corridor.) Or if FEC chooses to maintain a service to the village, the route will become less competitive for through passengers as compared with driving. In either case bus users will not benefit.
(b) The decision to build a dual carriageway. This is essentially the nub of our objection: it encompasses the previous factor as FEC are less likely to desert the village is the by-pass is built as a single carriageway.
Why is a dual carriageway being chosen? The reasons given are as follows:
A: The volume of traffic on the road is sufficient to justify a dual carriageway. If so, then there would be justification for dualling the whole route -- a scheme explicitly dropped from the roads programme a few years ago. Are the Highways Agency trying to reinstate it by stealth? Traffic volumes certainly don't require a dual carriageway.
B: Dual carriageways are safer. True, but there will be greater potential for accidents where the road narrows to single carriageway at either end of the by-pass. And safety improvements could be procured far more cost-effectively by means such as traffic calming and speed cameras.
C: Building a dual carriageway will reduce the risk of traffic having to divert through the village when the road is closed by an accident. We hope that this will not be often enough to make this argument cogent!
We suspect that a dual carriageway Thorney By-pass will act as a "Trojan Horse" leading to the dualling of the whole route, because of the arguments mentioned above about the interface between dual and single carriageways and the Highways Agency guidelines. Just as the Bedford By-pass has acted as a Trojan Horse leading to the dualling of the whole A428/A421 route between Cambridge and Milton Keynes, all of which is on the cards for the near future (though not all sections are yet in the roads programme). If that happens then the dualling will inevitably encourage more traffic, which will negate any safety benefits, and worsen the congestion situation, as the routes which will bear this extra traffic will almost certainly already be more congested than the A47 is now.
The A428/A421 corridor includes the Great Barford by-pass, to which we have objected for similar reasons. As the whole stretch between the Bedford By-pass and the A1 is being dualled, this will surely encourage more traffic -- even if the Highways Agency disputes this. (In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, they would, wouldn't they?)
There are other roads elsewhere in the country where dualling is also being pushed. In Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, a series of linked by-passes (including the Clapham By-pass mentioned in our last newsletter) seems to be converting most of the A6 into a high quality highway -- even though this route is supposedly being detrunked, and there is a parallel railway. One of the sticking points in the scheme to remove traffic from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site by means of a tunnel on the A303 is the extra cost of a dual carriageway, which has led to a plan to economise by using cut & cover rather than a bored tunnel regardless of the damage to the archaeology of the area. Further west, dualling of another section of the A303 threatens the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the North Pennines AONB is threatened by the A66 dualling. That's just the ones we know about, there are almost certainly lots of others.
Returning to the A428/A421, proposals for the section between Cambridge and Caxton Gibbet are expected to be published very soon. Please let us know if you want to be kept in touch so that you can lodge an objection to this should the closing date be before we send out our next newsletter. We believe that this scheme will be much more damaging than the others, ironically because it can be justified on congestion grounds: this makes it all the more likely to lead to extra traffic, to the extent that overall congestion will merely be transferred elsewhere, e.g. to Madingley Road, Cambridge, where it will undermine the ability of this corridor to provide effective public transport.
And for both the A428/A421 and the A47 (as well as for other routes such as the A14), we are calling for the schemes to include "virtual stations" so that buses can serve the villages even if they use the by-pass. A virtual station should include a bridge over or under the road (to allow safe crossing), a pair of bus stops on either side of the road, reasonably secure cycle parking, and real time information. This would be appropriate for Eye and Thorney on the A47, Great Barford and Roxton on the A421, Cambourne, Hardwick and Eltisley on the A428, and numerous villages on the A14. (The by-pass schemes include the bridges needed on the A47 and A421, but our campaign for a bridge at Cambourne has so far failed. On the A14 there are proposals for several new bridges west of Brampton which would cover most, but not all, of what is needed.)
Our AGM will be held on Sat 7 Dec at 2.30 at the Secretary's home at 1 Fitzroy Lane, Cambridge (this is behind and west of the Grafton Centre, and an easy walk from the bus station and city centre). The agenda for this meeting is enclosed with this newsletter. Please send any nominations for any branch posts listed on Page 1, also any other business that you wish to be discussed, to the Coordinator as soon as possible unless you are planning to attend the meeting.
Some members have still not renewed their subscription for 2002-3. If we are still awaiting a renewal from you, a renewal slip will have been enclosed herewith. This is likely to be the final notice whether you are a former CAMBUC member or not. The subscription rates are still GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5-00 household/affiliate. If you don't want to get another renewal slip soon, why not subscribe for two years at twice these prices? Remember to ensure that we have up to date contact details.
