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.
This is a plea for an ``equal rights'' movement for non-motorists. As a result of similar anti-discrimination movements, it is now not only enshrined in the law but accepted by the population at large that people have a right to be treated equally irrespective of their skin colour, or gender, or religion, or whether they have a disability. Yet it is still acceptable for governments -- both national and local -- to devote the lion's share of their transport resources to the problems of motorists; for employers to require employees to locate their offices at places only conveniently accessible by car, or to have a driving licence; for foodstores and other amenities, both essential and leisure-based, to ignore those who have difficulty getting to the locations they choose; and for facilities such as Eurotunnel and some cross-channel ferries to be totally barred to foot passengers.
If one wants to discuss a concept, it helps to have a name. The word ``sexism'' was coined to denote sex discrimination, on the analogy of racism for racial discrimination. So how about ``motorism'' for discrinination against those who don't have access to cars? Unfortunately we can't use ``motorist'' for someone who discriminates, because this already has a different meaning. ``Motorialist'', perhaps, on the analogy of ``racialist``? Anyone got any better ideas?
There are two reasons why the issue of motorism might not be taken seriously. We regard both as specious.
The first reason is that while people can't choose their skin colour or gender (barring a sex change operation) they can avoid motorism by acquiring a car. However, this option is not available to people who can't afford a car. Nor is it available to those who have medical reasons for not driving, such as poor sight. Indeed, could present transport policy can be challenged under the Disability Discrimination Act as discriminating against those whose sight disqualifies them from driving? Whatever the answer to this question, this argument cannnot be used to justify motorism. Furthermore, there is no doubt that people can change their religion, but this is generally accepted as something that people should not be expected to do. This secular age accepts that Jews should not be forced to become Christians to gain equal rights, so why can't we accept that environmentalists should not be forced to become motorists?
The second reason is that motorism is what might be called ``instrumental'', i.e. the fact that people don't have access to cars naturally restricts their access to facilities. However, this is equally true of disability discrimination: the fact that people can't walk just as naturally restricts their access to facilities. If there is a legal duty to provide for (say) wheelchair users, why not one to provide for public transport users? (Incidentally, another matter of major concern is that the Disability Discrimination Act may be inhibiting public transport development by inflating costs: even disabled people won't benefit from equality with other public transport users if both suffer from discrimination as compared with motorists!)
It would be tedious to go through all the types of motorism, so let us just consider ``the best idea since the Underground'' -- Transport 2000's comment on London's congestion charging scheme. Here are some arguments to show that even this does not fully redress the balance between motorist and non-motorist:
1. Motorists believe -- and the devisers of the scheme have partly accepted (for example in the discount offered to residents of the charging zone) -- that those who have to drive shouldn't be liable. Hands up those who would look sympathetically on an argument that people who have to use public transport shouldn't pay.
2. The charging zone only covers part of Central London. People would normally think of Hyde Park (the venue for the anti-war rally on 15 Feb) as being in the heart of London, but it is outside the charging zone. Out of the 58 tube stations inside Zone 1 -- a close approximation to what people normally think of as central -- only just over half (30) lie inside the charging zone. (However, early extension of the charging zone is under consideration and should redress the balance.)
3. It is easy for motorists travelling between points outside the zone to choose a route which enables them to avoid paying. Rail travellers cannot avoid Central London because there are hardly any orbital railways.
4. Electric cars are exempt from the charge. There is no discount for users of electric trains.
5. The Network Railcard changes mentioned in Newsletter 79 impose a surcharge of up to GBP 3-40 on people travelling throughout the Network South-East area after 10.00 on Mondays to Fridays, with no savings for evening travel or for journeys that go nowhere near Central London and use trains with plenty of spare capacity (such as Cambridge to Kings Lynn). Furthermore, compared with the coverage given to congestion charging by newspapers who have tried to stimulate opposition, publicity to the railcard changes has been almost nil.
6. If one considers the difference between peak and off-peak fares as a congestion charge on rail travellers, then this dwarfs the GBP 5 imposed on motorists. For example a peak day return from Cambridge to London costs GBP 25-50, as opposed to GBP 10-30 for an off-peak ticket purchased with a railcard. (The difference is even greater for people travelling beyond the London terminal for whom Travelcards provide the appropriate off-peak option.)
7. Every effort has been made to ensure that motorists can pay without having to queue -- the simplest option for most people is likely to be by text message. Yet non-motorists still have to waste time in ticket queues. Indeed the London Underground has a deliberate policy of not selling some types of ticket at its machines (e.g. Travelcards with a railcard discount).
This is not to argue against the congestion charge -- we fully agree with our parent organisation's description of it as the best idea since the Underground. What it does show is how much further we have to go to reach an equitable transport policy.
A recent manifestation of motorism is the Government decision to reduce rail spending by GBP 321m while the roads programme goes ahead full steam. The stated reason for this is the inability of the rail industry to control the costs of infrastructure projects, but the best way to deal with that is to re-integrate the rail industry, and to ask whether regulations ostensibly for safety reasons really achieve this goal.
Among organisations that have called for the restoration of funding are the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, the Public Transport Consortium (a selection of non-metropolitan local transport authorities in England and Wales), and Transport 2000 itself, all of which have highlighted the fact that the SRA seems to be concerned almost exclusively with inter-city rail.
In the East of England region, the only members of the Public Transport Consortium are Bedfordshire, Essex, and Luton. Others not too far away are Buckinghamshire, Kent, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey and Warwickshire. Why haven't Cambridgeshire or Peterborough joined the consortium?
Safety, incidentally, is another manifestation of motorism. Given that our annual death toll from traffic exceeds that from the Sept 11 attacks it would be appropriate to class cars as Weapons of Mass Destruction. Yet getting the traffic through always seems to take priority over safe streets for people. By comparison organisations responsible for safety disregard public convenience when they have even slight safety concerns, as shown by the aftermath of Hatfield and, more recently, the Central Line closure in London. This is sometimes referred to as ``safety fascism''. Meanwhile, the legitimate concerns due to rail privatisation and the Tube PPP are ignored...
