On 10 Sept our parent group changed its name from Transport 2000 to the Campaign for Better Transport. The idea of a new name had been under discussion ever since the turn of the Millennium and local groups such as ours were involved in the discussions. The new name was decided on earlier this year but was kept under wraps until the launch date above.
As a result of this name change, local groups will be following suit and since the date of the changeover we have been calling ourselves Cambridgeshire Campaign for Better Transport. However, we haven't yet updated either the name or the content of our website, and "officially" our name change won't be taking place until the AGM, where there will be a motion putting it into effect. This motion will also include a decision to open a bank account under the new name.
As this newsletter has led on the internal affairs of us and our parent organisation, it is convenient to continue with them here. We will be meeting for our AGM at 10.30 for 11.00 on Sat 1 Dec 2007 at the Secretary's flat. Details of how to get there are in the attached flyer, which is being sent to all members (including those who haven't paid up for this year). Non-members are also welcome but only paid up members can vote. Please make a special effort to come this time. And if you wish to stand for the Committee, please let us know as soon as possible -- the Chair has announced his intention to stand down so there will be at least one vacancy.
We will be using the meeting to gather the specimen signatures that will be required to open our new bank account, enabling us to maintain the double signatory requirement while still having flexibility for when people are away. Also, our annual financial and activities reports will be circulated at the meeting.
There are still a few members who haven't renewed for 2007-8. If you are one of them, this will be your last reminder. As we won't be opening our new bank account till after the AGM, cheques should be made payable under our old name of "Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk". Rates continue to be 4 pounds ordinary, 3 pounds concessionary and 5 pounds household/affiliate, and we continue to offer the options of paying for 2 years at once and/or subscribing to Transport Retort for an extra 8 pounds per year. Incidentally as far as we know there is no plan to change the name of the Campaign for Better Transport's national newsletter or alter its frequency or size, but if either is reduced those who choose to subscribe will, of course, be offered the option of cancelling with a full refund or having the subscription period extended appropriately.
Note the change in contact details (except email) for our Deputy Coordinator. To local groups shown in the contact list: we don't have any definitive information about what you are now calling yourselves, so if we've got your group's name wrong please let us know and we will give the correct version next time.
The biggest shake-up in the railway system for some time will be taking place over the next few years. Here are details of changes of various types affecting 14 operators. Note that some details are still open to change -- much of our material is taken from consultation timetables, to which we may be responding. Our information is not intended to be complete in respect of changes remote from our area.
Most (but not all) of the franchise changes apply from 11 Nov, but no service changes are scheduled to take place then -- they will be spread out over the years to come.
One theme that applies to several operators is the failure of many Inter-City trains to serve stations north of London where people living in our area can connect into them without having to travel into London.
Central Trains: Their new station at Coleshill Parkway in Warwickshire opened in August. It has a bus every 15 minutes to Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre, making this probably the best route option to get there from Peterborough or Ely. These buses start from Nuneaton (717), Sutton Coldfield (757), Tamworth (767) and Atherstone (777), each served hourly. Note however that none of these services runs in the evenings or on Sundays. See the "Disruptions" section of this newsletter for information about the Stansted Airport to Cambridge service.
The Central Trains franchise is being abolished from 11 Nov with its services taken over by Cross Country, London Midland, and East Midlands.
Cross Country: This franchise, to be operated by Arriva from 11 Nov, will now include regional inter-urban services from Birmingham (those routes not operated by London Midland, see below) as well as its present Inter-City routes (or rather those not affected by controversial network changes). In particular they will operate the service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Peterborough and Cambridge. Minor improvements are planned to this service from 2009, especially south of Cambridge, but we are not aware of any plan for improvements in integration, such as better connections with the East Coast Main Line at Peterborough.
Crossrail: Consent in principle has been given to the building of this line which will link Maidenhead, Shenfield and Abbey Wood by new tunnels under Central and East London. Unless anyone has heard to the contrary, one presumes that it will be operated on behalf of Transport for London, perhaps as part of the Overground network. We are unconvinced that the proposal as it stands represents value for money, especially as there are still problems to be resolved regarding capacity for freight and long distance passenger trains.
