Transport thoughts

[This discussion thread was started by Jim Chisholm on 21st November; copied here.]

—–Original Message—– From: Jim Chisholm
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:32 PM
Subject: Neigbourhood Plan:Transport

There were a number of issues that were raised at the initial meeting in the Memorial Hall that need expanding and clarifying. Some of these a Neighbourhood Plan may help control and for others we may just be able to influence.

Shelford Station (Rail):

Parking is an issue, both for those very local who are concerned about obstructive parking, and those who would like to be able to park nearby as part of a multi-mode trip. Better, more, and secure CCTV covered cycle parking would help.
Recent and planed increases in service on this line do not help as we still only have hourly services outside the peak. The increase of ‘barrier down’ time due to more ‘express’ services makes it very difficult to predict how early one must arrive to catch a train and is causing increased road congestion (‘Blocking back’ to Freestones Corner and on Granham’s Road obstructing A1301 traffic).

This is the only station between Liverpool St and Cambridge without a footbridge. I’ve heard rumours of a complete closure of the level crossing. I’ve now been given an email within Network Rail of someone you may be able to give clarification. I’ve suggested in the past that moving the London bound platform S of station road would reduce ‘barrier down time’. That would only be likely to happen if all stations on the line were extended to take 12 coach trains. Such a change would mean that barriers could rise once a train arrived in a platform, not only reducing delays to motor traffic but giving a good chance of catching a London bound train if the barriers are down when you arrive, if you are quick!

(and I’ve another heading ‘Park and Ride’…)

We are lucky in that, unlike many villages in SCambs, we still have a frequent bus service from early morning to late at night. That means that those without access to a car can get
to work, shop, leisure, or appointments (and back!). This particularly affects the young, the old, and the poorest. {Some 25% of those in the lowest 20% of household incomes in East Anglia have no access to a car or van.}
Fares have risen at a time when motoring costs have fallen, and reliability is poor especially when congestion occurs. This disproportionally affect the poor and young who are more likely to less money and be in jobs/education where ‘lateness’ is less tolerated.
The journey time is poor because the buses do a ‘Grand Tour’ of Addenbrookes and are also delayed by boarding and alighting of passengers (customers?) whose trips are ‘within’ Cambridge (eg from City Centre to Railway Station) despite there being numbers of buses that just do ‘internal’ to Cambridge trips)
We have significant numbers of buses/coaches (at peak times more than the number of public service buses) that pass through the village but are ‘private’. These include those servicing the Genome Campus, but are not available for local use even on ‘return trips where they are largely empty.
If the buses through our villages were to use the Cambridge Guided Bus (CGB) route (join in Gt Kneighton?) and the ‘soon to be constructed’ bus turning point near the Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre (ATC) the trip time to the City Centre could be halved.  I’ve talked to StageCoach about this, but such a service would require single deck vehicles (max load about 70% of double decker) and Stagecoach pay a ‘toll’ for every bus that uses the CGB.
Such a drop off point at ATC would be great for many, especially staff, but could be an issue for those with mobility issues accessing ‘Outpatient Clinics’ although there is a mini bus that does ‘circuits’ of the site. As the No7 is a ‘commercial’ service Stagecoach need convincing of the economic advantages of such a change in service.
If the private coaches that serve the Genome Campus, Granta Park could be integrated into a public service, it would have advantages for all. {I’ve heard that Genome Campus pays some £40K for taxis for those who normally use the coach but need to work out of normal hours or otherwise travel when the coach does not run} There are tax advantages for a private coach service, which makes giving staff a travel pass for a service bus less economic!

Divide buses into ‘Citi’ and ‘Countri’ buses with separate ‘flat’ fares with no cash handling. I heard at one stage that Cambus lost more drivers because they couldn’t cope with handling cash than those who couldn’t handle driving! Limited stops for Countri Buses in Cambridge.
I’ve heard that StageCoach are considering a ‘3 zone’ flat fare, but that does not enable the single smartcard ‘swipe’ that you get with a system such as that in London.
If you board a ‘Countri’ bus for a trip from City Centre to the station you pay the higher flat as a discouragement to delay longer distance bus passengers!