We apologise for putting the wrong heading on our last newsletter (in printed form). It was, of course, Newsletter 81 dated November 2002.
Our annual report, as presented at our AGM on 7 Dec 2002 with agreed changes, is enclosed with this newsletter (to paid-up members, National Supporters, and some others). As well as an activities and financial report it includes a report by our Light Rail representative.
At our AGM we elected Alan Quick as Membership Secretary (see head of newsletter). Otherwise the most important items of business were discussions on our response to the Aviation White Paper and on the proposed guided busway. Both of these issues are discussed later.
Our website address has been changed and is now (as shown at the head of this newsletter) http://www.t2000cam.org.uk/. This page includes a pointer to the URL in use at the time.
If you have received a membership form with this newsletter, you still haven't paid your subscription for 2002-3. This will definitely be the last reminder. We have already removed from our mailing list those members who were transferred from Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk.
This section covers two key issues where we hope that members will be willing to act as suggested, and to ask other people to do so.
The London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study recently issued its final report. (More on this below.) We believe that many of its proposals show that it has not accepted the principle of fitting traffic to the environment -- for example the proposal to dual the whole of the A428/A421 corridor between Cambridge and the M1. Worse still, some of its proposals will cause considerable environmental damage, such as what amounts to a Luton Outer Ring Road and a Sandy by-pass.
However, it has come up with ``goodies'' for public transport users in the shape of proposals for direct rail links from Cambridge to Bedford and Oxford, and from Bedford to Northampton.
It recommended that the Cambridge to Bedford rail link should follow the road so as to minimise environmental disbenefit. Unfortunately the report wasn't published until the close of the public inquiry into the Great Barford By-pass (A421), so the Coordinator, who gave evidence at that inquiry, didn't notice this phrase in time to raise (more than perfunctorily) the issue of whether the road needs to be redesigned so that a railway can be added later at minimal total cost. We regard the Government's willingness to do this as a ``litmus test'' of its commitment to improving public transport.
The Highways Agency appears to accept that the case for the rail link has been made (because it quotes the report of the Multi-Modal Study as rebutting our argument that a dual carriageway by-pass would undermine the case for the railway), and that it has a duty to design its schemes to avoid waste (which it claims would result from our proposal for a single carriageway by-pass which, it says, would have to be dualled later). So it is surely inconsistent for it to pursue a scheme to build the road in such a way that the bridges could not accommodate a future rail link. We believe that it is because we have exposed such an inconsistency that they have refused to answer our question on whether the design for the road can accommodate a railway; and, if not, how much extra it would cost to do so and how much would be saved thereby when the railway is built.
We believe that the public need to know this information if they are to judge the efficacy of the Government's transport policy. We are therefore calling on our members (see Action Line at the end of this newsletter) to write to the Secretary of State calling for the public inquiry to be reopened. Here is a model letter -- but please use your own words, and, because we want to show that the issue is of more than parochial importance, don't claim to be writing on behalf of Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk. Also please try to get other transport campaigners to write their own letters.
To: Rt Hon Alastair Darling MP, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DR
Cc: Your own MP, MEPs, county or district councillors, etc.
We are writing to ask that, in the light of the report of the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study, the public inquiry into the A421 Great Barford By-pass should be reopened.
One of the recommendations of the MMS was a rail link between Bedford and Cambridge roughly following the A421 and A428. It is therefore important to ensure that the road is designed in such a way that a railway can be added later at minimal total cost.
The MMS report was launched on Tue 4 Feb, by which time the public inquiry had almost ended. Therefore objectors were not given sufficient opportunity to study the report and put the relevant questions to the inquiry.
The Highways Agency should be required to prepare amended proposals for the road with the above aim. These should either replace the current proposals or stand alongside them. Objectors should also be offered the opportunity to modify their proposals. Then, after the case for and against the various options has been put at a reopened public inquiry, the Inspector and Secretary of State will be able to decide between them.
We believe that a reopened public inquiry is the appropriate mechanism at the present moment, because, if the current proposals go ahead, the public needs to know that the option of facilitating a future rail link was fully considered and why it was rejected; while, if the proposals are amended as proposed here, a further inquiry will be needed anyway.
We regard the issue as being of regional and indeed national importance because it goes to the heart of the credibility of the Government's transport policy and in particular its commitment to improved public transport.
You may wish to refer to some extracts from the Highways Agency's evidence at the inquiry.
1. The aim of the Government's policy is to improve trunk roads ``to complement improvements to inter-urban travel by public transport in a way which supports policy on sustainable development'' (from the Highways Agency statement of case). This implies a duty on the Highways Agency to facilitate appropriate public transport improvements.
2. That building a single carriageway by-pass (Alternative J at the inquiry) and dualling later could be challenged as a waste of money (from the rebuttal to Alternative J). Similarly, building a road in such a way as not to facilitate later addition of a railway is a waste of money.
3. That the Multi-Modal Study have proposed both a dual carriageway by-pass and a railway (ibid., countering the objection that a dual carriageway would undermine the economic case for the railway). The fact that this is considered to rebut this objection seems to imply that the Highways Agency accepts that the Multi-Modal Study has made the case for a rail link.
In view of these three statements, we believe that it would be inconsistent for the Highways Agency to go ahead with its current plans.
Incidentally, this campaign does not mean that for the section between Bedford and St Neots we will not continue to object to any development plans, such as the proposed rowing lake near Willington, which will obstruct the old route between Bedford and Sandy. We believe that it is important to keep both options open until one of the two routes has been definitely approved.
We now turn to the A428 between Cambridge and Caxton Gibbet, for which dualling proposals have just been published. Here too we plan to object to the scheme because it has (presumably) not been designed so that a future rail link can be added at minimal total cost (as well as because it will overload the Madingley Road corridor into Cambridge). A railway from Cambridge could plausibly join the A428 anywhere west of Hardwick village (see next section).