East Coast Main Line: This is being taken over by National Express from GNER on 9 Dec and will be known as National Express East Coast. New timetable proposals have been published. We are making representations on the proposal that most Scottish trains will no longer stop at Peterborough. What we would really like is that some trains should stop at St Neots: this has platforms on all lines so no infrastructure improvement would be necessary, it could connect with the Cambridge-Oxford bus service, and it would remove the anomaly that the stretch between Stevenage and Peterborough is at present by far the longest with no station served by Inter-City trains.
East Midlands Trains: This is the name of a new franchise from 11 Nov, to be operated by Stagecoach. It is not to be confused with Stagecoach East Midlands, a bus operator! (Though Stagecoach doesn't use that name any more, at least on its website.) East Midlands Trains will take over the Midland Main Line plus routes currently operated by Central Trains which do not serve the West Midlands, including the Norwich to Liverpool service. It will be opening a new station at East Midlands Parkway, near the airport, and it is hoped that it will also be restoring a train service between Kettering and Corby. On the downside, we are very concerned at the proposal that only half of the trains serving Bedford (and Luton or Luton Airport Parkway, Wellingborough and Kettering) will offer a link with Leicestershire and north thereof -- the rest will terminate at Corby.
Eurostar: Will be transferring their services from Waterloo to the new St Pancras International station on 14 Nov. Journeys will use the new high speed line from there to Kent, saving 22-25 minutes; in addition to which, passengers from most of our area will no longer need to cross London but will just have a short walk from Kings Cross. (West Anglia passengers should alight at Tottenham Hale and catch the Victoria Line to Kings Cross St Pancras.) The following stations in or near our area will have through fares to Europe: Bedford, Cambridge, Ely, Hitchin, Huntingdon, Kettering, Kings Lynn, Letchworth, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, Peterborough, Royston, Stevenage and Wellingborough.
On 19 Nov the new station at Ebbsfleet (near Gravesend) will open, and Eurostar has announced that passengers with valid Eurostar tickets will be able to travel free to Ebbsfleet on the Fastrack bus service (mentioned later in this newsletter) which serves key locations between Dartford and Gravesend including stations on the railway route, and also to either Ebbsfleet or Ashford on connecting trains operated by Southeastern. The bad news, however, is that Eurostar will be considerably reducing the number of trains stopping at Ashford -- which is at a junction of no less than 6 connecting rail routes -- just when this offer has increased the utility of this station. In 2009 a further station is expected to open at Stratford, also to be served by the planned domestic high speed service from St Pancras to Kent, operated by Southeastern. (Unfortunately we understand that premium fares will be charged.)
First Capital Connect: The go-ahead has been given for full implementation of the project that was for some time known as Thameslink 2000. This should lead to through trains from Cambridge, Peterborough and Kings Lynn to south of London, but unfortunately not till the completion of the project in 2015. We believe that some form of interim provision could have been made by linking with existing Southeastern services now running from Charing Cross (and thus not putting extra trains through the bottleneck at Borough Market, just west of London Bridge). See the "Disruptions" section of this newsletter for information about the London to Cambridge and Kings Lynn service.
On 9 Dec the Thameslink service will be moving from the existing Kings Cross Thameslink station (whose entrance will however remain for access to the Tube) to a new station further west, close to the Eurostar station and called St Pancras International. For passengers arriving on Great Northern trains, walking distance is likely to be reduced, though this may depend on which platform the train uses at Kings Cross.
Grand Central: This operator will shortly be starting services between Sunderland and London. Unfortunately for our area they won't be stopping south of York (just as Hull Trains don't stop south of Grantham).
London Midland: This is the name for a new franchise from 11 Nov, to be operated by Govia who currently run the Southern franchise, which will cover services currently operated by Silverlink north of Watford (including through services to Euston), plus local services around Birmingham and regional routes to Northampton, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Liverpool. From 2008 several improvements are planned including an hourly service from London to Crewe serving principal stations to Northampton, then all stations to Stafford except Polesworth, then Stone, Stoke, Kidsgrove and Alsager. Northampton will have a half hourly service to Birmingham restored with one train per hour running through from London. The Parry People Mover is expected to return to the Stourbridge Town branch on a daily basis. On the downside, there are no plans to restore a useful service to the stations (other than Stone) which were the subject of "closure by stealth" -- Barlaston, Norton Bridge, Polesworth and Wedgwood. These are shown on the official London Midland network map, but in the consultation timetable (for Mondays to Fridays) no trains are shown except for one in each direction serving Polesworth. (Though the eastbound cannot run at present as there's no access to the platform; if such access is provided, as can easily be done from the road bridge, why can't the station be given a full service?)
