‘Pause Cambourne to Cambridge busway scheme’ urges Local Liaison Forum
The consultation forum for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway scheme has called for the project to be paused, citing uncertainty surrounding plans for a metro system and East West Rail.
The Local Liaison Forum (LLF) – a consultation group made up of representatives for the communities along the route of the scheme – called for the pause at its latest meeting on June 2, before the plans go in front of the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) executive board on June 25 to approve progress on them.
As reported, the GCP released “final route proposals” for two schemes earlier this month: Cambourne to Cambridge, and the south east route, running from Addenbrooke’s to Babraham.
The GCP says both busways are “intended to be served by modern, electric vehicles to limit air pollution and noise and are complemented by travel hubs to encourage Park & Ride journeys and end-to-end walking, cycling and horse riding”.
Its officers told the Cambourne to Cambridge LLF meeting that the route will still need to undergo road safety audits and environmental impact assessments prior to any planning approval or construction. It hopes the route could be open by 2024.
But forum members, who have heavily criticised the busway plans, said the GCP should wait for more clarity on East West Rail, which will also connect Cambourne with parts of Cambridge, and for the publication of a proposed route for the Combined Authority’s Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, an electric vehicle scheme that is intended to subsume and extend the GCP’s routes.
The LLF’s resolution, decided on Tuesday, reads: “The LLF opposes a premature decision on the current Cambourne to Cambridge busway scheme. It is unfit for purpose, anachronistic and environmentally damaging, and is now out of step with emerging proposals for East West Rail and CAM.”
The busway will need to take account of where the new East West Rail station will be created in Cambourne, the LLF pointed out.
“This is a multi-billion pound scheme that needs to be thoroughly understood first,” said the resolution.
“In the meantime, we support the development of interim high-quality bus priority measures and/or improved services on existing infrastructure, that can support the Local Plan and provide immediate transport benefits to key employment locations whilst the bigger picture falls into place.”
But GCP transport director Peter Blake told the meeting: “One of the reasons [East West Rail] gave for choosing the corridor was the ability to compliment the Cambourne to Cambridge and the CAM scheme.”
Jo Baker, the GCP’s project manager for the scheme, told the meeting that a confirmed location for the Cambourne railway station is not expected until next year, adding: “There would be additional local works needed to look at how C2C [the Cambourne to Cambridge busway] can maximise integration both with East West Rail, but also with the aspiration of the Combined Authority to eventually extend the CAM system out as far as St Neots.”
The GCP has been involved in an ongoing dispute with the mayor of the Combined Authority, James Palmer, who has raised concerns that the scheme will not align with his wider vision for the metro.
The GCP has previously said: “The in-built flexibility of our current plans means they can accommodate the CAM and also schemes such as East West Rail, with whom we are working closely. EWR expect to make a decision on the Cambourne station location in 2022 and the delivery of critical infrastructure cannot be held up for this long.”
Development of a new village at Bourn Airfield requires new public transport measures to be in place, the GCP points out.