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Cambourne to Cambridge in five minutes – 120mph bus study gets backing

By Ben Comber

City Deal AVRT concept vehicle interior
City Deal AVRT concept vehicle interior

The City Deal and think-tank Cambridge Ahead have put their money forward to assess ambitious transport projects for Greater Cambridge.

Ambitious new uses for busways are being considered in a Cambridge University report, while those pushing light rail schemes say political support for a metro line has totally changed the conversations being had since last year.

City Deal chair Lewis Herbert said: “The City Deal is planning this year in terms of what the options are to radically improve transport in the Cambridge area after 2020.”

Prof John Miles, who specialises in electric vehicles, is the lead author of a feasibility study exploring the practicability of a rapid mass transit system along a segregated track with a mix of above-ground and underground routes with high-speed driverless vehicles. In theory, it could whisk passengers from Cambourne to Cambridge in five minutes.

Cllr Francis Burkitt, vice chair of the executive board, said Prof Miles’ report was part-funded to ensure the plans for the next 10 years will stand the test of time and still be useful in 20 to 30 years.

Assessing whether the system could use a guided busway could have an impact on proposals for a new one connecting Cambridge to Cambourne.

“It’s like the Victorians,” said Cllr Burkitt. “We don’t want to spend a fortune on canals if we are going to invent the steam train 20 years later.”

Cambridge Ahead said the ability to ensure that growth is sustainable depends on addressing the acute congestion challenges.

A spokesperson said: “With this in mind, Cambridge Ahead has been actively working with local authorities and others to help shape the strategic vision for future transport in Greater Cambridge, including funding research to assess the options for, and viability of, various new transport options.

“More broadly, we have also been working actively to support a number of proposals for improved rail links. This includes working with colleagues on the Biomedical Campus to make the case for a new station at Addenbrooke’s, exploring options for improved rail links to the east of Cambridge towards Newmarket and Ipswich, and improved links between Wisbech and March.

“We have also put forward our case and evidence to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for sustainable, fast transport connections between Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford.”

Colin Harris, of Cambridge Connect, said light rail plans will also benefit from Prof Miles’ study. He said: “It’s still a way away from reality, it’s not a system that’s either built or tested. But there are a lot of interesting concepts. If it works for Cambridge that would be wonderful.”


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