The Highways Agency are hosting exhibitions on the scheme at Dry Drayton Village Hall (Fri 7 March 13.00-20.00) and Bourn Village Hall (Sat 8 March 10.00-16.00). These venues are not very accessible by public transport, but, if you can (and receive this newsletter in time), please try to get along to one of them to ask about compatibility with the railway, also the effect on Madingley Road and other likely congestion hotspots.
Whether or not you visit the exhibition, , lease send a formal objection on the above two grounds to the Highways Agency Operations Directorate, Heron House, 49-53 Goldington Road, Bedford MK40 3LL or email <email@example.com>. See next two paragraphs for more background information. The closing date for objections is 31 March.
The effect of the scheme will be exacerbated by the proposals for a Papworth By-pass, which together with the A428 will essentially provide an ``overspill A14'' between Huntingdon and Cambridge. For this reason we would like to see the Papworth by-pass proposals modified in favour of bollards at Papworth and a new road layout at Elitsley. We also believe that two other measures will be needed to relive Madingley Road if the dualling proposals go ahead and should be demanded as mitigatory measures: new slip roads linking the A428 and M11 at the Girton interchange, together with traffic management measures to ensure that traffic uses this route rather than Madingley Road; and closure of the existing park & ride site at Madingley Road in favour of a new site further out, perhaps at the Madingley roundabout (A428/A1303).
However, the real solution to the problem of accommodating Cambourne traffic in the Cambridge area is to develop a rapid transit scheme. Here is a possible strategy -- comments welcome, preferably in time to influence our objection.
1. Build road along proposed alignment, but terminate dualling at Bourn Turn (from west). There motorists would be encouraged to transfer to park & ride buses to the City Centre (continuing to rail station and Addenbrookes) and to the Northern Fringe.
2. Bollards at various points on the ``old road'' would prevent it being congested by through traffic. Buses and bikes would of course be able to get through. The park & ride site could also be served by a guided busway between Cambourne and Cambridge, possibly via Bar Hill.
3. To reduce traffic on Madingley Road, close the existing Park & Ride site. Any site on this corridor must be west of the Madingley roundabout. Also, there should be new slip roads between A428 and M11 so through traffic doesn't have to use Madingley Road.
At our AGM the Secretary presented a convincing argument to show that the planned new town at Longstanton will have transport needs (e.g. for schoolchildren) which can only practically be met within the relevant timescale by a busway. It was therefore agreed that we should support the idea of a minimal cost busway which could later be converted back to a railway (for example, the rails could stay, though they would probably have to be renewed anyway). However, our longer term aspirations remain for a railway running westwards from Cambridge and an independent guided busway.
The Cambridge-Bedford line referred to in the previous section may reduce the long term need to reopen the St Ives line. A possible route for the Cambridgeshire section would be to follow the old line between Chesterton Junction and Histon, then either swing round to the A428 near Hardwick or run close to Bar Hill to meet the A428 further to the west, then alongside it, past Cambourne, to near St Neots, then swinging round to the East Coast Main Line. Possible stations would include three on the northern fringe (Milton Road, Cambridge Regional College, and Histon), one on the Girton to Oakington road which would serve the new town at Longstanton, then either Hardwick or Bar Hill and Cambourne. A triangular junction at St Neots would enable some trains to run through to Huntingdon and Peterborough. Thus two of the main functions of the St Ives line (to cater for the new town and to provide a rail link between Cambridge and Huntingdon) would be covered. Of course, this would not serve St Ives -- but the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study decided that a route serving the town centre wasn't feasible. (This may be disputed, but it must still reduce the credibility of any scheme for a line based on the old route through St Ives.)
As for the guided busway, our preferred option would follow the A14 all the way between Huntingdon and Histon. It would use part of the existing A14 on the section between Huntingdon and Fen Drayton, where CHUMMS plans to build a new road, while between Fen Drayton and Girton it would be built together with the planned parallel local road. Near Bar Hill there would be branches to Longstanton and Cambourne -- the latter offering an alternative to dualling the A428 -- and near Fenstanton there would be a branch to St Ives. Between Histon and a new Chesterton Parkway station on the main line it would run through the Northern Fringe giving access to Cambridge Regional College, the Science and Business Parks.
In the longer term we would like to see a rapid transit route through Cambridge's North-west Corridor (which the University have their eye on for development -- we would oppose any such development without a rapid transit route) to Madingley Road. We would like to see a feasibility study into whether it would be possible to link Madingley Road with Bradwells Court by a tunnel under the City Centre, which would bring much needed capacity for buses. Use of this tunnel would be restricted to zero emission buses (which we hope will be commonplace by the time the scheme could be taken forward) to avoid the need for extensive ventilation. The scheme could be financed by the proceeds of road user charges.
On which subject -- Cambridgeshire County Council recently announced that it had ruled out the only road user charging option it had been considering (a workplace parking tax). At the Structure Plan Examination we felt there was widespread support for the view that there was no alternative to road user charging if gridlock is to be avoided. The CHUMMS report suggested that road user charges were the only way to avoid a 30% increase in traffic in the city, and the London to South Midlands MMS has also suggested that road user charging would bring significant benefits. We therefore intend to continue campaigning; our preferred option is a parking tax levied throughout the Cambridge area -- not just in the city, which we fear would lead to employers relocating to places with poorer public transport and cycle access.
The London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study has come up with a package of 88 recommendations. Here are some highlights. Except for the road based recommendations (22-71), for which we have starred the ones of concern, we quote the entire text and append our comments in brackets at the end.
6. The SRA should pursue the eastern section of east-west rail on the most direct alignment possible between Bedford and Cambridge, and in the same corridor as an improved A421/A428 to minimise environmental disbenefits. (The Highways Agency, when they quoted this in the Great Barford By-pass inquiry, replaced ``disbenefits'' by ``benefits''!)
7. The SRA should initiate a study of rail accessibility to Stansted Airport, including connections from the WCML, MML and ECML without travelling through London, given the possible future role of Stansted as an airport of national importance. Even in the short term, the role of Stansted as a transport hub facilitating interchange between car, rail and bus should be marketed and strengthened. (This would provide a chance to promote the second east-west rail link -- Stansted, Harlow, Ware, Stevenage, Hitchin, Flitwick, Ridgmont and MK, or the alternative from Hitchin via Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard.)