In July the Government issued its consultation paper on the future of aviation. You have until the end of November to send comments, and it is hoped that as many members as possible will choose to do this. The address to write to is Future Development of Air Transport -- South East, Department for Transport, Zone 1/28C, FREEPOST LON 17806, London SW1P 4YS.
The document is based on a "predict and provide" strategy which ignores the very real costs which ever increasing aviation will pose to our quality of life.
Foremost among these costs is probably climate change. Aircraft emissions are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and these are particularly damaging in the upper atmosphere where they fly. Short of converting our entire economy to renewable energy and using this to synthesise aircraft fuel, there is no "technological fix" on the horizon. A sea level rise of a mere 10 metres would flood every town in Cambridgeshire: any barrier to stop this would have to span the whole length of the Wash and would be a major project. There are people now alive who can expect to lose their homes to global warming if they stay in Cambridgeshire.
Then there is traffic generation. Currently, at even the best of airports about 2/3 of passengers arrive by individual motor transport (car, taxi etc.). This is an amazingly high figure when one considers that few air travellers will have a car available at both ends of their journey, and remember that our airports are used by people from abroad visiting this country as well as our own people leaving it.
Then there is airport-related development. This refers not only to businesses that are directly related to airports, but also to businesses which locate to be near airports. This factor is not relevant to those areas -- mostly outside the south-east -- whose fondest desire would be to attract new development, but it certainly applies to Stansted, which we believe has been a prime cause of the overheating of the economy in the Cambridge area. At present it has a capacity of 15 million passengers per year (due to rise to 25 million with schemes already under way). It was used by 12 million in 2000. If it has had such an effect at current levels, what will it be like with 122 million, this being the forecast use in 2030 under the "maximum expansion" scenario of three new runways? (The capacity will be 129 million.)
We haven't yet mentioned noise because this only affects a relatively small area -- though it may have a devastating effect on the quality of life for people who live or otherwise use areas under flight paths. Local air pollution -- such as the smell one can't help noticing around airports -- affects an even smaller number, but, again, it can have an even greater effect on people's quality of life given the health consequences of some forms of pollution.
We should also mention the proposal to use Alconbury as an airport for freight and low cost passenger services. We strongly object to the principle of encouraging the growth of low cost passenger traffic -- this will only lead to pressure to upgrade it to a major airport (as has happened at Stansted). The scheme to use it for freight seems to be based on the assumption that it would provide an acceptable site for night flights -- which, given the number of villages dotted around the area, we doubt (and anyway Alconbury is not a very suitable site given the lack of capacity on both the road and rail networks). We would not object in principle to using Alconbury as a relocation site for Cambridge airport, but we believe that significant growth beyond this scale would be unacceptable.
The other major airport in our region is Luton. At present this has 6 million passengers per year, out of a total capacity of 10 million. The proposal is to extend or realign the runway so that the airport can take 30 million -- which we believe to be unacceptable in an area sandwiched between a congested town and attractive countryside.
Our response will therefore include the following elements:
1. Seek a European tax on aviation fuel. This will "internalise" many of the environmental costs of aviation and put it on a level playing field as compared with alternative modes of transport.
2. Grade Air Passenger Duty according to the environmental performance of airports. This will include the fuel efficiency of their operations, the amount of noise nuisance they cause, and the proportion of passenger and staff movements by public transport, for which a target of 50-75% should be set.
3. Stimulate long distance travel by train as an alternative to short and medium haul aviation. High speed trains can provide an attractive alternative to short haul flights -- Eurostar has already brought Paris within day trip distance of London. Overnight trains can cater for longer trips -- we need to reactivate the former proposals for night trains through the Channel Tunnel. But perhaps equally important is to reduce fares and make the ticketing system more user friendly -- with a zonal pricing system there is no reason why one shouldn't be able to buy a ticket at a local agency taking one to anywhere in Europe (whether or not it has a rail station) with no more fuss than buying a domestic rail ticket.
4. Make the aviation industry repay society for the right to invade our airspace. Even limited growth of airports should bring with it a duty to support major improvements to our public transport network. Airports -- especially those situated where they can be served by through trains or buses (as opposed to those terminating at the airport) -- are natural transport hubs, and a network of railways and bus routes converging at airports would fill many of the gaps in our strategic transport network. There would also be local benefits from services whose main purpose was to bring in airport workers. Below are some proposals in this direction. Please note that these do not represent official Transport 2000 policy either locally or nationally.
5. Make any expansion, however limited, dependent on legal agreements that prevent the airport from seeking further expansion beyond a defined limit. The efficacy of this can be seen in the case of Gatwick where the Government has ruled out expansion because of a legal agreement banning any new runway before 2019. (It should be noted that some local authorities are seeking a judicial review because they believe that this constraint has thrown the burden onto them. However this argument could not be used if legal agreements were made for all major airports, and this would give the aviation industry time to reorganise itself so that it could live without endless expansion.)