Park & Ride

The Park and Ride (P&R) service in Cambridge is considered by most to be a ‘success’, but there are dis-benefits.
Firstly it ‘abstracts’ many trips from village bus services which then become less profitable or even cease. {For one studied P&R in Bristol some 40% of users had previously used an unsubsidised service bus for all of their trip, but were now driving to a P&R site built and operated at public expense} For the Babraham P&R site I believe the figure was some 15% previously used a service bus for all of their trip.

This also results in higher levels of private car traffic to and through our Necklace Villages as people abandon their local service bus and drive to the P&R.
Especially during the middle of the day there are many P&R buses with few passengers clogging up City Streets.
Several of the Cambridge Sites were built on Green Belt land, despite Government Guidance (it was only ‘Guidance’…) saying that if built on Green Belt land an equivalent no of parking spaces should be removed from the City. (That could have included ‘workplace parking’ or free on-street commuter parking on residential streets, not necessary ‘paid spaces’ in the City Centre)
Congestion on the approaches to our P&R sites is now a serious issue, and delays service buses!
But P&R can have advantages if they are located further out and such buses also have limited stop pick-ups at appropriate locations. Having new P&Rs near Whittlesford station and Four Wentways could catch the longer car trips before they reach the congested outskirts of Cambridge. An ‘interchange’ could also be a focal point for a community bus serving villages or hamlets likely to loose current little used ‘supported’ bus services.
Good secure and covered cycle parking would mean cycling a few miles to the P&R would be viable.

Goods vehicles:

I’m told (but need evidence) that the amount of traffic on the A1301 is now greater than before the M11 was opened! Reducing private car travel is needed, but commercial traffic needs controlling. There is a ‘4th power axle damage rule’. That means that a 10 tonne axle load of an HGV does as much damage as 10,000 large family cars (or a million pedal cycles!)
Regulations are available to restrict large vehicles (I worked on helping monitor some early schemes following changes in the law some 40 years ago). The cost of road repairs is huge,as only motorways and other strategic roads are built for large volumes of heavy traffic. Such restrictions are difficult to enforce, and the increasing use by HGVs of Sat-Navs designs for private car use has lead to difficulties with HGVs using unsuitable roads and streets.
Now that Welche’s has moved, an ‘except for access’ restriction between the Northern end of the Sawston By-pass should be workable. Places such as Travis Perkins, Shelford Energy, and Scotsdales would be unaffected (permitted access), but through HGVs vehicle would need to use A505 and M11. 16 tonnes would be a suitable limit as all such vehicle would have 3 or more axles and hence checking and enforcement is easier.

Much concern has been expressed about parking, both on the road where it restricts visibility or causes congestion, such as with 10m of junctions, and on the footway where it not only causes damage but also means that pedestrians, especially the disabled or those with children are forced to walk in the road.

The Highway Code is clear that you ‘should’ not do neither, but unless there are yellow lines or by-laws, neither is illegal! (Except for HGVs stopping on the footway).

If the footway is ‘obstructed’ the police can charge for obstruction, but I’m told they are reluctant to charge as they often loose contested case with much waste of police time.
Parking on the footway is illegal in London (unless there are notices specifically permitting it) but a private members ‘Pavement Parking Bill’  was debated in the Commons last year but was talked out by the DfT saying ‘more evidence’ needed to be gathered.

Speed limits:

There have been some minor reductions in limits on the ‘fringes’ of the villages.

Cambridge now has 20mph limits on all ‘streets’ with only a few roads other than the main ‘A roads’ that provide through links remaining at 30mph. There have been a number of studies of crashes and speed in areas with 20mph limits. I do not think the Cambridge ones have been in long enough for a proper evaluation. In Portsmouth the ‘popular’ press ridiculed the overall results of a study as speeds had only reduced by a very small amount. The majority of streets in the area already had average speeds well below 20mph. The crucial thing is for those streets with average speeds above 20 in the ‘before’ situation how much has speed reduced. The under reporting of minor injury crashes and the fortunately low level of serious ones make statistical work on crash data difficult.
It is unlikely that the County would permit a limit lower than 30 on the A1301, but all streets that are currently 30, with the except of of parts of Hinton Road would have been made 20 using the City Council guidelines.
Research suggests that the young and the old have difficulty judging speed. Excessive (over the limit) or just inappropriate speed puts such groups at high risk. We should not have streets where many parents are reluctant to allow a 10 year old out unaccompanied or that pensioners feel unsafe walking to a local shop.

