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Cambridge Biomedical Campus faces ‘disaster’ if a station is not built soon

Cambridge Biomedical Campus faces a “truly frightening” situation with increasing volumes of traffic, it has been claimed, amid suggestions it will be a “disaster” if a new railway station is not built in the area soon.

Cambridge Biomedical Campus aerial view. Picture: CBC. (7501688)
Cambridge Biomedical Campus aerial view. Picture: CBC. (7501688)

The campus, which is home to Addenbrooke’s and Rosie hospitals, private business and research facilities, is expected to see a surge of traffic when the nearly-completed Papworth Hospital and the global headquarters of biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca open.

Residents have been highlighting problems in the streets in nearby Trumpington and Queen Edith’s, saying any increase of traffic from people travelling to the site for work will have a bad effect on the already struggling transport infrastructure, as well as contributing to worsening air quality.

On Wednesday (February 27) The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s joint assembly met in Cambridge to discuss the situation.

A report which went before the assembly reads: “Further growth is anticipated to 2031 and beyond, with this development serving to increase the number of staff and visitors to the site. Economic success to date has been widely celebrated in the Greater Cambridge Region, but it is now contributing to transport congestion that threatens to choke further economic growth and compromise high quality of life.”

The report says that, by 2031, the area is expected to see 26,000 workers accessing the campus, with 25,100 patients and visitors also needing access. This, the GCP warns, equates to 67,500 daily trips to the biomedical campus, 46,400 of which are predicted to be made by car “if current travel patterns continue”.

Prof Helen Valentine, of Anglia Ruskin University, said the GCP needed to push forward to try to secure a new railway station near Addenbrooke’s hospital as a priority.

“I think it is truly scary for that part of Cambridge, the volumes of traffic are huge. It seems to me Cambridge South is absolutely essential. It would be a disaster without that. But that is a number of years away and things will only get worse before then.

Peter Blake, transport director at the GCP, agreed, saying the new station is an important part of making sure transport to and from the campus does not make things worse for people and businesses nearby.

“Not to put too fine a point on it, but the report says we need to get on with it,” said Mr Blake. “We need to particularly make the case for Cambridge South station.”

The station is currently slated for completion in 2025, with Network Rail saying it will take a long time to make the physical and timetabling changes needed to make the project a reality. But the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer, has previously hit out at the long time scale, and is pushing to get an “interim” station in place by 2021.

Former transport secretary Lord Andrew Adonis has even spoken up on the topic, saying Cambridge South could be built and open within a year if “lethargic” Network Rail gets its act together. Network Rail have previously said they are working “as fast as they can” on the new station.

As well as long term solutions like the station, the report suggest short term measures like improving walking and cycling infrastructure, and improving public transport and park and ride facilities.

Cllr Peter Topping said he thought large institutions moving to the campus could contribute more to helping sort out the transport issues.

Cllr Topping said: “In the same way Cambridge University realises it has a duty of care to Cambridge’s welfare, it seems to me Royal Papworth also has this. Clearly they are a large institution, and for them to step up to the plate is important.”

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