London Overground: This network will initially (from 11 Nov) consist of the routes between Richmond and Stratford, between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction, between Gospel Oak and Barking, and the all stations service between Watford and Euston. Later other routes will be added, including the extended East London Line on which work is currently under way, and which is currently envisaged to serve Dalston Junction, New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon by 2010, with later extensions to Highbury and Clapham Junction. The Overground will be managed by Transport for London, who will set fares in accordance with the London zonal system. Operation is being subcontracted to Laing (who currently run the Chiltern Railway franchise). Oystercards will be valid throughout the network (and, in due course, on the rest of London's railways). Further improvements, extending the network as well as increasing frequency, are planned. These include an upgrade to the Gospel Oak to Barking line which will also benefit freight (though it isn't linked to the East Coast Main Line and some other routes, and there are no plans to electrify it, which would increase its value for both passengers and freight).
Midland Main Line: From 11 Nov this franchise is incorporated in the new East Midlands Trains franchise, to be operated by Stagecoach.
One: A new bridge is currently being built on the line from Ely to Bury following the derailment of a freight train this summer. This is expected to be complete in December. Meanwhile trains between Peterborough and Bury are replaced by a combination of non-stop buses and buses serving existing intermediate stops. This means that Whittlesey's train service is confined to the few peak-time trains operated by Central that stop there. Couldn't Central have made some additional stops? See also the "Disruptions" section of this newsletter.
In our last newsletter we referred to Sunday trains to Lakenheath and Buckenham. These are still running and, as far as we know, will continue throughout the year. Note, however, that the Visitor Centre at RSPB Lakenheath is closed on Sundays in winter, and there may be no access to the lavatories. There is however an outdoor rack with leaflets showing a map of the main trails. At RSPB Buckenham, the only reserve access is the riverside public right of way to Cantley; part of this route was closed for 6 months for works, but these now seem to have finished. Buckenham station is also the closest railhead for the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen (which has a charge for non RSPB members) and for the nearby steam museum (not open in the winter or on most Saturdays). The RSPB also have a reserve at Berney Arms: again, the best way to see it is by a one way walk between the station of that name and Yarmouth or Reedham. Indeed that's the only way to see it from our area on Sundays, or on Mondays to Fridays in winter if one wants to use an Anglia Plus ticket and doesn't want to risk the unofficial connection leaving Norwich at 10.36.
Silverlink: From 11 Nov this franchise is abolished. Local lines within London, plus the stopping service to Watford, are taken over by London Overground; the rest of their network is taken over by London Midland.
Virgin West Coast: Although Virgin are losing the Cross Country franchise to Arriva, they still retain the West Coast Main Line franchise, which has acquired the Birmingham to Scotland service from Virgin Cross Country. A consultation timetable has been published. We are making representations with a view to improving connections from our region via stations between London and Coventry or Stafford: the currently planned off peak pattern shows 3 trains per hour for Milton Keynes (to Birmingham, Manchester via Stoke, and Chester/North Wales), hourly services from Rugby and Watford (both to Birmingham, which will also be served by London Midland), and no services at all for Nuneaton. From Cambridge Milton Keynes is linked by bus and Nuneaton by rail, and we will be renewing our call for a regular bus service to Rugby which would also connect with the Midland Main Line at Kettering.
Wrexham & Shropshire: This operator has been given the go ahead to run a service from Wrexham to Marylebone serving all stations to Wellington then Telford, Cosford, Wolverhampton, Tame Bridge and Banbury, thus avoiding the bottleneck at Birmingham New St. There will be potential for connecting from Oxford and beyond, but passengers from the East of England will find it hard to access the service.
The construction of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway is leading to greater disruption to our transport network than many people expected. Long Road was closed throughout the summer school holidays, leading to diversions of several bus routes. This went roughly as follows:
C7 (Cottenham-Granta Valley via Addenbrookes and Trumpington): In the daytime, this service was diverted at the Hills Road/Brooklands Avenue junction to run via Brooklands Avenue and Trumpington Road to Trumpington, then by the normal route. Passengers to/from Addenbrookes would have to change buses somewhere. In the evening, it did a double run between Hills Road/Brooklands Avenue and Addenbrookes.