The guidance on enforcement changed ages ago but many police officers quote the old rules.
There was an anomaly in that National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS)Courses were not available for those exceeding 20mph limits and they could only be given points whereas those exceeding other limits could avoid points by attending such courses. Even that has changed.

There should also be an opportunity to reduce to 40 some roads with the national ’60’ limit.

It seems daft that an A road has a 50 limit for safety reasons, yet an adjacent minor road has a 60 limit when it often has poor visibility, poor surface, narrow verges, no alternative route for those walking and cycling, and may be the only way to access schools, shops or the bus.
National Guidelines permit such reduced limits where there are significant numbers of vulnerable users (those on foot, bike or horse).

Reducing speed limits is necessarily a bureaucratic process.  The public must be consulted, then Traffic Regulation Orders drawn up and advertised, and if there are objections it must go through a County Council Committee. The administrative costs are almost independent of the number of roads or streets. Putting up the signs is cheap in comparison. Hence it is better to do all suggested roads and streets in a single go, probably together with any changes in parking/waiting/load restrictions for which bureaucracy also rules.


The provision of such routes as the Addenbrooke’s (Stripey Path), the Coton Path, those alongside the Guided Busway have lead to very significant increases in cycling from Necklace Villages to Cambridge. These paths are generally such that those less confident in busy traffic, and especially those new to cycling, can have pleasant, safe and reliable trips. The utter reliabilty of trip times when cycling (and walking) means they are often quicker than private car on trips of 5 miles.
“I can stay in bed longer if catching a peak hour Kings Cross train from Cambridge if I cycle, than if I drove!”

Such routes enable the young and the old to travel independently, and those who commute by bike can easily fit their regular exercise into a daily routine, without the need for expensive gym membership. Having one member of a family able to commute in part or whole by bike can mean huge savings if the family can then manage with a singe car.

The County has just published a report: “Cambridge Area Greenways Review”

Appendices 7 and 8 cover details of routes to Sawston and Linton.
Sustrans already has a licence to create a cycling and walking route alongside the railway S from Shelford station and under London Road as far as the edge of Wedd’s land. This was negotiated at the time the route was built to Addenbrooke’s over 10 years ago, but the onward potential could not be realised. A route continuing alongside the railway to the ‘Agricultural Reservoir’ could enable a route that avoided the difficulties of Mingle Lane/Church St, the bit by the SPAR, and the very narrow path along London Rd.
Such a path would give good benefits to those in many in the new housing on the Welche’s site. Both the station and ‘open’ countryside would be within an easy walk on motor traffic free paths.
There is also the proposal for a path following roughly the old Haverhill railway. This would connect with the new Cambridge Football ground, proposed extra housing of Babraham Rd Sawston, the Babraham Institute, and with a path ‘under’ the All/A505 adjacent to the River Granta (there is room within existing river bridge) as far as the Abingtons and Granta Park


We could make Shelford and Stapleford a much nicer place to walk and cycle, and make it easier and quicker to use public transport, be that train to London or bus to Cambridge.
Too much traffic on the A1301 makes the footways (pavements) unpleasant and some feel safer cycling illegally on footways as they fear the heavy traffic. Home Office Guidelines say that people cycling in a responsible manner on a footway should not be ticketed if the road is clearly intimidating. The solution is to reduce the volume and speed of traffic until the road is safe.
We don’t need to ban cars just make it easier and safer to move by other modes hence reducing traffic and parking.

I know that, this being (almost) Cambridge when you write or speak, someone will pop up who knows more than you, but that is better than being in the land of the blind where the one eyed man is king!

There are few things that have an easy right answer. Often the obvious solution does not work when you look at all the consequences.

I hope this starts a discussion, and I’ll be very worried if no one disagrees with any of the above.

I was going to create a list of URLs and references, but that would create a further delay..

It will follow.

I’ve also some spreadsheets with data a extracted from the 2011 census. These show the destinations of travel to work trips of those in and around Cambridge by mode.
They will follow if people express an interest.

4 comments on “Transport thoughts
  1. miranda says:

    [Jim Rickard’s reply copied here]

    –On 22 Nov 2016 14:20, Jim Rickard wrote:

    Jim and other sub-group members

    I hesitated before clicking on “reply to all”, as this is a long e-mail, but it may help to avoid duplication. I think I have to make the general point that not all the topics strictly belong in a neighbourhood plan as I understand it, but I think it’s valid and useful for our group to discuss them.

