Off-road Cambourne to Cambridge busway route unveiled by Greater Cambridge Partnership
The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s preferred off-road route for a new Cambourne to Cambridge busway has now been unveiled.
The proposed £160million busway will use new technology, cut congestion and reduce journey times, but critics say it is not the solution and would be environmentally destructive.
The off-road route, along with a new travel hub, and improved walking and cycling was published by the GCP on Monday (January 20).
It uses existing roads through Cambourne before joining a dedicated section of new road running through the planned Bourn Airfield development. It continues south along the A428 and A1303 past Hardwick to Madingley Mulch, then travels through fields to the north of Coton and across the M11 using a newly-built bridge.
The busway rejoins the existing road network at West Cambridge where it will travel via a segregated link down Adams Road before joining the city’s current network.
A new travel hub is proposed at Scotland Farm where people can park their cars and switch to the busway or use walking and cycling links.
Parts of the current Cambourne to Cambridge road network suffer heavy traffic congestion at peak times. Without action, car trips into the city are predicted to increase by up to 70 per cent, with already lengthy journey times due to double by 2031.
The preferred route is estimated to improve journey average morning peak journey times by 19 minutes from 50 to 31.
But concerns have been raised by communities in several locations along the proposed route about its impact, including villagers in St Neots Road, Hardwick, and those in Coton – and from cyclists, up to 6,000 of whom use Adams Road each day.
There are also concerns that should it be announced that East West Rail will include a station in Cambourne, those communities will be impacted further.
The GCP says one of the main issues for those currently using public transport to travel between Cambourne and the city is reliability, which the busway would improve.
Peter Blake, transport director at the GCP, told the Cambridge Independent why the evidence pointed to an off-road route, compared to the on-road alternative promoted by some campaigners.
“It would be nice to use Madingley hill, but there simply isn’t the space,” he said. “It’s also quite a sensitive area with the American Cemetery and the ancient woodland in that location. We simply can’t put the necessary infrastructure in that location, so we have to look and see what the realistic options are.”
He added: “The conclusion that we draw is on balance it needs to be predominantly off-road from the Bourn Airfield site through to the West Cambridge site.”
The GCP says an off-road route would offer the most reliable public transport journeys and is the only solution that aligns with the planned Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM), which will carry passengers underground through the city.
The busway will also use new technology, meaning it will not be built using large amounts of concrete, like the existing St Ives to Cambridge route. While design work is still to be done, the GCP says there will be measures to mitigate its environmental impact.
Mr Blake said: “We are looking, in discussion with local communities, at vegetation. As we get into the rural areas, would you want a simple bund? Or would you want vegetation, hedgerows or trees planted? That’s the next stage.”
The GCP has adapted its proposals after three public consultations.
The route will go before the GCP’s Joint Assembly on January 30 and then members of the executive board for a decision on February 19.
If the plan is agreed by the board, it would be subject to an environmental impact assessment, which would involve further consultation, before it is submitted to the Department of Transport for final approval in mid-2020.