Here are some strategic public transport enhancements that it would be appropriate to seek in conjunction with expansion of the relevant airports, and which would being side benefits to our area. Please note that none of these imply that we favour the relevant airport expansions.
Note that the Government has been very timid in its proposals for public transport improvements: for example even the eastern link between Stansted and Braintree is only assumed if Stansted gets 4 runways (the 122 million passenger scenario referred to above). By contrast the Coordinator, before his involvement with any organised transport campaign, called for the route suggested in (a) below as an essential pre-condition for the adoption of Stansted as London's third airport more than 20 years ago. This timidity should be strongly attacked independently of one's attitude to airport expansion.
(a) New east-west rail link from Colchester to Oxford via Braintree, Stansted Airport, Harlow, Ware, Stevenage, Hitchin, Flitwick, Ridgmont and Milton Keynes. (Note that this would provide a route for trains from East Anglia via Cambridge, which would join the line at Hitchin; however we do not see this as an alternative to the east-west rail link via Huntingdon and Bedford. See also (d) below.)
(b) Express coach link from Cambridge to Gatwick via Stansted and the eastern corridor, which at present would stop at Harold Wood (for Great Eastern main line), Lakeside shopping centre, Crossways Business Park, Greenhithe station, Bluewater shopping centre, Swanley station, Westerham and Oxted station. The above would include links with all main radial corridors from London. New infrastructure could bring further improvements. A rail link on this corridor would be worthwhile if an airport was built at Cliffe on the Thames estuary.
(c) Light rail link from Hitchin station via Luton airport, Luton, Dunstable then either to Leighton Buzzard or via Cheddington to Aylesbury. Hitchin, of course, has rail links with most Cambridgeshire stations.
(d) The east-west rail link between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, Bedford and Huntingdon would provide an opportunity to serve Alconbury from both the east and west.
(e) A rail link to Northampton would provide opportunities to link with Birmingham Airport. In our last newsletter we suggested a link from Cambridge to Bedford via Shepreth and Sandy which would combine with the reopening of Bedford-Northampton (suggested by the London-South Midlands Multi-Modal Study) to provide such a route. The Liberal Democrats in St Neots have suggested a Cambridge-Bedford direct route passing through their town. An alternative would be to provide a route via Huntingdon and Wellingborough, which would have the advantage of also serving Peterborough.
(f) Existing or new routes between East Anglia and Loughborough could be extended to Derby via East Midlands Airport, which would also put the airport on a Birmingham-Nottingham route. The airport is already well used for freight and a rail link might get some lorries off the roads.
It is recommended that members do not stick to the official questionnaire, whose questions are loaded so as to make it difficult to oppose aviation expansion per se. Also, don't actively support the major expansion of any airport, as this will undermine the efforts of anti-expansion campaigners there. However it may be appropriate to suggest a "least worst" option -- but ensure that it is clearly recognisable as such rather than as what you want.
In the headline article we referred to the efficacy of speed cameras in making our roads safer. In our last newsletter we referred to the proposed Government guidelines which restrict the establishment of cameras as a "speeder's charter", and also referred to other worthwhile advantages that a reduction in speed could bring.
At the time, our parent organisation, Transport 2000, was preparing to join other organisations in bringing legal action to challenge these guidelines, which they view as condoning lawbreaking. This action has now started, and Transport 2000 have asked concerned people to write to their local press supporting them and showing that we aren't all "speed freaks". Look for relevant articles or letters which might form a peg to hang one of your own letters.
It is worth noting that it is right that some speed cameras should be conspicuous, to deter motorists from speeding at black spots; but it is also necessary that motorists should not be able to assume that where they can't see a camera there isn't one there and they can therefore go as fast as they like.
Some motorists also object to speed cameras as a "stealth tax". Well, if so it is one they can easily avoid simply by staying within the speed limits. Even if one does not accept that speed can have undesirable consequences, there is surely much to be said for a system of taxation which people can avoid if they so wish. If the police use speed cameras as a revenue raiser rather than for safety reasons, don't we all benefit from the resulting improvement in law enforcement?
Never forget that when a car hits a pedestrian at 20mph, there is a 90% chance of survival; at 30mph this falls to 50%, and at 40mph to 10%.
In July the Secretary attended a meeting on the effects of elected regional assemblies. Here is a report.
When Scotland and Wales for their Regional Government, the Prime Minister promised similar elected regional assemblies for England. They now feel the need to have a referendum to develop these from the eight regional development agencies already appointed. The MP for South Cambridgeshire, Andrew Lansley, thinks this moves control away from the people. Transport 2000 held a meeting to discuss the structure of Assemblies and what powers they might have. It seems that the referendum is considered a formality and the real question is how would people vote for members. At present, RDAs are all appointed, though elected local representatives are included.