    In the same order as your mail:


    A missed opportunity to use the Railway Tavern site for parking, but that’s spilt milk. Agree with your points about barrier down time; a footbridge would mitigate this for pedestrians and would remove the need to allow extra minutes for catching a train because you don’t know if you’ll be trapped the wrong side of the barrier. Would like to see more services calling at Shelford, for example at least one of the two tph each way to and from Stansted. Platform extension to take 12 coaches would help secure the station’s future: we risk being squeezed out when (if) a new station at Addenbrooke’s is built. Would also urge four-tracking from Shepreth Branch Junction to Cambridge station with two island platforms for the Addenbrooke’s station: concerned that this will be done on the cheap without extra track capacity which will then be harder to install in the future. Grade separation at Shepreth Branch Junction would be ideal but probably not defensible on cost grounds. Moving the London-bound platform S of Station Road would indeed help the barrier problem as you say, but might block the potential Sustrans route alongside the line southwards from the station, using the trackbed of the former Haverhill line, that you identify under “cycling”. There is a meeting at Sawston Village College on 19 December organised by Railfuture East Anglia with a view to forming a Rail Users Group for Shelford, which I’m intending to attend. I think this is useful because such a group could lobby more effectively than individuals on other issues at the station: waiting room door inoperative, announcements inaudible, train indicators not working, and so on.


    I can’t agree with you that we have a “frequent bus service from early morning to late at night”. Once you’ve waited in Emmanuel St for one of the once-an-hour evening buses, seen it disappear off the indicator and still not turn up, been told by another intending passenger that it didn’t turn up a few days previously either, and finally after waiting another 20 minutes in the cold ended up with an expensive taxi ride home, you don’t risk it twice. If my wife and I go into Cambridge for the evening, we drive, even though I’d rather not. And on Sundays the last bus leaves Emmanuel St at 1820, hardly “late at night”.
    Totally agree with you about the circuitous and time-consuming route into Cambridge. I’ve asked Stagecoach to consider stopping the Trumpington Park and Ride buses at the Maris Lane stop, so that you could at least change from a citi 7 to a park and ride bus for the rest of the journey into town (a scheduled 9 minute journey as opposed to 31 minutes off-peak on the citi 7), but to no avail.
    Also agree with your suggestions of part-use of the guided busway and of de-privatising the buses which serve Granta Park and the Genome Campus.
    The dwell times at stops are often far too long. Contributory factors are Stagecoach’s slowness in adopting anything like an Oyster card, and the total absence at bus stops of any information about fares. This is a particular difficulty in an area like Cambridge with a lot of visitors: it affects the citi 7 at stops like the station and the one by the campsite on Shelford Road. There’s nothing to tell people even what kind of tickets are available, let alone how much they cost, and by the time the driver has explained what’s a single, a return, a Dayrider, a Dayrider Plus and a Megarider, I’ve lost the will to live.

    Park and Ride

    Agree with the gist of your comments. I know people in Great Shelford who drive to the Trumpington P + R and get the P + R bus rather than using the citi 7, probably for the reasons above. I also know a Sawston man whose mode of getting into central Cambridge is to drive and park free in the side roads off Hills Road, from where he has the choice of a 1, 7, 13 or U bus into town. Both these examples are car journeys that shouldn’t need to be made.

    Goods vehicles

    Only comment is that I don’t see many HGVs in Tunwells Lane that I would identify as just passing through. Most seem to have a connection with local shops, businesses or building sites. May be a non-problem here.


    A work in progress as far as Great Shelford is concerned: as you probably know there have been meetings about this and my understanding is that we’re waiting for various bits of yellow line, pavement protrusions and a zebra crossing to take shape. Personally I find the parking along Great Shelford High St difficult as a cyclist: I’m always fearful of getting squashed along there. I would favour residents’ parking bays recessed into the (ample) grass verge, but I’m sure others will disagree: it might even (shock horror) improve traffic flow.
    There is a link here with the “village amenities and infrastructure” sub-group. One of my beefs in Great Shelford is that we’ve spent money building a pavilion, which is closed for around 90% of the week. Children (and accompanying adults) using the recreation ground can’t even access its toilets. I would have demolished the Memorial Hall – hardly an architectural wonder – and erected a building which combined the functions of pavilion and village hall. With a bit of joined-up thinking, it could even have been home to the Library – a real focal point for a village centre. The relevance of this is that the Memorial Hall car park could then have been extended to cover the site of the demolished hall. Parking is also a consideration if ever the medical centre / Rayments garage and field is reworked.

