Rail Haverhill calls for support to make sure light rail hopes do not disappear
The group campaigning to have a rail link connecting Haverhill and Cambridge has called on the public and council representatives to throw their support behind its cause before it is too late.
Rail Haverhill has been lobbying for the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM) network to include a light rail connection for the section linking it to Haverhill.
But recent developments have led Rail Haverhill to conclude that the organisation responsible for delivering the CAM scheme, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) has opted for a rubber-tyred bus as its preferred vehicle and not light rail.
Marcus Field-Rayner, Rail Haverhill chairman,said: “Their choice has been made despite experience with The Cambridge Guided Bus and flies in the face of being in receipt of evidence comfirming the advantages of a light rail system.
“To add insult to injury, there has been Mayor Palmer’s announcement of both the CPCA and GCP’s approval to move to the forthcoming Public Consultation on the Metro Network.
“Contained in this announcement is the following statement, ‘The Consultation will not invite feedback on elements of the Cambridge Automated Metro (CAM) already under development by the GCP.
“In other words the whole metro system will be based on rubber-tyred buses, ‘full stop’.
“Rail Haverhill believe that this is not ‘the end of the line’ so to say, for light rail and will continue to contest the issue.
“In the meantime, Haverhill Town Council, together with councils along the route have been approached to encourage them to support a light rail solution and to do so by lobbying (CPCA) Mayor James Palmer, his advisors and Matt Hancock MP.
“The cry is ‘to step back from the brink’ before it is too late.
Now also is the time for Haverhill residents to also do the same, by writing direct to the mayor at his Ely office and to Matt Hancock MP at Westminster, supporting a change of heart to the light rail option.
“Rail Haverhill’s advice is to do it now before all hope of a change of heart by the two authorities has gone for ever.”
In response to Mr Field-Rayner’s concerns, the CPCA said: “The CAM will be a single mode transport network and is forecast to be a technologically advanced electric, highly flexible, trackless vehicle connecting St Neots, Alconbury Weald, Mildenhall and Haverhill via dedicated routes and tunnels under Cambridge. The public consultation on the next stage of the project (the Outline Business Case) initially planned for last week will now take place at a later date.
“The Combined Authority have corresponded with Mr Field-Rayner on this issue; his support for light rail is well known, and we disagree with many of his claims.
“In the previous Strategic Outline Business Case for the CAM, light rail was determined to have a distinct disadvantage over other modes, due to the inflexibility of the system, significant capital costs and land take and additional vibration and noise issues.
“The mayor is concerned that a railed system lacks the flexibility to adapt to future transport needs and would fail to provide the smart, clean, cross-county transport solution that we need and the mayor is determined to deliver.
“As part of OBC process we will explore all the relevant mode technologies and will make a recommendation on the preferred of technology in due course. No decision has yet been made regarding this.”
More by this authorSteve Barton