10. The Bedford-Northampton route should be reopened as an extension of Thameslink services to Birmingham. This would facilitate many new strategic journeys which are currently difficult by rail. (It would surely be more relevant to run services through to/from East Anglia via Cambridge, while Thameslink trains could use what might eventually become part of the second east-west rail link suggested above, between Flitwick and MK or Luton and Leighton Buzzard.)
17. All fast services between London and Cambridge or Stansted Airport should be rerouted via Stratford. This will provide capacity required in the London area, and enable passengers to benefit from the numerous interchange opportunities available at Stratford. (Would this depend on Crossrail to provide extra capacity between Liverpool St and Stratford -- with the potential for further benefits by running Stansted trains, in particular, through London?)
18. A second tunnel to Stansted Airport should be provided. Additional capacity should also be provided between tottenham Hale and Bishops Stortford to enable additional trains to be operated. (The London to Ipswich MMS -- see below -- suggested a link from Harlow/Sawbridgeworth to Stansted Airport, which might provide a way of enhancing capacity to the airport without the expense of a new tunnel.)
19. The potential for a new parkway station in the Cambridge area should be investigated in more detail.
20. SRA should ensure commitment to the Reference Case scheme to provide the track capacity between Felixstowe and Nuneaton that is required to divert freight trains away from London. (Does this cover gauge and/or capacity enhancement? We believe both are needed.)
21. Any proposals for east-west rail should acknowledge the need for freight capacity.
25-26. Widen M1 to dual 4 lane between J6a-13 (*).
27-29. New Dunstable Northern By-pass linking with a new M1 J11a. Possible closure of J12 to general traffic.
35. The A1/A1(M) is not considered to be of national importance.
38. A Sandy by-pass is recommended for environmental reasons (but it would traverse high quality countryside *).
39. Upgrade A1 Brampton-Alconbury to dual 3 lane (we would not oppose this as part of the CHUMMS proposal to divert A14).
40-42. Upgrade M11 to dual 3 lane throughout with bridges allowing for further widening (*).
43. Bus priorities for Stansted Airport.
44-46. A421/A428 dual 2 lane throughout (*). The alignment should allow for a parallel double track railway. (The report actually refers to the route between the M1 and M11, but the A428 doesn't actually meet the M11 -- as indicated earlier we would support slip roads between the two routes avoiding the A1303.)
47,49. Widen A14 to dual 3 lane between M1/M6 and A11 (presumably this means the eastern end of the section where the A11 follows the A14) (*).
56,60. Improve A421 between M1 and Milton Keynes (*) but no case for Milton Keynes southern by-pass.
57-58. Luton Northern By-pass (very environmentally damaging *).
59. Bus/rail coordination, especially at Bedford and Cambridge.
65. Keep in review the case for restoring a passenger rail link to Corby.
67,69-71. A414, A5 and A505 have no strategic functions for long distance traffic, and new east-west road links across the region should be resisted as long as possible. (There is a danger that the A414 may become an overspill M25. A new strategic road link may not be resistible if Stansted (or Luton) airports expand massively.)
68. Dual A45 between Stanwick and Thrapston (*).
72. Road user charging in principle should be adopted by Government as a mechanism which can deliver considerable benefit in its own right and which can either complement or facilitate other necessary transport interventions.
87. The price of any transport mode to the end user should reflect the external costs of travel. This would require a progressive increase in the cost of private travel by car until such time as road user charging was adopted and became the mechanism for internalising external costs.
Here are the main recommendations of the London to Ipswich (LOIS) Multi-Modal Study:
Rail: several of the proposals would amalgamate to provide a new link between Stansted Airport and Kent via Sawbridgeworth, Ongar, Shenfield, Wickford and Benfleet. Also Epping-Chelmsford (would this be viable?), Stansted-Colchester, Crossrail Regional Express services, and high quality bus and coach links.
Road: Upgrade A12 to dual 3 lane as far as Ipswich, A120 to dual 2 lane east of M11, sections of M11 to dual 4 lane, A414 to dual 2 lane between M11 and Chelmsford, and new Chelmsford NE by-pass linking to dualled A131 to Braintree. As far as we know none of these would be especially damaging but all would be of concern because they do not grasp the nettle of traffic reduction.
A legal challenge has forced the Government to restart the consultation procrss. Its rejection of expansion of Gatwick, because of a legal agreement banning new runways before 2019, was found to be inappropriate given that the consultation document looks well beyond that year. (Despite rumours to the contrary, the Government has not included the option of an off-shore airport in the Thames estuary, which is being promoted by a commercial company and has support from some environmental groups.)
So we will all have another chance to have our say. The closing date for the new consultation has been announced as 30 June 2003. See Newsletter 81 for ideas of what to say, but we are asking you what you think about two particular issues that shaped our response but which were found at our AGM to be controversial. Please let us know as soon as possible whether you support the stance taken in our initial response or whether you want us to change it.
1. Should we go for lots of small airports or a few large ones? We chose the second option, and this was our prime reason for rejecting Alconbury, so if you want to choose the first option but don't want an airport at Alconbury please come up with some other cogent reason to oppose it. Note that the second option is not intended to mean concentrating aviation on London to the exclusion of regional airports; what it does mean is that passenger services should not be developed at ``small'' airports such as Alconbury.
For concentration: would make it easier to provide high quality public transport access and to control airport growth. Increases likelihood of a direct flight to intended destination (so reducing need for short haul feeder flights). Also bringing airports closer to people encourages them to fly more often.
For dispersal: reduces distances people have to drive.
2. Should airport growth be directed away from areas of labour shortage, and, if so, should we use planning or market mechanisms, or both? To the first we said ``yes'', to the second we said ``planning mechanisms'', but only because the idea of market mechanisms didn't surface till the AGM, so we are now intending to include market mechanisms too. We believe that the labour shortage argument is the most cogent reason for opposing growth at Stansted, so, again, anyone who says ``no'' to the first question should look for other arguments to recommend if they want to oppose expanding Stansted to the size of Heathrow or larger.
