The three concepts unveiled for Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro in full
Some creative designs have been selected as possible solutions for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) that mayor James Palmer hopes to bring to the region
Three options that the Combined Authority leader described as “truly groundbreaking” were unveiled this week.
They include a driverless bubble car-style vehicle that passengers would not have to share with strangers, tiny autonomous buses and CAM stations that are reimagined as “community-centred hubs”.
The metro is designed to link Cambridge with the surrounding towns and villages. Tunnels are envisaged beneath the city, with a couple of stops expected.
The Tory mayor, who wants the CAM delivered between 2023 and 2029, said: “We have challenged some of the brightest and best minds in infrastructure to show us the art of the possible.
“The resulting designs show the vast potential for CAM to deliver something truly groundbreaking, transforming our economy and people’s lives, through a system which is world leading.
“To bring world class public transport to a region of our size and population, we have to be bold and apply new thinking. These designs give us a powerful insight into what can be achieved when you are prepared to challenge convention.
He added: “What these designs also show is how flexible and adaptable to the needs of our region CAM can be. With innovative thinking like this, we can extend the network further into our region."
But he warned: “High quality infrastructure is expensive. The welcome upgrade of 21 miles of the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge cost £1.5billion. By comparison CAM will offer about 90 miles of high quality, region-wide public transport, and at a potential cost of nearer £2billion, according to some of these designs. That, alongside the cost to the economy of failing to act on putting in the right infrastructure, is another reason why the case for CAM is compelling.”
The three groups of designers selected for the process put forward three very different conceptual designs. These cover the vehicles, the infrastructure, and how the system would operate.
The Combined Authority said the designs were intended to “help inform, challenge and inspire how CAM can realise its mission to be transformational for the future of the region, while remaining deliverable and offering value for money”.
A report from its technical advisory committee in May last year said the cost of the project could be more than halved, from over £4billion to less than £2billion, by using smaller vehicles, meaning smaller tunnels and smaller stations.
Aspects of these designs could be adopted as part of the next business case phase, which will begin in April.
The three suppliers who developed them were Dromos Technologies, Egis and Cambridge-based Mott MacDonald. Here, we take a look at each of them and then invite you to vote for your favourite.
Dromos envisages and on-demand, around-the-clock service in which users would request a ride from their phone or at a stop, present a QR code at the vehicle door, then get in and be whisked away in their own electric, autonomous vehicle - meaning they would not need to share the ride with other passengers.
The company estimates a cost of £1.5bn-£2bn for the scheme, which it says would have ‘minimal impact’ on the existing infrastructure.
Lars Herold, CEO of Dromos Technologies, said: “The Dromos Autonomous Network Transit (ANT) approach offers a world-leading innovative transport solution for CAM, which will define Cambridgeshire & Peterborough as a pioneer in future mobility.
“With up to 84 stops across the CAM network, Dromos delivers significant passenger benefits. Passengers travel non-stop in their own Dromos vehicle, without having to share with other passengers.
“The system runs on-demand, 24/7, 365 days a year. Passengers request a CAM ride through their own devices, or from electronic kiosks at CAM stops, with ride availability in under two minutes any time of day.
“The vehicle offers generous interior space, work tables, wifi and space for bikes and luggage. Because vehicles travel non-stop, journey times are short and reliable. Vehicles and stops are fully wheelchair accessible. Dromos offers a comfortable and individualised transport experience accessible to all.
“The Dromos ANT solution delivers rail system levels of capacity for CAM with space requirements and construction time compared with traditional mass transit systems. As a clear demonstration of these benefits, Dromos has proposed a concept design for CAM, which can be delivered quickly. It’s highly flexible, with options for tunnels, underpasses, elevated lanes or segregated surface alignment, making it easy to implement to suit the demands of the urban or rural landscape. Moreover it offers significant environmental benefits and is carbon neutral at point of use. Simply put, it’s what the future of public transport looks like.”
The Dromos presentation
Egis proposes a system with tram-like vehicles on fully segregated roads.
It would phase the system, beginning with two CAM lines and driverless trials on the network, with a back-up driver, using 18.7-metre vehicles carrying up to 110 passengers.
This would increase to three and eventually five lines with full driverless operation and the potential for on-demand services across the network. Smaller vehicles would be introduced for 20 passengers at this stage.
With tunnels, the system would cost £2.667bn, with running costs of £75.4m per year. An alternative ‘at grade’ option without them would cost £1.059bn, and feature running costs of £74.6m.
Egis’s Gilles Autuori, executive vice president - head of railways and urban transit projects for Europe and APAC, said: “Egis are pleased to present our contribution to the concept proposals for the CAM network.
“Based on our experience of similar projects worldwide we offer an alternative solution that we believe to be scalable, cost effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable and which places the user experience at the heart of the system.
“We propose innovations across the entire scope of the infrastructure, vehicle and operational concepts and enhanced connectivity by incorporating improvements for walking, cycling and modal interchange as well as integrated first/last mile services achieving improved coverage and accessibility to the system.
“Our roadmap to full driverless operation provides a logical progression allowing for efficient and safe transitioning to the ultimate vision of an on-demand, customer responsive, seamless journey experience.”
The Egis presentation in full
Mott MacDonald says its solution would integrate proven and new technology with electric vehicles stopping at stations equipped with electric charging points, solar panels and green roofs.
It depicts an option with tunnels, but also notes: “A surface running solution is possible in the central core which would deliver a potential saving on the capital cost.
“It would require a significant change in the current attitude towards private car use in order to reallocate road in favour of CAM.”
Stephen Luke, practice leader for rapid transit at Mott MacDonald, said: “This complete concept design brought together expertise from across Mott MacDonald and specialist consultants Maynard, MTR, Podaris and Transport Design International.”
“Our design fully considers all the elements of how the CAM should be delivered: user experience, vehicle, infrastructure, operations, sustainability and finance and funding. The golden thread running through our concept is the clear focus on improving people’s lives: we want to provide a community-based, sustainable, accessible mode of transport that improves the liveability of the region and that provides skilled jobs in manufacturing and maintenance.”
“Our concept features CAM stations that are reimagined as community-centred hubs; spaces that serve the public. We have put forward a modular construction approach, which will not only use local technology and manufacturing expertise but will also allow for each hub to the constructed in response to the specific and evolving needs of the local community.”
“The team at Transport Design International has designed a fully autonomous, battery powered, two-car vehicle, accessible to all and which will provide smooth and fast transport. The bidirectional all-wheel design makes it highly suitable for the towns, cities and tunnels of Cambridgeshire.”
“The collaborative environment we established at the start of this process means that we have been able to draw upon the very best specialist expertise in transit design and create a credible, scalable and flexible concept using a blend of new and proven technology, that will ultimately benefit the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”
The Mott MacDonald presentation in full
Now vote for your favourite