The Regional Assemblies would take over the County Councils' role, with influence on planning and development on major roads (but not motorways). The spheres of interest would also cover health, social housing, crime and waste: we do not know whether Government would impose a split of funds between th spheres of influence. Assemblies would not be involved in service delivery such as maintenance or counting traffic. They would control grants and major constructions. And they would be able to call expert witnesses and to appoint advisory panels.
Government may attach key targets to grants but no mention was made of imposed splits between capital and revenue spending. Assemblies will certainly have more freedom than county councils now when it comes to negotiating a road line or new bus route. Sustainable development is stated as an aim. Assemblies would capture rail franchising and coach licensing abnd, no doubt, set bus subsidies. There was little mention of freight.
Some members of each Assembly will be elected by the general public, as stakeholders, and some will be appointed. The Government are aware that local authority appointees should not have a heavy influence. Appointments will be made by professional bodies such as the Confederation of British Industry and Freight Transport Association. It is suggested that these assembly members will also be expected to sit on regional bus licensing meetings, housing forums and hospital boards. The good news is that the assembly work will mostly be done by electronic communications and cash will be available for equipment. A body to scrutinise the Assemblies is suggested but County Councils may vanish.
The Secretary has reviewed the book Transport Lessons from the Fuel Tax Protests of 2000, edited by Glenn Lyons and Kiron Chatterjee, published by Ashgate this year, with ISBN number 0-7546-1844-7.
This book is well presented in a clear, legible print and style. There is a very perceptive foreword but the temptation to read only this chapter should be resisted. Decision makers wanting some guidance on what to do next time should also refrain from skipping from there to the final, summary chapter.
The rapid escalation of the blockade was supported by car drivers who wanted cheaper petrol. It is encouraging to know that the end of the blockade occurred when activists found that hospitals were not getting the supplies they needed and public opinion changed. By this time, the eighth day, they also knew that the Government were taking the matter seriously. So communications had a hand in stopping the dispute as well as hastening the loss of fuel at garages.
Motorway congestion disappeared as a fifth of peak hour car drivers transferred to an alternative of some kind. This proves the traffic engineers' contention that only a few people need to change their habits to remove the costly delays of congestion. Saying that one new bus route cannot transfer everyone is not an excuse for doing nothing.
Possible answers to such questions are set out in this book. There is useful information about the motivation behind permanent modal change for four different journey purposes.
A careful study of the whole of this book is required to allow planning and good judgement over the likely duration of the next crisis. Are we better prepared and is it possible? The authors think that the protest will take a very different form next time. They also point out that the surveys undertaken for this book, and clearly presented, indicate that "car drivers" are not a coherent group who can be manipulated.
Decision makers should be considering, now, the vulnerability of "just in time" deliveries, and whether immediate action such as rationing customers might counter the real problems of panic buying. Bus companies need to develop emergency timetables, including evening trips, which would continue the service as long as possible, whether the shortage be of fuel or drivers.
Thomas Cook European Timetable, August 2002 edition.
The Timetable Editor Brendan Fox, who also maintains the Peterborough bus information website which is on our "links" web page, completed 20 years of editorship with the above edition. He wrote a retrospective feature for this edition describing how services had changed over this period.
For those who don't know, Thomas Cook publish two timetables which together cover all major surface transport routes worldwide. One is the European timetable, produced monthly, which covers the whole of Europe including the western part of the former Soviet Union. The other is the Overseas timetable, produced every two months, which covers the rest of the world. All inter-city rail routes are included, together with a selection of subsidiary and suburban routes -- and, especially outside Europe where the rail network is often sparse, major bus routes. Regular shipping services are also included.
These timetables can be purchased from branches of Thomas Cook. They are also taken by some major libraries, including Cambridge central library.
The timetables are especially useful to people with tickets such as Inter-Rail (yes, this is still available whether or not you are under 26) which encourage international rail travel.
Thomas Cook also publish a number of other guides for independent travellers. Details can be seen in the European and Overseas timetables.
So, how have rail services changed over the last 20 years? The comments below are the Coordinator's rather than those of Brendan Fox, which concentrated on decribing the changes rather than commenting on their desirability.
Perhaps the most important change is the development of high speed services. This country has not yet "joined the club", but will be doing so next year when Phase I of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link opens. (Its track can already be seen at locations such as the A2 near Gravesend.)