Against direction: will increase distance people have to drive, and in any case there's no need because airports will be cheaper to operate at locations with good labour availability.
For direction: Airports and airlines can outbid other employers and thus exacerbate labour shortages for essential services. Furthermore the perceived need for labout can help developers push through sprawling development that is both unsustainable and damaging to the countryside.
Please send the Coordinator your views as soon as possible -- whether by post or email (details on page 1).
The new spur roads linking Stansted Airport with the M11 towards London have now opened. The BAA has been required to finance spurs towards Cambridge as a condition of approval for its proposal to expand from 15 to 25 million passengers per year. (Note: this proposal is independent of proposals for new runways at Stansted.)
The Government has decided that the M11 corridor between Cambridge and London will be a major growth area, and plans massive housing expansion. We fear that this will result in virtually continuous urban sprawl, whatever lip service the Government may pay towards sustainability. Would it be a good idea to go for a city-sized settlement at Haverhill -- probably the least environmentally damaging option -- with state of the art techniques to limit traffic and rail links to Cambridge, Sudbury, Stansted Airport, and Audley End/Saffron Walden? We understand that a consultancy is looking for support for a study into the potential for a large new completely car-free community -- Haverhill could be a possible site for this.
Did you get caught in the blizzard of 30-31 Jan? One of the traditional arguments for maintaining rail links is that they are less vulnerable to adverse weather. In recent years experience has generally been the other way round, but here rail was, well not exactly triumphant, as trains were heavily delayed, but at least able to shift the traffic on offer, which the roads weren't.
The cause of the disruption seems to have been the sheer volume of vehicles carrying people leaving work early to beat the weather got in the way of gritters. How many of these would have driven to work rather than using the bus because they felt more in control that way? We suggest that when snow is expected every effort should be made to discourage people from driving to work, to the extent of giving priority to rescuing non-motorists who are stranded when buses can't get through. It is certainly ridiculous (and yet another example of the ``safety fascism'' of our headline article) that -- as reported by one of our members -- bus drivers were refusing to pick passengers up because their permitted hours were exhausted. Are bus passengers safer being left to freeze (or be hit by swerving cars) at the roadside, or travelling in taxis whose drivers may be just as exhausted, or begging lifts from strangers?
In general we support the Government's plan to increase the duties of local authorities to keep roads clear (and preferably pavements and cycle routes too!), but this should not be at the expense of efforts to hold traffic down to more manageable levels.
We have continued to be involved in several consultations.
Wisbech transport strategy: We have pushed the need to improve bus links to railheads and elsewhere, and to restore passenger (and possibly freight) trains to the town. We have also mentioned the Inland Waterways Association plan for a canal which would allow ships of 2-3000 tonnes to reach Peterborough and possibly Corby.
Huntingdon transport strategy: Again, we have pushed the need for better bus links, as described elsewhere in this newsletter. We have also mentioned the need for rail links to Cambridge and the North, and the advantages of using the A14 rather than the old railway line as a guided busway. We would like to see the road from Godmanchester closed to traffic other than bikes and buses in due course.
Bradwells Court, Cambridge: The proposals produced by the consultants would move pedestrian access to Christs Lane (now blocked off), and bus information to a new kiosk on the Christs Pieces side. We are concerned that the new route will be exposed to rain, and hope that the new information kiosk will be large enough to avoid the problems of the existing information office. Better still if the County Council (who included the kiosk in their specification) would use it to provide impartial information covering all operators and services.
Station Road, Cambridge: We support a multi-modal interchange at the railway station. Any development -- residential as well as commercial -- should be severely restricted in the amount of parking it can offer. We believe that the area is well suited to offices for the various levels of government -- local (better than the Cambourne site planned for South Cambridgeshire District Council!), regional and national. Station parking should be mainly at the back, shared with the planned leisure centre -- unfortunately the bridge which was originally planned to link the two has been moved to a location where it can no longer do so effectively.
Silver St, Cambridge: We support the County Council's proposed restrictions on traffic on this street, part of which is too narrow to be shared with pedestrians. We would like to see this road made one-way (except for cycles) at all times (so that any vehicles which are allowed to traverse bollards have to do so in a prescribed direction). We are concerned about the proposal to relocate the coach drop-off to Queens Road -- it's further for visitors to walk (and some may have difficulty in walking -- after all motorists are allowed all the way to Lion Yard) and there may be safety problems if passengers have to get out of the coach on the ``traffic'' side (remember that Cambridge is visited by coaches from Continental Europe which have left hand drive).
Cambridge North and West Corridors: This is intended to discuss what planning gain councils should seek from developers. Our response is based on our proposals for the guided busway (see above) and for buses in the area (this and the last two newsletters).
A few small items.
A route has been chosen for the Bedford & Milton Keynes Canal. The route will link the Great Ouse west of Bedford with the Grand Union Canal near Central Milton Keynes. This is one of the most expensive options, and is likely to include a major engineering feature in Brogborough, such as a ``wheel'' like the new one at Falkirk.
Two sea crossings convenient for rail passengers are being withdrawn. Dover-Ostend has already gone and Stranraer-Belfast will be relocated to Cairnryan which is not served by rail nor by the A75 corridor bus service.
The ban on foot passengers on overnight crossings between Harwich and Hook of Holland appears to have been lifted, but as cabin reservations are compulsory these do not offer the budget facilities required by those wishing to make long day trips.
The River Crouch ferry has been withdrawn, at least for this year. We have often complained about the lack of bus connections at Wallasea Island.
The ``east side'' Hungerford Bridge is now open with a footway link through to Charing Cross station, as used to be the case. However the pedestrian link between the South Bank and Waterloo is worse than ever.