H1 (Trumpington Park & Ride-Addenbrookes shuttle): This was diverted via Shelford Road and Granham's Road. (The latter hasn't had a regular service for a long time if ever.)
31 (Cambridge-Fowlmere via Addenbrookes, Trumpington and the Shelfords): This ran direct between Addenbrookes and Great Shelford. Some passengers on this route wanted this diversion to become permanent, as it saves considerable time. The problem is that the Foster Road estate in Trumpington was left without a service at all. It has many elderly residents who have difficulty walking far, and for such people the only alternative during the diversion was to prebook 2 days in advance with dial a ride, on which their concessionary passes do not entitle them to free travel. Surely some of the 100m+ construction cost could have been spared to give them a better service? The problem is that there are no other supported services in Trumpington whose diversion via this estate could be procured, except the H1 whose diversion would be unpopular with its users. We would recommend however that Cambridge's rural network should be modified to include more buses to the south-west, of which one could serve the Foster Road estate, thus enabling the 31 to use the direct route. (We would like it extended beyond Fowlmere, but that's a separate issue.)
National Express: The "booked" route for most of their Cambridge services is between Cambridge Parkside (with some starting at Madingley Road Park & Ride) and Trumpington Park & Ride stopping at Trumpington Maris Lane (and correspondingly in the other direction). Some services were diverted to start at Parkside and run via Madingley Road Park & Ride and the M11 to Trumpington Park & Ride, thus missing out Trumpington Maris Lane. Indeed, some coaches were continuing to do this after the work had finished, but we were informed that this wasn't supposed to happen -- so if your coach doesn't turn up at Trumpington Maris Lane (or Madingley Road Park & Ride) please complain to National Express, and let us know.
Also important was the closure every weekend in September and October of the railway line under Hills Road bridge, used by trains between Cambridge and London or Stansted Airport. Fortunately this appears to have finished now, but it meant that London passengers had to use buses at least as far as Royston or Audley End, or travel by coach. We suggested that the coach service should be enhanced but, despite initial interest from National Express, nothing seems to have happened. We would be interested to hear from anyone who had been unable to secure a seat on a weekend National Express coach.
There has also been disruption on the A1307 attributable to the construction of a new access to the Babraham Institute. This is expected to last several months too. When it is finished, the layout at Babraham is expected to be like that at Hinxton (see below) -- the access from the village will remain open but not for vehicles. A bus stop will be provided near the new entrance (whereas the only buses that pass the main entrance at Hinxton are non-stop National Express coaches). Any information on whether the roadworks are affecting buses between Cambridge and Haverhill? It's a pity that the Fulbourn option formerly provided by route 44 is no longer available (though route 17 continues to serve this corridor between the peaks).
Finally, the derailment south of Ely on the line towards Soham has led to the closure of this railway line for about 6 months, with reopening expected in December. Till then, trains that use this route are being replaced by buses as described in the last section. It is not possible to run extra passenger trains via Cambridge because of the limited capacity of the single line between Cambridge and Kennett, which as well as its normal passenger service is also carrying diverted freight trains. However, of course passengers can use the normal train service via Cambridge as an alternative route between Bury and Peterborough. The derailment also led to the closure of a section of the Great Ouse to boats, but fortunately navigation was restored in reasonable time for the National Waterways Festival in St Ives. (There was also an alternative route available.)
Cambridgeshire County Council has announced extensive consultation on its congestion charging proposals. Roughly speaking, these involve the following:
(a) Imposition of a charge on motorists driving to, from or within Cambridge (roughly within the boundary of the built up area) during the morning peak on Mondays to Fridays.
(b) An extensive programme of road and public transport improvements, to be implemented before the charge comes into effect, and to be financed by central Government. The only rail schemes seem to be the opening of a new Cambridge North Parkway station and the improvement of train services between Ely and Cambridge.
The consultation will include both exhibitions etc. targeted at the general public, and invitation meetings for stakeholder groups. If you are involved with an environmental group, please try to ensure that it is represented at one of these stakeholder meetings. If you haven't received an invitation, contact Paul Cook at the Shirehall as soon as possible (email email@example.com).
