What is the Cambridge Eastern Access Project?
Cambridge Eastern Access is one of four areas identified by the GCP Executive Board as being in need of a high-quality public transport route into Cambridge. It is one of four corridor projects that aim to provide better public transport and active travel routes for walking and cycling as well as offering alternatives to car use.
What are the objectives?
Why have you chosen Cambridge Eastern Access for a public transport route?
The key radial route into Cambridge from the east, the A1303 Newmarket Road, suffers from significant congestion during peak times as do the arterial routes of Ditton Lane, Barnwell Road, Airport Way and Coldhams Lane. This means that people can be sitting in traffic for lengthy periods.
Developments in the area, with 1,300 new homes under construction in the Marleigh and Land North of Cherry Hinton (LNCH) developments and the potential large scale redevelopment of Marshall’s/Cambridge Airport site, will place considerable additional pressure on the corridor.
We plan to manage this with an improved or new public transport route to avoid congestion and help people to make quicker, more environmentally sustainable and reliable journeys into and out of Cambridge from the east by public transport, walking and cycling.
What is the timetable for the project?
We began talking to stakeholders last year. In July and August of this year we did our first round of engagement where we gathered feedback from the public and stakeholders.
This consultation is an opportunity for people to give us their views on a number of options at an early stage. No decisions have been made and the feedback you give us will help us to identify which options could be taken forward for further development.
As the study proceeds, and subject to our Executive Board’s approval there would be another public consultation that would look at more specific options in greater depth.
Which is the current preferred route?
We have no preference. The transport consultants working on the Cambridge Eastern Access project, WYG, have identified some ways that public transport, cycling and walking could be improved to the east of Cambridge in the short term alongside some longer term improvements. The options include a new dedicated off-road public transport route and walking and cycling proposals as well as options for improving the Cambridge to Newmarket railway line.
The feedback we get from stakeholders, transport users and the public will be important when defining the options to take forward.
How does this project fit with the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM)?
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is planning to construct the CAM as part of its Local Transport Plan. This project, along with three other GCP public transport, cycling and walking routes around the city, will form part of the first phase of the CAM.
Who decides whether to go ahead with the options?
The decision over the final options and whether to proceed to construction will be made by the Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board. The membership of the Executive Board can be found on our website.
There are lots of projects planned for the east of the city. How does this project fit with them?
There is currently a lot of development work happening in and around Cambridge. We regularly talk with those organisations undertaking other developments to understand how our project fits into the bigger picture.
This project, like all of our transport schemes, will deliver a better transport system for Greater Cambridge, which will help manage the impacts of developments proposed and currently underway.
How does this project fit with the East Barnwell Masterplan?
Cambridge City Council is working on its ‘East Barnwell Conversation’ which is asking for local people’s views on new housing, community, business and recreational facilities for the Abbey area of Cambridge.
Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cambridge City Council are keeping in close contact to discuss the impacts each project could have on the other.
The consultation will run from 30 October 2020 to 14 December 2020. You can find out more at https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/east-barnwell-conversation-framework-for-change
We have seen changes to traffic patterns as a result of COVID-19. Does this mean that we won’t need this project?
COVID-19 has led to significant reduction in travel in the short term and that may lead to a long term change. However this project is looking to achieve two aims:-
The local economy in Cambridge is based around growing technology and specialist sectors such as biomedical research. So the need to improve public transport, cycling and walking between Cambridge to Waterbeach remains.
This project along with all of GCP’s transport projects aims to help get Cambridge moving again and support the City’s recovery from Covid-19.
The consultation is all online. How are you making sure that it’s accessible to people who can’t or don’t want to respond online?
We have delivered hard copy consultation brochures to over 22,000 households and businesses in the consultation area.
We understand that not everyone can access the internet and not everyone with internet access wants to respond online. With that in mind we are very happy to post hard copies of the consultation survey to people on request. If you, or someone you know, would like a printed copy of the survey please contact us by telephone on 01223 699906 and we will put a copy in the post to the address you give us.
Where will the funding come from?
The project will be funded by the Greater Cambridge Partnership through the City Deal monies it receives from central government. However, the rail option (Option B3) would be subject to funding from external bodies including Network Rail.
I live in east Cambridge. Do you want to hear from me or just from people who travel into the city?
We want to hear from anyone who has an interest in the proposals. Whether you live in, work in, travel to or from, or have a commercial interest in the area, we want to hear from you.
Will the study look at a new eastern entrance to Cambridge Station?
We have thought about the potential for a new eastern entrance to the main railway station in Cambridge.
This change is best considered as part of wider improvements to the station area that are currently under development, such as the extra platforms needed for East-West Rail and a new interchange with the CAM network.
We are supportive of the need to make sure people can access Cambridge station, but this is best led by Network Rail. As the owner of the station they can bring all the different ideas together into a single plan for the station for the benefit of all.
As the Cambridge Eastern Access project moves forward we will continue to liaise with Network Rail and work with them.
Why is moving the Park & Ride site to Quy not being looked at as an option?
We have looked at this but there are two issues which cannot be resolved easily.
Firstly, traffic approaches Newmarket Road from a number of directions including the north and east.
Relocating the Park & Ride site to Quy would mean that much of the traffic, including the Park & Ride buses, would need to go through the Quy interchange.
This would make the Quy interchange more congested, not less.
The second challenge is that there is not an obvious place to put a Park & Ride site in Quy, with any location likely to be in the Green Belt.
The site we have proposed next to Airport Way and the Marshall’s site may have less impact on the Green Belt than a site to the north of the A14 near Quy.
Why is the Eastern Access project in two phases?
It has been widely reported that Marshall’s are looking to relocate their business away from Cambridge Airport.
The airport site was also safeguarded in the 2018 Local Plan and has been proposed for development in response to the Call for Sites for the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan.
The future of the site will have a significant impact on east Cambridge.
Given the uncertainty we have decided to show the options in two phases: those that can be delivered in the shorter term and those that would take longer to deliver:
What allowance have you made to electric and autonomous vehicles?
Electric vehicles are already with us and are very similar to existing vehicles. As their range and number of charging points increase, they are likely to become widespread.
We have long been clear that we are committed to the use of electric zero-emission vehicles in our public transport schemes, and that our proposed schemes are designed to be flexible so they can adapt as technology advances.
Replacing petrol and diesel cars with electric cars would do nothing to improve congestion. There is a risk that as electric vehicles are considered to be clean, people may choose to drive more and create increased congestion.
The GCP schemes are intended to promote alternatives to use of cars, electric or conventional to reduce congestion in and around Cambridge.
The future for autonomous vehicles is less clear.
Driver aids are becoming ever more common and GCP is supporting trials of fully autonomous vehicles.
However, the timescale by which such vehicles would be freely operating in Cambridge is not at all clear but is likely to be some way off.
In any event, as with electric vehicles, there is a need to promote alternatives to the use of cars as public transport, walking and cycling are less likely to cause congestion.