It is believed that the boardwalk which allows walkers on the Limehouse Cut to continue under the A12 is now officially open. This is part of the London Cycle Network. This may be used to visit nearby historic House Mill (open selected weekends except winter); Cambridge people can alight from National Express coaches at Stratford, Bow Church or Mile End. Note that to the north, if walking along the River Lea, one still has to cross the A11 at street level, though one doesn't have to negotiate through traffic which will be using the Bow flyover.
Here is a run-down of changes to bus services since the last newsletter. Peterborough City Council has published a new timetable book. It is considerably easier to find the route one wants than in the old book, but it is still not completely comprehensive (e.g. it doesn't show services which don't offer local facilities within Peterborough district) and its section on fares doesn't provide availability details for Explorers and Sunday Rovers.
C1-4: This is the reference given by the County Council to a series of weekly bus services in the remoter parts of the county. C1 links Babraham to Sawston on Thursdays; C2 links Hatley, Croydon, Arrington, Longstowe and Caxton to St Neots on Thursdays; C3 links Isleham, Chippenham and Snailwell to Newmarket on Saturdays; and C4 links the same villages (in reverse order) to Prickwillow and Ely on Saturdays. In each case the County Council website stipulates that tickets have to be booked in advance at a location at the ``village'' end, so they can't be considered as genuine public transport.
1-10: These are the numbers of the new Peterborough daytime city network. Routes 1-5 and 9-10 run every 20 minutes, routes 6-8 run half hourly. There are also hourly extensions of route 5 (Westwood-Hampton) to Sawtry (via Yaxley, going all the way round the village) replacing the 48 (but not serving Folksworth), and to Orton. However, these extensions have no peak-time service, which has aroused complaints by staff at the Serpentine Shopping Centre in Hampton who live in Orton: ironically the Orton-Hampton link does have an evening and Sunday service on route 25 (see below).
C2,C4: These routes in the Cambridge City network are modified so that the C2 misses out the Grafton Centre and the C4 the Science Park, though the ``old'' timetables are still being circulated. The C4 is of concern to us as it perpetuates the Science Park as a place one can only get to by car -- hence the peak-time jams around the A10/A14 junction. As is implicit from our last newsletter, we believe that the C4 should be made into a circular route via Histon Road. The Science Park could also be served by the network of buses, currently non-public, which carry students to/from the nearby Cambridge Regional College; or by National Express's Shuttle and Jetlink coaches given that their depot is in the area.
PB4/PB9 (St Neots Postbus): Support for this route has been withdrawn in favour of a network of community minibuses in West Hunts operated from Thrapston. The route is still operating at the moment but may be withdrawn soon. The community minibuses are not public services as one has to join a club and pay a membership fee to use them.
X6: The Peterborough-Cambridge journeys now run also on Saturdays.
12A: Stagecoach has withdrawn from the Fengate corridor (route 12) out of Peterborough. Kime are running a supported service (route 12A) with off-peak frequency every 75 minutes.
21-26: The new Peterborough evening and Sunday betwork.
35: Stagecoach seem to have deferred or abandoned their plan to withdraw this route (see Newsletter 81), which would have affected Little Shelford particularly badly.
37: More buses between Peterborough and Spalding.
38: New route called New Eye Flier replacing Peterborough Taxibus (and using the same vehicle). Irregular service 7 days a week between Peterborough, Eye, and Newborough, with some extensions on a demand responsive basis to Crowland. There are evening buses to the Showcase Cinema. Opens up opportunities for walks linking the footpath at Grange Farm (grid reference 296085), Nene Terrace, and some communities in Lincolnshire; also the south bank of the Welland Washes which are not a right of way but which are believed to be available for public use.
38/46: New routes between March and Wisbech replacing 68 at higher frequency. The 46 is an extension of the Kings Lynn route while the 38 serves Benwick.
X46: Daytime southbound buses are retarded by 5 minutes. This will reduce the reliability of connections into route 130 (for Cambridge) at St Neots. Some journeys are diverted via Folksworth, and a connection off the relevant southbound bus at St Neots is now impossible. Evening buses are retimed with more journeys to Huntingdon. This is particularly useful for holders of Explorer tickets (valid on Huntingdon & District buses) who wish to return to Cambridge.
The retimed 17.40 just misses a connection at Huntingdon bus station, but it should be possible to connect into the 554 by alighting at Brookside on the ring road and walking back and turning right into Ambury Road. The retiming of the 18.15 to 18.35 means 20 minutes less to wait, and there is a new 20.15 to Huntingdon, which, however, involves a long wait there for a Cambridge bus.
47: Peterborough-Etton peaks, replacing 7B and 13B. The afternoon school-time journey (formerly 13B) now runs schooldays only and is diverted to the former 7B route.
60 (Aardvark Coaches): The Sunday service linking Peterborough with Flag Fen and Ferry Meadows is withdrawn for the winter. It will start again on 16 April, running on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays till 2 November.
60 (Norfolk Green): More buses between Wisbech and Three Holes, but still no link to a railhead.
113: Extra peak-time buses between Haverhill and Cambridge.
151-9: Significant changes to evening buses on the A14 corridor west of Cambridge.
313: Thornhaugh loses its Thursday bus and will lose its Tuesday bus after 1 April. However there is a new Saturday service.
352/3: We have been told that Cambs CC will be removing support from this service in April. Our main concern is the 352 as there are few other services for Holme or Conington village.
717/757: In the summer timetable (from 7 April) National Express Jetlink 717 will extend to Cambridge in lieu of the 757 to Oxford, thus restoring an hourly link to Gatwick but at the expense of the link to the Chilterns.
727: From the same date this route will extend to the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
Stansted-Colchester: From 30 March this coach link will be amended to do a loop in Colchester from the main rail station (Colchester North) to the University, Bus Station and back to the rail station. Also some journeys, mainly in the peaks, will omit both Braintree stops (main station and Freeport) though their timings at the other stops remain the same. Buses leave Stansted Airport on the hour and return at 43 minutes past the hour. See next section for useful ticketing information relating to this route.