Our view is that we support the principle of congestion charging, but have reservations about many of the details. Will there be problems between 09.30 when the congestion charge ends and 10.00 when city centre access restrictions start? Will businesses move out of Cambridge, or change their working times to avoid the charge, in either case heedless of the needs of those employees who use public transport? Is the Council using the idea as a means of funding its pet road schemes, such as the Ely southern by-pass, which wouldn't get funding any other way? Is it doing enough to develop rail as well as bus options? Will there be benefits for people from smaller villages off the main bus routes?
The Highways Agency has announced its preferred route option for the A14 between Fen Drayton and the A1. It is intending to follow the orange route -- i.e. its original proposal. The Offords A14 Action Group successfully managed to require the Highways Agency to consult on alternative routes, but have evidently gained nothing thereby except a bit of time. It is expected that the statutory process will start in 2009.
The Highways Agency chose the option of sending all A14 traffic via the new route, enabling it to demolish the grossly intrusive Huntingdon Viaduct and replace it with an at-grade road junction with Brampton Road. This will in turn enable traffic approaching Huntingdon from the existing A14 or A1198 to avoid Godmanchester. However, unless east facing slip roads are provided where the new A14 crosses the A1198, traffic to Huntingdon from Cambridge and beyond via the A14 will have to use the existing A14 west of Fen Drayton, making it difficult to convert part of this route to a public transport priority corridor as proposed by the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study (CHUMMS). The Highways Agency are however considering providing west facing slip roads at this junction, which will be useful as part of a diversion route in case of blockage of the A14 between Cambridge and this junction.
At the moment our principal aims will be as follows:
1. Scale down the scheme to minimise traffic growth around Cambridge (and reduce the cost -- currently more than three times the figure envisaged by CHUMMS).
2. Provide a full interchange where the new A14 crosses the A1198, and convert the existing A14 to a public transport priority route.
3. Change the layout of the Girton interchange to include slip roads between the A428 and M11 in both directions, so that vehicles can be taken off the A1303. (There's no problem for traffic from the M11 to the A428, but in the other direction the layout proposed for this interchange will effectively prevent the later addition of a slip road.)
4. Amend the road layout in the Fen Drayton area so that an multi-modal transport interchange can be provided with access to/from both directions on the A14 as well as the existing A14, the proposed local roads to/from Bar Hill, and existing side roads to/from the villages.
5. Ensure that Cambridge Crematorium is served by buses in both directions.
6. Seek the closure of Town Bridge in Huntingdon to cars when the at-grade junction at Brampton Road provides an alternative way into Huntingdon from the Godmanchester area. (Buses should continue to be able to use Town Bridge.)
7. Seek the closure of the existing A14 north of Brampton Road, thus ensuring that through traffic uses the new route and reversing some of the damage that was done to Huntingdon's unique network of commons when the A14 was built.
However, our strategy may well change as a result of liaison with other groups opposing the scheme, such as the Offords A14 Action Group. We are hoping to set up an alliance to oppose the Highways Agency proposals. Note that we do not expect to maintain a "do nothing" stance -- our aim is to secure a scheme which will minimise traffic growth and costs while mitigating the worst aspects of the current layout. We would very much like to hear from anyone who would like to help in forming such an alliance, or who can introduce us to a group which might be interested in joining it.
We attended the Birmingham conference organised by Roadblock, the section of the Campaign for Better Transport whose job is to coordinate the anti-roads movement. Other A14 opponents were present, as well as anti-road activists from many other parts of England.
Meanwhile the Highways Agency continues to pursue schemes like the M1 widening, heedless of either the urgency of action on climate change or the effects of the resulting traffic growth on the traffic problems of towns on the M1 corridor.
The opening of the new Eurostar service makes it timely to ask how far one can go without flying. In a sense, the answer is "all the way", with the starting up of the Ozbus, an occasional bus service between London and Sydney. Well, one isn't completely free of flying, as there's no other option between East Timor and Darwin, Australia, and one is also liable to have to fly between Calcutta and Bangkok if the road across the Himalayas is closed. We hope to do a feature on the Ozbus and other overland options in the next newsletter.
The boat trips from Ely which we mentioned in our last newsletter have started and will continue till Christmas. The general pattern of operation is lunchtime and teatime trips (12.00-14.30 and 15.00-16.30) on Thursdays (Ely market day), Saturdays and Sundays. Prices are inclusive of food. Ring 01205 460595 or 07776 251878 for details. Unfortunately the operator didn't do a service to St Ives for the National Waterways Festival as we had hoped, even though the river was by then open after the disruption caused by the Ely derailment (see above). In summer the operator also does trips from Boston in Lincolnshire, including occasional one way trips across the Wash to or from Wisbech, with return transport by road provided.
