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The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway (abbreviated CGB, branded the busway) is a large-scale public transport project to connect the population centres of Cambridgemarker, Huntingdonmarker and St Ives, Cambridgeshiremarker, in the United Kingdom. During the 2000s planning and construction for a guided busway parallelling the A14 road took place, primarily usurping the course of the Cambridge and Huntingdon railway via the former Long Stantonmarker, Oakingtonmarker and Histon railway stationsmarker—a transport corridor that had been unused since 1993.

The intended bus network stretches a distance of 40 kilometres, with 25 kilometres as dedicated guided busway—thereby overtaking the South Australian O-Bahn Busway in Adelaide as the longest guided busway operation—with the remainder operating on existing roads through built-up areas. Along the former-railway line sections of the route, a combined cycleway, bridleway and maintenance track was included as part of the plans. Agreements were signed between the promoter Cambridgeshire County Council and two private bus operators; Stagecoach in Cambridge and Whippet Coaches in 2006. The intention was that the two bus operators would have exclusive use of the route for a period of five years, in exchange for providing a minimum service frequency between 07:00 and 19:00 each day.

Building activity started in March 2007 with the busway planned to open in April 2009. , construction remained underway at locations across Cambridgeshire, with expectations of the northern section being operational in January 2010 and sections south of Cambridge by the middle of 2010. The cost of the scheme was projected to be over £100 million.

Overview

Route of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway network
The scheme will link the city of Cambridgemarker, in East Anglia, with St Ivesmarker, Huntingdonmarker and Northstowemarker (a proposed new town) to the northwest and with the M11 motorway to the south. The route includes two sections of guided operation, a bus-only road and other places with on-street operation in normal bus lanes. New park and ride sites were planned to be built at Longstantonmarker and at St Ives, with a cycle track/bridleway provided alongside some sections of the route. The final scheme will include bus priority and real-time passenger information system displays at guideway bus stops.

It is estimated that 11,500 journeys a day will be made on the guideway.The scheme is predicted to cause a direct reduction in traffic on the busy parallel A14 road of 5.6% (rising to 11.1% with the new Park & Ride sites), although as other traffic re-routes to the freed-up road space from other parts of the local road network, the actual net reduction on the A14 is predicted to be 2.3%. The overall scheme is "not intended to solve the congestion problems on the A14" by itself, but will rather have an overall effect across the local road network, and be complementary to the planned road improvements on the A14.

Planning

In 2001 the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study (CHUMMS) recommended widening the A14 and building a guided busway along the old Cambridge and Huntingdon railway,which had been closed to rail traffic since 1970. Since closure there had been proposals to reinstate a conventional rail service, light railway network, bus lane, road with limited access, bus-way, cycle path and nature walk. A local group, CAST.IRON, was set up by 2003 to promote reinstatement of the route for conventional rail services and to resist other proposals, referring to the guided bus as the 'misguided bus'. A private consortium that had proposed a guided bus scheme, SuperCAM, abandoned their plans in 2003.

A public inquiry was held into the successful proposal during September-October 2004. The scheme was supported by five bus and coach operators, and some twenty other organisations and individuals. Some 2,735 objections were received from local councils, public bodies, transport interests, local pressure groups and individuals who criticised the Environmental Impact Assessment, supported the rail alternative or objected to the scheme in principle. The scheme was approved by the Government in December 2005.

Construction

In March 2007, the then Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander officially opened a manufacturing plant at Longstanton that would produce the 6,000 concrete beams for the Guided Bus route between St Ives and Cambridge.

In the same year a new viaduct constructed of "special maintenance free steel" was built over the River Great Ousemarker as a replacement for a previous long-standing 200-tonne wrought-iron railway viaduct removed in 2007. There would later be a dispute between the Conservative-controlled County Council and opposition Liberal Democrat councillors as to whether the structure was structurally sound or not, with a claim that water draining off the track over the viaduct could lead to crumbling.

By August 2008 approximately of the guideway had been constructed, between Longstanton and Milton Road (Science Park). On 30 November 2009, road signs directing traffic from the A14 towards the future busway park and ride sites started to be installed.

Delays

In January 2009 it was announced that the scheduled opening of the scheme had been delayed until late Summer 2009 owing to "bad weather and flooding in the Fen Draytonmarker area". Complications with a bridge at Hills Roadmarker in Cambridge meant that traffic restrictions would continue at that location through out the summer of 2009. Flooding and drainage issues affected the sections of the limestone covered cycleway during late 2009.

In August 2009 a further delay until "late November" 2009 was announced until the busway would start carrying passengers on the northern section, with no date given for the opening of the southern section.

On 16 November 2009 the project was delayed for the third time when Cambridgeshire County Council announced that the northern section of the busway would not open on the previously advertised date of 29 November 2009. An opening date of "the end of the year" 2009 for the northern section was announced later in the same month, followed four days later by "hopefully in the new year [2010]". Initial busway services would only reach Huntingdon railway stationmarker and not serve Hinchingbrooke Hospital as had originally been promoted during the public inquiry; neither would they continue southwards to Cambridge railway station.

