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Light rail link from Haverhill to Cambridge has not been discounted, says the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority




Concerns raised by Rail Haverhill that light rail had been ruled out for the proposed Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) linking Haverhill to Cambridge have been allayed.

Rail Haverhill chairman Marcus Field-Rayner raised the concerns after seeing a presentation at Haverhill Arts Centre last Thursday for the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s (GCP) Cambridge South East Transport – Better Public Transport Project, which forms part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s CAM scheme.

He feared that it had already been decided that electric, rubber-tyred tram-like buses would be used.

Cambridge Metro Visualisation
Cambridge Metro Visualisation

Mr Field-Rayner said: “The inclusion of the bendy bus system as part of this presentation appears as a fait accompli. This is something that Rail Haverhill cannot except.”

He also said that choosing to go with tram-like vehicles would raise a number of questions for Rail Haverhill.

Namely:

- Are the proposals, both in terms of routes and the type of vehicle proposed, totally independent of the road system

- Has the true overall cost of this system been clearly established?

- Has it been fairly compared with a Light Rail system?

- Is such a system both economically and operationally viable; particularly for tunnel running sections?

- What operational examples exist in the UK

- Is it operationally more vulnerable due to the level of electronic protective and control systems involved

- Is it more dangerous

- Is it more expensive to maintain than Light Rail

- Has it the range and reliability required if only using battery power

- Is it more durable in adverse weather conditions.

- Is it more polluting due to rubber tyre wear and subsequent atmospheric release

- How does the life of the 'Rolling Road' compared with that of a rail system

- Speed of rolling surface repair

- Are there more manufacturer options with proven operational experience in the UK and elsewhere?

- Is it likely to attract the required level of financial support

A Combined Authority spokesman said: “The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is currently working on the Outline Business Case (OBC) for phase 1 of the CAM, which includes the route between Cambridge and Granta Park.

“The phase 2 of the scheme will see the route extend from Granta Park to Haverhill.

“The Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC), worked on by leading engineers for 12 months, identified that very frequent ‘turn up and go’ service, using a trackless, battery powered, low-floor tram-like vehicle would be the transport mode which offered the best, most affordable solution. The SOBC, published in March 2019, also compared various systems, including light rail.

“The current OBC will develop further the SOBC including reviewing the work on alternative options, different transport modes and exploring them in more detail.

“No decisions will be taken without thorough testing and evidence.

“Various appropriate vehicle types which are compatible with the various engineering options are also being considered as part of the OBC work.”



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