Land transport to the National Waterways Festival was poor. As we reported last time, the Council had just axed a number of journeys on the Sunday service between Cambridge, St Ives and Huntingdon. Furthermore, no extra buses were running from Cambridge on the Monday even though as well as the Festival there's also the popular bank holiday market. (There seemed to be some extra buses from Huntingdon, though they weren't publicised on the operator's website.) To make things worse, the market took over the bus station with no information provided to passengers as to where they should go to pick up a bus.
For those who did manage to get to the festival, though, local boat trips were provided by a local boat operator, the St Ives Electric Riverboat, which also does regular trips on summer weekends (01480 392104 or 07906 257308).
In June we accepted an invitation to a Greater Cambridge Partnership meeting at Hinxton Hall, which is on the Sanger Genome Campus. The meeting was overwhelmingly dominated by business and local government interests -- which no doubt explains why the Coordinator found himself the only passenger who arrived on the not inconveniently timed (09.00 for an 09.30 start) C7 bus from Cambridge. This bus arrives at the "village" entrance to the site, which is not open to motor vehicles and can only be used by means of an entryphone.
Incidentally we understand that the Campus runs some staff buses to the main entrance near the Stump Cross A11/M11 interchange. Unfortunately these are not available to the general public, even to those attending the conference. The main entrance is not served by any local buses, though some National Express coaches do pass it nonstop. We believe that there is potential for an interchange between long distance coaches (including those serving Stansted and other airports) and local buses, which could take over the function of the staff buses and which would drastically improve the accessibility of the Campus, especially to visitors from far afield.
The meeting was not uninteresting. In reply to a speech lauding all the impending road projects planned for our area (many of which we strongly oppose) we asked whether the Partnership would also support the east-west rail link to Oxford. The answer was "yes".
After the meeting, the opportunity was taken to catch a C7 to Shelford and walk along the new cycle and pedestrian path (mentioned in our last newsletter) to Addenbrookes -- which incidentally is part of the Sustrans national network. It turns out that the coloured stripes which are so conspicuous when one sees this route from the train are a representation of the structure of the gene responsible for breast cancer, a bit of "sculpture" sponsored by the Genome Campus.
Residents of Cambridge will very likely have received through their door an invitation to join the "Streetcar" car club, which enables its members to hire a car when they need it. If used as an alternative to car ownership, car clubs can bring major benefits to all parties involved: the member is spared the high fixed cost of keeping a car, which is replaced by an increased marginal cost per journey as a result of which alternative means of transport will be used whenever possible, thus reducing traffic and helping to keep public transport going. The benefits would be greater still if mass car club membership was built into new developments and used to reduce garaging and parking space, thus saving on land take and making developments more compact and pedestrian/cyclist friendly.
Finally, we would like to draw attention to the Climate Change March in London on Sat 8 Dec. Meet Millbank (near Westminster tube station) at noon. Note that National Express coaches which normally go that way will presumably be diverted because of the march and may not stop between Aldgate and Victoria. However, as we said above, the engineering work that deprived Cambridge people of trains to London seems to have finished.
We start with the revised proposals for redeveloping the area around Cambridge station. The developers, Ashwell, recently exhibited their revised proposals. The main improvement seemed to be with the bus station, with all services using a terminal near the south side of the station. Our main concern was with the proposed car park -- if the congestion charging proposals go ahead there will probably be a mass exodus of park & ride commuters to the new parkway station making the car park a white elephant, and demand could surely be catered for by the existing leisure centre car park the other side of the line, if only a crossing was provided. We also commented on the need for a pedestrian route to the new Brooklands Avenue developments and asked why the bus station seemed to be further from the rail station entrance than the car and taxi drop-off and pick-up points.
We have not been involved in the current controversy over the proposed new development at Mereham, in the area between the A1123, A10 and B1049. However we don't like the site. There is little possibility of rail access so it will be highly car dependent. This will lead to dualling of the A10 towards Cambridge, further exacerbating the city's traffic problems.
Finally, the City Council has issued its report on the consultation into the future of North-West Cambridge. This doesn't seem to support the public transport primacy we asked for, let alone the measures described in Newsletter 95 which will open up the opportunity for proper bus priority and restoration of a rail link to Bedford.
