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Travelling the Busway blog

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These pages have set out a low-risk, costed strategy for reinstating and operating the Cambridge Huntingdon railway. They propose a phased reinstatement plan.

Stage 1A is a pilot system, during construction of Stage 1B, and will establish and demonstrate an operating CAST.IRON railway. The construction cost for Stage 1A is £7 million, including contingencies and design costs. A further £3 million should be allowed for other expenses of setting up Stage 1A - for example, land purchase/leasing and costs associated with obtaining running powers.

Stage 1A requires 1,300 two-way daily passengers during peak hours for self-sustaining operation. Stage 1A will appeal to commuters living along the route from Histon to Swavesey, particularly those travelling to the Science Park and other nearby business parks, Cambridge Regional College and the Histon Vision Park. Connecting buses will further increase the appeal, while the developments at Northstowe and Arbury Camps provide both additional passenger numbers plus freight opportunities associated with the construction works.

Stage 1B will be sustained by 1,900 two-way daily peak hour passengers. In 1994, Cambridgeshire County Council anticipated 3,500 passengers per day for a railway running as far as St Ives. This pre-dates plans for Northstowe. Since this forecast, there have also been 10 years of increasing traffic on the A14. Stage 1B will attract much more bi-directional traffic than Stage 1A during peak hours. Much higher off-peak demand is also anticipated, as well as use by longer distance business travellers. CAST.IRON will operate railcars on off-peak services, for low marginal operating costs.

Stage 2 will be sustained by 2,100 two-way daily peak hour passengers. This is to be compared with the CHUMMS forecast uptake of 10,000 two-way journeys per day on a heavy rail system. The rail system is expected to complement use of bus services on existing roads. Note that this is not the case for the recommended CHUMMS option, in which a significant proportion of guided bus passengers would be transferred from existing bus services, thus threatening the frequency and viability of these services. At the same time, all of the guided buses would be slowed down by and add to traffic congestion at both ends of the guideway.

The commencement date for construction of Stage 2 will depend, amongst other things, on the exact details of the route and on the date when the A14 becomes de-trunked. Until Stage 2 construction is complete, the Stage 1B network will operate as a self-sustaining system and it will produce a significant improvement for commuter travel, particularly easing the congestion in Cambridge city centre.

The case for building a railway system, to complement other public transport services, is clear.

Site last modified December 2018