At the same time there has been a decline in long distance trains for "classic" travellers, of which the most famous is the Orient Express (though this had already ceased in its original form by 1982). Like many domestic transport corridors -- whether roads, railways or even bus routes -- they cater not so much for end to end travellers as for an overlapping network of shorter distance journeys, and were vulnerable to the abstraction of many of these by high speed trains (which do not generally cater for night-time travel and are therefore unsuitable for trans-continental journeys) as well as the dubious attractions (environmentally speaking) of air (and road) travel.
There has been a drastic decline in the number of through trains from Channel and North Sea Ports in Continental Europe, which formerly provided direct connections with ferries from our own ports. Passengers are now expected to pick up the relevant trains in the capitals or other major cities in the relevant countries. The trouble is that the Eurostar service that now provides the main route -- indeed, for many longer journeys, the only possible route not requiring an overnight stay en route -- is neither priced to compete with airlines for journeys beyond Paris or Brussels nor integrated with them as far as ticketing is concerned. Indeed, it is now a major operation to purchase a European rail ticket at all (for example, Cambridge station, once described as one of the stations where European tickets were most in demand, no longer sells them). We can't help feeling that this is a significant factor in the massive expansion of air travel -- many people prefer to deal with a live human being rather than a voice coming from a call centre.
Work has now started on the A505 "Duxford Safety Scheme" referred to in previous newsletters. In connection with the work a speed limit has been imposed on the A505. Our reaction is that that is all that needs to be done!
We tried to ask Forest Heath District Council to impose a planning condition for the rebuild and upgrade of Centre Parcs near Elveden on the A11 requiring them to seek a stop for National Express 727 which passes near the site (as no other regular public transport route does). Unfortunately we heard about the planning application too late for our response to be considered. But surely any responsible planning authority should have a duty to look into the transport implications of such major developments?
The Rail Passenger Council for Eastern England, in its most recent annual report, mentioned a proposal for a Grantham relief road which would sever the rail station from the rest of the town. Why must public transport users always be pushed aside so that roads can slice through towns? Peterborough is another example. We hope that the scheme never comes to fruition.
Transport for London has issued a series of cycling maps which together cover the whole of Greater London. They include complete street maps, and much other local information, so are useful for non-cyclists too. Also in London, the second Hungerford footbridge (linking the Embankment with the South Bank and close to the National Express coach stop for the former) has now opened. When last visited the work was still incomplete, though, so one couldn't walk through to Charing Cross station. And even when it is complete it still won't restore the former route which ran through to Waterloo station without requiring one to descend to street level. Nearby, the north side of Trafalgar Square has been pedestrianised, with corresponding changes to local bus routes. A pity that nothing has been done about traffic in the Mall, which destroys the amenities of the two Royal Parks which the road separates.
The winter timetable saw the introduction of the long awaited direct service between Cambridge and Norwich. At the same time, Anglia Plus tickets were made available over this route. Note that contrary to Anglia publicity, these tickets are valid on Central Trains services on the whole of this route (not just Thetford-Norwich), but not, as far as we know, on WAGN trains between Cambridge and Ely. Also, Network Railcards are calid on the new service, and therefore remain valid on all trains, between Cambridge and Ely.
However, most of the other rail news relevant to our area is bad. Central Trains have a new fare system which abolishes Supersavers and bans the use of Savers before 09.00 on Mondays to Fridays. However, this only applies to fares they control -- there are still no restrictions on Saver tickets from places like Cambridge to places like Doncaster, which are set by GNER. In compensation the cost of Central's Savers is slightly reduced. Day returns such as Cambridge to Lincoln may still be valid earlier (in this case from 08.00). Note that it is Central Trains, and not Anglia, who set the fare between Cambridge and Norwich, so only the higher priced Open Return is now available for those starting early, whoever's train they use. (There are no Day Returns on this route, but those atarting after 08.45 -- or on the 08.31 from Cambridge to Ipswich -- can use the Anglia Plus ticket.)
Also, the timings of Central Trains cross-country services have been altered: they are now faster in the Midlands but this is offset by increased journey times east of March. And at around 23.00 there are four trains which run through Peterborough -- north, south, east and west -- without a single recognised connection, including the former link from the North to Cambridge.
The long public inquiry into the Thameslink 2000 proposals which include direct links between Peterborough, Cambridge and Kings Lynn and the South Coast, has resulted in a recommendation (which has been accepted) that the scheme should not go ahead until the proponents have done more to satisfy objectors that there will be no long term effects on the heritage area of Borough Market, where the main lines from the Thameslink route and Charing Cross together currently converge on just two tracks.
Cambridgeshire County Council announced a few months ago that, contrary to its published Bus Strategy on which the public were consulted, it is abandoning its series of area timetable booklets. We have complained about this, saying that people should be given easy access to county-wide timetable information if they are to be encouraged to use public transport, especially for leisure journeys (and one must remember the vast number of tourists who visit Cambridge).