There have also been changes to the following: 16 (Cambridge-Haverhill), 17 (Cambridge-Newmarket), 36 (Peterborough-Thorney-Wisbech), 42/43/43A (Oundle Road corridor services in Peterborough), 63 (Kings Lynn-Wisbech), 66 (Wisbech town), 178 (Bedford-Gamlingay), 188 (Biggleswade-Gamlingay), 333 (linking Ramsey, Chatteris, March and Manea). As far as we know all these changes are minor -- if you think otherwise please let us know!
A few small items.
National Traveline: Regional journey planners now exist for the South-East and East Midlands. We plan to provide direct links from our own website: meanwhile, go to Traveline East Anglia and click on ``other regions'', or go to the national site <http://www.traveline.org.uk>. Note that the regions do not correspond to the official UK regions: East Anglia contains Cambridgeshire (but not Peterborough), Norfolk and Suffolk; the East Midlands includes Peterborough; and the South-East appears to include Hertfordshire, Essex and Bedfordshire.
National Express: The over 50s can travel anywhere on the National Express network (including on connecting services) for GBP 10, until early April, except on Fridays and Sundays. National Express has confirmed to us that the ``5 Multirides'' offer in their Cambridge-London Shuttle leaflet is restricted to tickets bought after the start of the winter timetable last year.
X94: Stagecoach in Peterborough have announced that their Explorers are valid on this route (Peterborough-Lowestoft) operated by First. We don't know whether this also applies to other Stagecoach Explorers or other First routes, or whether there are reciprocal benefits for First Ranger ticket holders.
Stansted-Colchester: While this rail link bus is a lot more expensive than conventional buses, through tickets are available for journeys such as Cambridge to Harwich and full railcard discounts appear to be available, thus making prices competitive with the route via Ipswich. Indeed, from Cambridge, tickets to places like Manningtree, Harwich and Clacton are cheaper than those to Colchester even though Colchester is an interchange point for the relevant journey! Manningtree is the best buy, tickets are available from the newest machines at Cambridge and remember to press the button (or ask) for a ticket valid via the Stansted to Colchester link. It is ironic that there are through fares via this route because it isn't shown in the national rail timetable, unlike routes such as Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford on which through tickets are not normally valid (except for journeys for which the bus acts as a feeder).
Essex: Lodge's twice weekly service from Good Easter to Chelmsford has been expanded into a service 6 days a week starting at Great Dunmow. Another new route is the 344 (Tuesdays and Fridays) between Witham and Chelmsford via a number of villages. No replacement has been provided for the former Amos buses (see Newletter 81). The cuts to the X40 (Bury-Stansted Airport) reported in Newsletter 81 did not take place.
Thames Crossing: With the departure of a peak-time only route run by a small operator, the only bus left using the Dartford Crossing is the twice monthly 711 (1st and 3rd Sats, Romford St Edwards Way depart 16.00). It is of little consolation that one can now get to Lakeside with a Travelcard by using route 372 (half hourly weekdays, hourly Sundays) from Elm Park or Rainham. Bluewater is still accessible by Travelcard using routes 96, 428 and 492 from Crayford.
Midlands: The skeleton service on route X73 between Tamworth and Nottingham -- yet another of those corridors which attract vast amounts of car traffic but which are completely ignored by public transport operators -- will be withdrawn from 25 March.
Lincolnshire Marshes: The Interconnect 505 network can be used to access walks (6 days a week) on the whole coastline between West Lynn and Fosdyke Bridge. Ring 0845 243 3344 to request a connection from the Kings Lynn to Spalding bus to your starting point in Lincolnshire.
Shropshire: The Shropshire Hills Shuttles will be restarting on 12 April, running Saturdays and Sundays. The Long Mynd and Stiperstones Shuttles will be combined at higher frequency, there will be minor route changes to the Wenlock and Secret Hills Shuttles, and a new Clun Forest Shuttle from Bishops Castle.
Cheshire: Last year's Sandstone Rambler between Whitchurch (Shropshire) and Frodsham will run again this year for a longer season. There are 4 journeys each way on Saturdays and Sundays from Easter. It is also hoped to run a companion Gritstone Rambler on the other side of the county between Kidsgrove (Staffordshire) and Disley.
Pembrokeshire: Again, last year's coastal buses will be running longer, in fact every day from 12 April to 28 Sept. Timetables for three of the routes (not the Poppit Rocket between Cardigan and Fishguard) are shown on the Countrygoer website which has a link from ours.
Hampshire: New 2 monthly or monthly bus routes serving Farmers Markets at Petersfield (first Sunday of even months) and Winchester (last Sunday of each month). Offer access to local countryside. Timetables are on the Hampshire County Council website.
This continues our series of proposals in the last two newsletters for an integrated bus network for various parts of Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough). It also provides more detailed proposals for the Granta Valley, in conjunction with the now approved Genome Campus expansion at Hinxton, than were given in Newsletter 80. Note that connections would be available at the Genome Campus with long distance coaches to many destinations, and that these replace existing routes 31-35 and the Imperial War Museum free bus. These proposals are given in numerical order. The proposals for route 31, 112, 118 amd 119 in Newsletter 81 are superseded.
2: Reroute this Peterborough City service the other way round the Bretton loop to provide a more direct link between the City Centre and Edith Cavell Hospital.
5: Extend the new 20 minute Peterborough City route between Westwood and Hampton as follows:
(a) Yaxley village, Holme, Conington, Sawtry.
(b) Fletton Parkway, Orton Goldhay and Southgate, Stilton, Folksworth, Lutton, Polebrook and Oundle, possibly interworking with the 42.
(c) Fletton Parkway, Orton Malborne, Shrewsbury Avenue, South Bretton, Bretton Centre, Edith Cavell Hospital, Westwood and St Paul's Road, providing an orbital route with many connections.
X5: Start at Cambridge rail station and divert via St Neots station roundabout, with the Tesco stop moved to Ernulf School where it would connect with the X46 (qv). We would also like to see the western part of the route diverted via Old Stratford, Buckingham town centre, Stowe crossroads, Westbury, Brackley, and Ardley Coachway (a new interchange at the service station at M40 J10), at least when the Oxford to Bletchley line is reopened to passenger trains, but it would be going too far afield to cover the complementary service changes in the Bicester area.