While there have been few major changes since out last newsletter, there have been quite a lot of small changes.
Cambridge station: Southbound bus stops have been moved to a new stop on the south side of Station Road. This will make it easier for passengers to find their bus, but it slightly extends journey time for passengers from the city centre intending to pick trains up.
National Express: The agency in the kiosk that has replaced the former office in Drummer Street is charging an agency fee of 1 pound for coach bookings. The notice warning customers of this is located where it can't be seen because it's behind the staff. If possible try to use alternative agencies which don't charge a fee, such as Victoria Coach Station in London. National Express have told us they don't like the situation.
Translinc: Boston-Peterborough-London coach service withdrawn. National Express still run, and provide the only Sunday service between Peterborough and Spalding.
C1-6 (Peterborough): A major shakeup to the city's evening and Sunday services. Whittlesey loses its evening buses but gains a Sunday service (though it was already served on Sundays by route 337). It has previously lost the limited evening service on route 701. Also extra services on route C2 to Bretton and C6 to Hampton.
C1 (Cambridge): Some time ago -- we're not sure when -- extra late night buses were provided on Sundays. Journeys to the City Centre and Arbury leave the station at 23.35 and 00.05 (Monday).
C4 (Cambridge): Has been extended to the new Arbury Camps development, giving this area and many intermediate points a much better service, evenings and Sundays included. The only downside is that passengers from the Cambourne direction wishing to catch trains have a longer walk. (In the reverse direction, buses can still be picked up near the Catholic Church.)
X4 (Peterborough-Milton Keynes): Hourly pattern shifted, but basic service level unchanged.
13/A (Peterborough-Oundle area villages): Route completely changed.
X14 (Peterborough-Thrapston): New route replacing 14 and various former Alec Head services transferred to Stagecoach earlier this year. Does 4 round trips from Peterborough, the section beyond Oundle being by a circular route serving both sides of the river Nene. The number 14 will be retained by a Peterborough city service serving the Orton area.
15 (Peterborough-Oundle): New route also replacing former Alec Head routes, running via Folksworth, Lutton and Polebrook, 1 journey each way Mondays to Saturdays.
16 (Peterborough-Huntingdon): Minor changes to journeys serving Folksworth. Also last journey from Peterborough to Sawtry is renumbered C6 extending the route above.
37 (Peterborough-Spalding): Retiming of afternoon peak journey.
138 (Fleet Hargate-Peterborough): Reduced to Wednesdays only (formerly also ran Fridays).
200 (Newmarket-Thetford): Largely withdrawn. The section west of Mildenhall is served by route 400 and the section east by route 201. This means that people from Lakenheath wanting to go to Cambridge by a direct route now need 2 changes -- at Mildenhall and Newmarket.
209 (Oundle-Great Gidding circular): Now does 3 round trips every Thursday, giving time for shoppers to change for Peterborough. The other leg of the 209 is withdrawn, as is the 205 that formerly ran on Wednesdays direct between Great Gidding and Peterborough. Great Gidding is still served by Friday route 409 to Huntingdon.
292 (Lakenheath-Ely): This route was withdrawn some time ago, but we mention it because it features in a description of the effects of bus cuts on the Campaign for Better Transport's website. See http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/campaigns/public_transport/buses/examples_cuts for this and other examples in other parts of the country. The service was interworked with the 282 between Lakenheath and Cambridge that was also withdrawn.
331, 337 (Peterborough-Ramsey/March): Timetables changed but overall service level roughly the same.
402, 408, 410 (Peterborough local links): Various minor changes.
415: Half hourly Orton-Hampton, including Sunday shopping hours (though with some gaps around lunchtime), operated by Cavalier. Note that this is not the Wednesday service from Wood Walton to Peterborough, which is unchanged (operated by Peterborough Dial a Ride under contract to Cambs CC -- not as a dial a ride route though).