Since then it has emerged that they might have to cut some subsidised bus services next year. This, too, is contrary to the impression given in the bus strategy document of continuous improvement.
Some services that have been withdrawn on a commercial basis have not been replaced -- notably the section of the 16/17 between Cambridge City Centre and the Meadows estate, which (like the "airfield road" between Oakington and Longstanton) includes a section of route which is barred to general traffic and therefore would seem to offer a special opportunity for a bus service. However Cambridge City Council is supporting improved evening services in the City (routes C2, C4 and C5).
Here are some of the more significant changes:
C1 (Kings Hedges-Fulbourn): Reduced frequency early mornings and evenings, and on the section between Fulbourn village and Fulbourn Tesco.
C4 (Meadows-Cherry Hinton): This is now the only route to the Meadows estate, and provides a very circuitous link with the City Centre (via Chesterton). It uses a new road link between Cambridge Regional College and the Science Park. Half hourly daytime and hourly evenings (running as far as the Beehive centre). On Sundays the 8A, which serves a similar route north of the City Centre (but missing out the Science Park), is renumbered 4A.
C5 (Trumpington Park & Ride-Fen Estate): New hourly evening service.
C6 (Oakington-Fulbourn): New route replacing 12, 16 and 17, half hourly daytimes.
16/17 (Cambridge-Haverhill/Newmarket): New routes between Cambridge and Haverhill (16) or Newmarket (17), also replacing former 44 (not Stagecoach journeys which continue to run) and 115. 2 hourly with gaps to Haverhill, 2 journeys only to Newmarket. Serves the Coleridge Road area.
35 (Cambridge-Duxford): It is reported that this service is due to be axed in January, with Little Shelford served only by the infrequent 31, which will provide no link to Great Shelford or Sawston. There will be other changes to the 32-34 group which will maintain frequencies to Whittlesford, though. The County Council is not intending to provide any replacement.
36/37 (Peterborough-Thorney/Crowland): New Sunday service, hourly with gaps between Peterborough and Eye, extending alternately to Thorney (36) and Crowland (37). Unfortunately still no service to Spalding, which is currently totally isolated apart from a couple of express coaches.
60 (Flag Fen-Ferry Meadows): New leisure service using the Peterborough Taxibus. Runs throughout the year on Sundays, and except winter on Saturdays, also Wednesdays when the schools are on holiday. This route means that for the first time there is reasonable access to Flag Fen museum. Passengers from Cambridge can in principle connect into the 12.05 ex Peterborough using the Whippet bus from Cambridge (and buying a Sunday Rover), but this connection is not guaranteed. For those who prefer to walk to/from Flag Fen in one direction, the nearest bus route is Stanground (route 54), then use the Green Wheel. The alternative is to walk along the riverside from the City Centre.
292 (Ely-Mildenhall): No longer serves Ely station.
X4 (Peterborough-Northampton): Improved evening service on this route.
010 (Cambridge-London): This National Express service is now operated "in house" by Jetlink, a subsidiary of National Express, instead of by Stagecoach. As a result, it is no longer garaged at Cowley Road and no longer serves any stop north of Drummer St (except for the single journey which runs through to Kings Lynn). Also removed is the stop at Bank (except Monday to Friday peaks). Stops are added at Bow Church DLR (all journeys except non-stop reliefs), Blackfriars (the journeys that stop at Bank), and almost all buses now stop at Trumpington Park & Ride. The Westminster stop is moved to the other side of Lambeth Bridge.
350 (Clacton-Liverpool): This National Express service has some significant retimings, with several journeys running earlier.
Now for what we think should be done. We would like to float the idea that the more frequent services, if they arrive early in the City Centre, should not await their scheduled departure time, at least unless the bus behind is running late. Instead a guarantee should be offered of a maximum waiting time (perhaps 15 minutes). The purpose of this is to avoid delays to other buses which get held up behind the waiting vehicles. Under the proposals below the "high frequency" routes would be the C1 (northbound and possibly southbound), C2, C3, C4 (possibly southbound only), and park & ride routes 77, 88 and 99.
Also, it is totally unsatisfactory that a route such as the C1 has no timing points between its northern terminus and the City Centre, about 25 minutes away. People at intermediate stops have to guess when their bus will arrive -- this may be OK when it is running every 10 minutes (except for people with trains to catch or appointments at Addenbrookes, who need to know whether their service will wait time in the City Centre, see above) but not when it is down to every 20 or 30 minutes.
Here is a proposed network for Cambridge City. We have also included changes in the Little Shelford area (see above), as the minimum required to make our proposals self contained. We have also included an amendment to one of the proposals in our last newsletter (route X11).
We believe that if our proposed C6 was supported then the rest of the network could be introduced within existing budgets.