X6: Restore the Air Express by a different route, running hourly between Stansted and Peterborough via Genome Campus, Sawston, Addenbrookes, Cambridge station, city centre, Madingley Road, Cambourne, Papworth Hospital, Wood Green Animal Shelter, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, the Stukeleys, Alconbury, Sawtry, Serpentine Shopping Centre.
12A: Increase to hourly and divert via old entrance to Flag Fen Museum, to which the driver could sell admission tickets.
A14 Express: New route running hourly Haverhill-Rugby via Cambridge, Huntingdon, Thrapston and Kettering, serving all relevant rail stations and with access from villages close to line of route.
24: Divert this Peterborough evening and Sunday service to serve part of Fengate and provide a pedestrian link to the Showcase Cinema. To allow time for this the Welland loop could be traversed in one direction only. On Saturdays, when the 12A doesn't run, the daytime service on route 10 would be similarly diverted.
X30: Extend to Northampton omitting existing detours to Papworth and Eynesbury, complementing existing X2 Bedford-Northampton via Olney. The X2, X5 and X30 should offer a half hourly service between Cambridge and Birmingham in conjunction with trains west of Northampton.
31: Hourly Cambridge-Genome Campus via Foxton, Fowlmere, Thriplow, Imperial War Museum, A505 (Whittlesford station), and A1301.
32: Divert existing Cambridge-Saffron Walden route via Addenbrookes.
33: Every 20 minutes Cambridge-Genome Campus via Trumpington, Gt Shelford, Mingle Lane, Sawston estates, Pampisford and Hinxton village. Not all journeys need serve all the detours. Buses return to Cambridge as 31, 34 or 35.
34: Hourly Cambridge-Genome Campus via M11 to Imperial War Museum then as 31.
35: Hourly Cambridge-Genome Campus via Addenbrookes, the Shelfords, Newton, Whittlesford village, Duxford, Ickleton and Hinxton.
43: Extend to run 2 hourly Royston-Genome Campus via Barley, Gt Chishill, Heydon, Chrishall, Elmdon, Ickleton and Hinxton.
X46 (Stagecoach in Cambridge): Extend existing Cambridge-Guilden Morden route to Wrestlingworth connecting with East Beds Link.
X46 (Stagecoach in Peterborough): Divert south of St Neots via Eynesbury (connects X5), Tesco, Little Barford, Tempsford, Blunham and Mogerhanger to Bedford; also north of Sawtry via Conington and Holme. Minor route changes to coincide with our proposed A1 access improvements at Southoe and Buckden.
112: Hourly Cambridge-Saffron Walden via Hauxton, Little Shelford, Whittlesford (direct), Duxford, Ickleton, Gt Chesterford and Littlebury.
118: Divert to Cambourne, running hourly from Cambridge via Comberton and Bourn. Only school journeys would serve Grantchester (see C6, Newsletter 81).
119: Recast to run 2 hourly Cambridge-Croydon via Hardwick, Highfields, Kingston, Eversden, Orwell and Arrington. Journeys extend to Gamlingay or to Guilden Morden and Wrestlingworth circular, connecting with X46, 90-92, 188 and East Beds Link.
146: Recast to run hourly Cambridge-Royston via Barton, Harlton (some journeys), Haslingfield, Barrington, Shepreth, Meldreth, Whaddon and Bassingbourn.
152: Recast North Beds network to run hourly from Bedford (or Sharnbrook, connecting from Bedford) to Kimbolton, then on to St Neots, Huntingdon, Spaldwick or Brington Turn, the last two connecting with A14 Express.
188: Extend to run hourly Biggleswade-Cambridge via Sutton, Potton, Gamlingay, Caxton and Cambourne.
202: This route should offer peak-time links from Ashwell & Morden station to the Mordens as well as Ashwell. There should also be off-peak services between the station and Biggleswade via Ashwell village, Hinxworth and Edworth.
331: Combines with other services in area to run hourly Cambridge-Hertford via Melbourn, Royston and Buntingford. Alternate journeys via A10 to Buntingford then Hare St, Puckeridge and Ware; the others via Barkway, Wyddial, Buntingford and Dane End.
465/6: Hourly Huntingdon-St Neots via Buckden and Offord or vice versa. Connects X30 to Bedford, overall half hourly with X46.
747: Extends east of Uppingham replacing various existing services to run hourly Leicester-Peterborough. East of Duddington this would do a loop, alternately in each direction, via Thornhaugh, Wansford, A1 villages (eastbound, passengers from Peterborough may change to eastbound buses at Wansford), Lynch Wood, Orton Centre, Serpentine Shopping Centre, Peterborough, then as 310 via Edith Cavell Hospital to Stamford and back to Duddington.
East Beds Link: Reroute alternate journeys (those now serving Sutton) via Gamlingay.
West Hunts Demand Responsive: New community bus linking villages north of A14 and west of A1 with Oundle. Also connects A14 Express at Spaldwick or Brington Turn and 5, X6 or X46 at Sawtry.
See body of newsletter for more details on the issues mentioned below.
1. Write to the Secretary of State and any other people you can think of calling for a reopening of the public inquiry into the Great Barford By-pass.
2. Write to the Highways Agency objecting to the proposal to dual the A428.
3. Let us have your views on the two aviation issues that aroused controversy at our AGM.
4. If you are involved in campaigns against discrimination, remember to mention discrimination against non-motorists.
5. Write to your MP asking the Secretary of State to restore funding to the Rail Passenger Partnership scheme, and to look more critically at road schemes so that road building is only used to where this can solve real and urgent problems (such as the impact of traffic on Great Barford, but not whatever problem dualling is supposed to solve, which isn't congestion because there isn't any).
6. Write to your county councillor asking for a rethink on road user charges in the Cambridge area, and to suggest that Cambridgeshire (or Peterborough, if that's where you live) joins the Public Transport Consortium.