Route

Starting at Huntingdon railway stationmarker and town centre, buses will travel on normal roads to St Ives. From here the busway follows the path of the former Cambridge and Huntingdon railway to a new park and ride site south of the town, where it becomes guided. The buses will stop at Swaveseymarker, Longstanton, Oakingtonmarker and Histonmarker, with a request stop for the nature reserve at Fen Draytonmarker. Upon completion of the new town at Northstowe, a further stop will be opened. Upon entering Cambridge the route will diverge. One route will have stops at Cambridge Regional Collegemarker and Cambridge Science Parkmarker, before the bus rejoins the road network to travel into central Cambridge. The other will join the road network at Orchard Parkmarker (Arbury Park), before continuing to the city centre. The routes converge at Cambridge railway stationmarker, where the buses will be again guided, travelling south to Addenbrooke's Hospitalmarker and Trumpington Park and Ride.

Design

The route is designed for buses travelling at , slowing to at junctions with the public highway.Guidance is achieved through the guidewheel-on-concrete-kerb method, with the guideway being constructed from pre-cast concrete sections that are long and wide.

The dedicated busway guideway itself is wide and made up of the two 2.6-metre wide guideways separated by a central reservation of , with an evacuation strip of on one outer side and a maintenance track of maximum on the other. Elevated sections are wider, with two evacuation strips, and a maintenance track at the base of the embankment. Through the Trumpington cutting there is a single guideway with a narrower maintenance track, giving a total width of approximately .

The nominal 10.7-metre corridor width of the guideway is wider than that of a single carriageway rural all-purpose road, which, built to 2009 standards would be plus verges.

Cost

The project was budgeted to cost £116.2 million, with central government providing £92.5 million of that. Cost-benefit analysis of the scheme had variously assessed as the expected ratio as 4.84, 2.28 (1998 prices) and 1.968, (a higher ratio is better), with the cost rising from an initial estimate of £54million. In December 2008, the County Council assessed the financial risks of the project as "high", with £12.7m of £23.7m funds from developers negotiated but none of that money in the bank and that the balance may never be paid. The taxpayer may have to make up any funding shortfall.

The contractor, BAM Nuttall, claimed that it would cost more than the original budgeted amount that to finish the work, perhaps £6 million more. Another report suggests that the overrun could be £30 million on a construction cost of £90 million. Cambridgeshire he County Council stated that it was confident that the scheme will come in on budget owing to the terms of its contract with BAM Nuttall.

Operators

Two operators, Stagecoach and Whippet Coaches, had committed to buying new buses and running commercial services on the scheme.Seven buses per hour will run between St Ives and Cambridge Science Park during the day and hourly in the evenings and Sundays.As with all other UK busway schemes in the privatised bus industry, Cambridgeshire County Council owns the infrastructure, and will allow private bus operators to use it on their registered services, subject to quality contracts specifying vehicle and service standards. During peak hours of 07:00–19:00 operators will be charged for using the busway.

When boarding a bus on the guideway section, passengers will be required to purchase their tickets before boarding. Cambridgeshire Country Council stated that multi-operator ticketing would be supported, allowing passengers to board the first bus that arrived—stating that such a ticket would be a first, but would take a while to perfect. Other cities, such as Nottingham, had had tickets valid on all operators' buses since 2004.

In March 2008 existing guided vehicles were trialled along a section near Oakington. The vehicles tested included a Wrightbus-bodied single-decker owned by FirstGroup, a Plaxton President-bodied Dennis Trident 2 double-decker from Lothian Buses, and a white Alexander Dennis Enviro500 triple-axled double-decker. The test vehicles were fitted with sensors to assess vibration levels and ride quality.

Stagecoach

Stagecoach eventually ordered ten Eclipse/B7RLE single decker buses, to be manufactured by Wrightbus and Volvo, and ten Alexander Dennis Enviro400/Scania N230UD double deckers for the guided busway network. All of the new specially-branded vehicles will be equipped with leather seats, air chill or air conditioning, real time information, and free Wi-Fi.

The journey time for Routes A and B from St Ives bus station to the Cambridge Science Park will be 23 minutes and an additional 15 minutes into Cambridge city centre—38 minutes in total. Stagecoach's previous three-times per hour Service 55 between Cambridge and St Ives had been timetabled as taking 30–37 minutes.

Whippet

Whippet will operate Route C from Somershammarker to Cambridge centre taking 57 minutes, with no Sunday service.

See also



References

  1. Station Road Part 9
  2. Cambridge Huntingdon Rapid Transit - the misguided bus?
  3. Cambridgeshire Guided Busway Inquiry, Minutes of Pre Inquiry Meeting 19 July 2004


External links




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