C1: One earlier southbound and later northbound journey on both weekdays and Sundays. (A look through the rail timetable will show that this will give access to a great variety of trains.) Also, journeys to/from Fulbourn diverted to serve Teversham rather than Tesco. All journeys interwork with new C4 route (see below) which would provide through facilities to Tesco. The extension of all journeys to Fulbourn would allow this route to be run on the "high frequency" basis mentioned above.
C2 and C3: No change.
C4: Journeys start at Fulbourn village or Tesco, interworking with the C1 (see above). Every 10 minutes from Tesco (or Fulbourn village under the "high frequency" basis mentioned above) to the City Centre, then three route options: Histon Rd, Meadows, CRC, Science Park, Chesterton (half hourly daytime, hourly evenings, diverted via Fen Estate); the same in reverse (same frequency); and Chesterton, Fen Estate (half hourly daytime only). This would restore the link from Buchan St to Histon Rd and increase frequency on the latter.
C5: Longstanton, Asylum Centre (replaces Home Office contract bus), Oakington, as existing C6 to Hills Rd, Station, Tenison Rd, Mill Rd, Coleridge Rd, Cherry Hinton Rd then as existing route to Trumpington P&R. Half hourly daytime, hourly evenings. Interworks with new C6 (see below). Advantages: better services to Longstanton and new link from various areas to station.
C6: Trumpington P&R, Foster Rd, Grantchester, Gough Way, Grange Rd, City Centre then as existing C4 to Cherry Hinton. Half hourly daytime only. New route for unserved parts of Newnham and also replaces 31 in Trumpington.
X11: Updating the proposal in the last newsletter, we call for morning journeys from Cambridge to run via Bottisham instead of Newmarket Tesco. Afternoon buses would do the same in reverse, thus giving the village a day out facility to Bury. All journeys would continue to serve Kentford.
16/17: As now except that route west of Fulbourn is via Mill Rd, Sainsburys, Barnwell Rd, Newmarket Rd, Airport Way and Teversham. Advantages: new links to/from Sainsburys and Abbey.
31: 2 hourly Cambridge, Addenbrookes, Gt Shelford, Lt Shelford, Hauxton village, Harston, Newton then as now.
77 P&R: Diverted to run to station rather than Newmarket Rd. Serves all stops on Madingley Rd. Advantages: new link from University expansion area to station.
88 P&R: Extended to Newmarket Rd to replace 77.
99 P&R: No change.
112: From Cambridge runs as 31 (see above) to Lt Shelford then via Whittlesford, Duxford, Ickleton, Gt Chesterford, Littlebury (when bridgeworks complete) and Saffron Walden. 2 hourly, combined hourly on common section with 31. Advantages: maintains hourly service to Lt Shelford including links to Gt Shelford and Whittlesford, restores links to Saffron Walden from villages and Addenbrookes, and puts Littlebury back on the network.
118/119: Ceases to serve Grantchester except for school journeys. This would enable more journeys to run through to Gamlingay, not necessarily serving all villages on the existing route, and thence through to Biggleswade replacing existing Stagecoach 188. Advantages: much improved links to Cambridge from Gamlingay and East Beds, faster route from all villages.
Finally, we would like to make a plea for more comfortable seating at bus stops. Seats should also be able to be used (unless otherwise required) for the deposition of shopping and other luggage, so that passengers don't have to bend down to retrieve it. (This is a national problem, not confined to Cambridge.)
Here, in random order, are some bus changes in other parts of the country that are worthy of note:
324: Arriva have deregistered this route which provides the only regular link via the Dartford Crossing between Essex (Thurrock) and Kent. It is hoped that the two councils will support a replacement service.
X99: First Eastern Counties have withdrawn this through service between Ipswich and Lowestoft via Saxmundham, Halesworth ane Southwold. The middle section between Saxmundham and Halesworth is now served by an extension of Anglia Coaches 531/5. Unfortunately this is to the detriment of through travellers on the old route.
205/705: New London bus services replacing the Stationlink intended originally for disabled people but open to all. The 205 now offers a frequent service (every 10-12 minutes) along London's northern ring between Paddington and Whitechapel, serving all stops en route. The 705 does the southern ring, linking Paddington and Liverpool St every half hour via Victoria (including the coach station), Waterloo, and London Bridge.
86/386: The 86 provides an hourly service between Bury and Stowmarket, with the 386 providing additional journeys by a different route. No through buses to Ipswich outside the peak.
X17/505: Provide more frequent service between Kings Lynn and Spalding, with the X17 journeys missing out some intermediate villages. There is also a new evening service. Forms part of Lincs CC's "Interconnect 505" network.
601: Renumbered 1 and increased to provide a half hourly service between Grantham and Lincoln as part of Lincs CC's Interconnect network.