    Speed limits (and roads in general)

    I’m not in favour of generalised 20 mph limits. As an aside, there’s nothing magic about numbers of miles per hour which are a multiple of 10: the USA use odd and even multiples of 5, as do Network Rail, and if we used kilometres, the intervals would be different again. A car moving at 20 mph will take 50% longer to cover a given distance than one moving at 30 mph: it will occupy the road space for 50% longer and its engine will be running 50% longer and probably in a lower gear.
    I am in favour of improving road capacity and traffic flow. I don’t subscribe to the argument that says traffic volume will increase to saturate any new road capacity. Yes it will to a certain extent, and that’s a measure of the latent demand, but people don’t make journeys for the sake of making them: they want to get to a place of work, or visit a customer, or deliver goods, or whatever. Thus I am in favour, for example, of building the long-mooted orbital road around the south and east of Cambridge as proposed by Cambridge Futures (cut-and-pasted text follows)

    an orbital road around
    Cambridge with link roads running parallel to
    the A14 and M11 to cater for local traffic, and
    tunnels under Shelford and the hills south of the
    city to reduce its environmental impact.

    Traffic flow example: no-one I’ve spoken to can see the logic of the traffic light phasing at the Addenbrooke’s Road / Shelford Road junction, and why northbound and southbound traffic on Shelford Road can’t proceed at the same time. This is outside our parish area but like many other things affects our movements in and out of our area and the delays at this junction probably contribute to the traffic levels along High St and the infamous Church St in Great Shelford.


    I wouldn’t presume to comment…

    What about the walkers !

    You don’t mention pedestrians. I think we could agree that leisure walking, or rambling, belongs with the “green belt” sub-group, but I have a specific issue highlighted by the recent rain. Most of the pavements around here have an asphalt (or similar) surface, rather than flagstones or block paving. This is fine as regards the absence of joins, but nigh-on useless for drainage. The surface subsides and puddles form, sometimes across the full width of the pavement: exciting for small children in Wellington boots but a damn nuisance if you’re just walking to the Co-op or the bus stop. I don’t know what can be done about existing pavements, but I would like to see a planning requirement that these surfaces are avoided in new developments and any reworking of an area unless they can be made much more permeable.

    My thanks to anyone who’s read this far.


    Jim Rickard

  2. miranda says:

    [my reply on 23rd November copied here]

    Hello all and thanks to both Jims for your comprehensive thoughts.

    I agree with Jim R about the inadequacy of the Citi 7 in most circumstances for getting into and out of Cambridge.

    Thanks for bringing up pedestrians too – this is a transport mode that must not be forgotten especially for within village journeys (here I am reading your emails in the Deli, having walked into Shelford for a batch of chores today). If we can ensure that all pedestrian routes are complete and pleasant/safe to use, then one would hope we can also reduce a lot of village-internal car journeys (eg to school, to Pilates classes, etc?)

    I’m quite concerned that the current incarnation of the 31 bus is losing custom and destined to be axed soon. I don’t know what we might be able to do about this within the context of the neighbourhood plan? When it went all the way to Drummer Street and back throughout the day it was a godsend, but now it’s barely any use at all.

    Interested to hear what others think too.

    Miranda Fyfe.

  3. Lynda Warth says:

    Jim (Rickard) is correct to highlight the overlap between the Countryside Access Group and the Transport Group. Jim Chisholm’s exclusion of other vulnerable users in his transport report is discriminatory and needs to be corrected from the outset by liaison between the groups. The Greenways report also fails to represent all users and has not been universally well received. Pedestrians and equestrians both need to be included in all new ‘transport’ plans unless there is good reason to exclude them – and that decision needs to be made by the relevant representative body i.e. the Ramblers and the BHS – not the Cyclists. Opportunities which can benefit maximum users are what we should aim for.

  4. Stephen Sutherland says:

    What rubbish Lynda Warth speaks, nothing helpful. The Chisholm trail is for all to use it. Use a horse if you choose, but I prefer a bike or walking.

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