Beds: Stagecoach have withdrawn route J1 which ran between Bedford and Flitwick via Clophill, Maulden and Ampthill, and have rerouted J2 away from Houghton Conquest, so that it now runs direct between Bedford, Ampthill and Flitwick every hour. Operating hours on this route are reduced so that it no longer provides a commuter link from Flitwick station to Ampthill after the peak period (i.e. when cheap day return tickets become valid). Additional service between these points continues to be provided by Grant Palmer's X42 which is diverted via Houghton Conquest. Grant Palmer also provide an X44 which runs hourly on the Bedford-Clophill section of former J1, with some journeys extended via Maulden to Ampthill and beyond (though only one in the off-peak period). There have also been changes to their 200 between Biggleswade and Flitwick/Ampthill. All in all a very poor service for the area now. Stagecoach have also announced that they will be withdrawing from contracted routes 125-6 between Bedford and Rushden via North Beds villages at the end of the year.
Bucks: Following the opening of the controversial Linslade Western Bypass, an hourly express bus has been introduced linking Aylesbury and Milton Keynes direct. The frequency of the X15 which formerly linked these towns via Leighton Buzzard and Heath & Reach is reduced north of Leighton Buzzard. Route 70 between Luton and Leighton Buzzard is extended hourly to Milton Keynes via Soulbury, Stoke Hammond and Bletchley. Arriva have withdrawn the X66 which formerly ran direct between Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Dunstable and Luton, but Centrebus now runs the X31 this way, though at lower frequency. (VT 99, operated by Stagecoach in Bedford, still runs direct between Milton Keynes and Luton.) Also, Arriva 61 between Aylesbury and Luton extends to Luton Airport.
Cumbria: The county council is threatening to withdraw support for most journeys on route 564, which links Kirkby Stephen with Kendal via Sedbergh. Sedbergh has recently launched itself as England's "Book Town" (equivalent to Wales's Hay on Wye, which has a much better service including on Sundays); if implemented this will make access thereto from the east very difficult. Worse still will be the loss of the sole link between the Yorkshire Dales (including the Settle-Carlisle line) and the South Lakes. This route was featured in an article about the threat to rural buses in the Sunday Telegraph on 14 Oct (which can be found on its website http://www.telegraph.co.uk by searching for "kirkby stephen").
Kent: The Campaign for Better Transport web page referred to above also covers the withdrawal of postbuses here. The 6 services from Canterbury and Maidstone have all been withdrawn, though there are still 5 services from Gravesend, Sittingbourne, Chatham/Rochester and Tunbridge Wells (the last being mainly in East Sussex). Elsewhere in the county, we previously mentioned Fastrack which provides a high quality service partly on segregated busways (not guided) serving Dartford, Bluewater Shopping Centre, Ebbsfleet station (when it opens), Gravesend and other key locations in the area.
Norfolk: First have axed several services on Norwich rural routes. The Thetford and Watton rural routes no longer run beyond Attleborough. Watton is served by an improved (hourly) link to Norwich on Konect 3, with connections at Wicklewood to/from Wymondham by Konect 9, but otherwise just about the only service available is a demand responsive Wayland Flexibus which runs without a timetable so people can't preplan their journeys before booking. Among the villages served is Snetterton where major development is proposed. Also withdrawn is 56 to Fakenham but this has been taken over by Norfolk Green as route X29.
Northants: As well as the routes serving Peterborough and Cambridgeshire mentioned above, the rest of the former Alec Head network has been axed, with no replacements other than those described in the last section. At the other end of the county, the X6 (Northampton-Oxford) has been withdrawn, the 88 (Northampton-Brackley, hourly) reduced to 2 hourly and curtailed at Silverstone, but new route X88 runs between Northampton and Oxford 2 hourly serving all 88 stops to Brackley then using the former X6 route via Bicester.
Oxfordshire: The key link on the A34 corridor between Didcot and Newbury is being withdrawn as a through service in December (Newbury Buses 6 and 9). There are other changes in the south of the county.
Powys: Many changes were made to their network this summer, both good and bad. An interesting new route is the X11 which leaves Builth Wells for Ludlow at 09.25 on Mondays (Ludlow market day) and Thursdays via Presteigne and Knighton, returning at 13.25. Good connections are available to/from Llandrindod Wells.
Suffolk: Further Sunday cuts have been inflicted. The loss of the Haverhill-Ipswich route isolates the Stour Valley and Hadleigh, and leaves Sudbury only served by train. Also withdrawn are through services between Ipswich and Saxmundham, making Aldeburgh passengers dependent on rail/bus connections.
Warwickshire: Many route changes in the area around Stratford, Leamington and Warwick. The overall service level is increased in some areas and reduced in others.
As usual all the items here are referenced elsewhere in the newsletter.