X40: Some early morning and late evening journeys are withdrawn. The remaining journeys continue to offer a 2 hourly service between Bury and Stansted Airport via Haverhill and Saffron Walden, and continue to miss out the important interchange at Wendens Ambo (Fighting Cocks), near Audley End station.
X59/60: New all-year weekday routes in Yorkshire Dales. The X59 links Harrogate and Skipton via the main A59 road every 2 hours, the 60 provides connections to/from Otley and Pateley Bridge, serving the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
X73: New operator provides a very irregular service between Nottingham and Tamworth with some journeys running through to Birmingham. Now serves East Midlands Airport.
Amos: This small operator, which provides three journeys a week to Sudbury from nearby Essex villages, will be retiring in December. It is not clear whether any replacement will be provided.
Buckby: This operator has withdrawn a well used route which provided the only direct link between Corby and Stamford every Friday (Stamford market day), because of retendering of the interworked route between Stamford and Stocken, which has been taken over by another operator.
Andover: A new partly demand responsive network called "Cango" was introduced in July, serving the villages around. Some opportunities for leisure use.
Finally, we should mention that National Express no longer sells period returns at the "economy" rate (equivalent to Supersavers as opposed to Savers) on the day of travel -- one has to book them in advance.
It's too late to use them this year, but here are some travel opportunities that were available this year that are worth looking out for next year. This is in addition to those we described in our last newsletter.
Pembrokeshire: This National Park had four coastal services running this year, the Puffin Shuttle (St Davids-Milford Haven, has run previously), the Celtic Coaster (a local service around St Davids, which had also run previously), the Poppit Rocket (Cardigan-Fishguard, new) and the Strumble Shuttle (Fishguard-St Davids, new). All ran daily till the end of September.
Shropsbire: In addition to the National Trust Shropshire Hills shuttles, and the Dudmaston Shuttle that also ran last year to link this National Trust property with the Severn Valley Railway, a new minibus link was provided in the Highley area to link with the SVR, the Highley Explorer. Like the Shropshire Hills shuttles (but not the Dudmaston Shuttle) it ran Saturdays as well as Sundays, like the Dudmaston Shuttle (but not the Shropshore Hills shuttles) it finished at the end of September.
Rutland: The boat on Rutland Water now serves a jetty on the south side of the reservoir, near to the museum at South Normanton church. The north side is accessible by Barton 2A (Stamford-Oakham, hourly) and the south side by Arriva 12 (Stamford-Uppingham, 2 hourly). Unfortunately there are no single fares. Bicycles can be taken on the boat (except when it is fully loaded): this is important as there are hire centres near both jetties.
Hadrian's Wall: This year a service was provided along the full length of the wall between Bowness and Wallsend, with a guide on board on some days.
Kielder: This bus continued to provide a Sunday and peak season Wednesday service from Newcastle to Kielder Water, the latter also being served on weekdays by the Postbus from Hexham and by some school buses. This area is worthy of note as the site of the last footpath to be reopened following the foot & mouth crisis (the reopening being this September).
North Pennines: A Sunday bus ran until the end of September from Newcastle to Weardale and Teesdale by an interesting route.
Spurn Head: East Riding Council provided a service called the Spurn Ranger, which linked Withernsea with Spurn Head on Sundays till the end of October. Connections to/from Hull.
474: This route between Bathgate and Linlithgow, in West Lothian, runs all year, but on summer Sundays it diverts via a scenic route to serve a country park.
Stansted Park: Nothing to do with Stansted Airport, this historic house near Rowlands Castle in Hampshire, but just over the Sussex border, was this year served by a bus service from Fareham and Havant on Wednesdays and Saturdays till mid September. Between these two towns the bus used the scenic route over Portsdown.
We restore this feature, especially as there is quite a long list this time. All these items are featured elsewhere in the newsletter.
1. Come to our AGM at 2.30 on 7 Dec.
2. Consider standing for the post of Membership Secretary (there isn't much you actually have to do). If you are willing to do this please let us know as soon as possible, especially if you can't come to the AGM.
3. Write to the County Council to demand the restoration of area timetables, the maintenance of bus subsidies, and, if Stagecoach withdraw the 35, that the Council join with Essex CC to support our suggested 112 route (see above).
4. Write to your local paper in support of Transport 2000's contention that speed cameras are a worthwhile investment to secure road safety and should not be restricted to known black spots.
5. Write to the Highways Agency (to reach them by 8 Nov) to object to the Thorney By-pass as a dual carriageway. When proposals to dual the A428 between Caxton and Cambridge are published, object to this too -- and let us know if you want to be alerted to when and how to lodge your objection.
6. Write to the Government (to reach them by 30 Nov) about the future of aviation.