Fastway (guided busway)

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway is a guided bus system under construction in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. At long, the scheme will be the longest in the world. Construction started in March 2007 and is expected to finish in 2009.

Overview

The scheme will link the city of Cambridge, in East Anglia, with satellite towns and villages to the north west, and the M11 motorway to the south. The northern section will link Cambridge with a proposed 10,000-home new town, Northstowe, and to the towns of St Ives and Huntingdon. It is estimated that 11,500 journeys a day will be made on the guideway.

The scheme is predicted to cause a direct reduction in traffic on the busy parallel A14 road of 5.6% (rising to 11.1% with the new Park & Ride sites), although as other traffic re-routes to the freed-up road space from other parts of the local road network, the actual net reduction on the A14 is predicted to be 2.3%. The overall scheme is "not intended to solve the congestion problems on the A14" by itself, but will rather have an overall effect across the local road network, and be complementary to the planned road improvements on the A14.

The project is budgeted to cost £116.2 million..

The scheme comprises two sections of guided operation, together with sections of on-street running in bus lanes, and a bus-only road. Guidance is achieved through the guidewheel-on-concrete-kerb method, with the guideway being constructed from pre-cast concrete sections that are long and wide..

In addition to the guideway, two new park and ride sites, served by the scheme, will be built at Longstanton and St Ives. The scheme will include traffic signal bus priority and real time travel information displays at guideway 'stations'.

As with all other UK busway schemes in the privatised bus industry, Cambridgeshire County Council owns the infrastructure, and will allow private bus operators to use it on their registered services, subject to quality contracts specifying vehicle and service standards.

Controversy

A public inquiry was held in to the plans for the project, attracting more than 3,000 letters, of which 2,735 were objections. Objectors included many of the local councils, public bodies, transport interests, local pressure groups and individuals. Objections covered the Environmental Impact Assessment, support for the rail alternative and objections to the scheme in principle.

The cost benefit ratio of the scheme has been variously assessed as 4.84, 2.28 (1998 prices) and 1.968, (a higher ratio is better), with the cost rising from an initial estimate of £54million.

Route

The main guideway section of the route is to the north of Cambridge, with ten stops in all (inc. four in Cambridge). Starting from two locations in the city centre, it then merges on the outskirts of the city, and follows the path of the former Cambridge and Huntingdon railway, to a new park and ride site south of St Ives. From therem the scheme continues unguided through St. Ives town centre, and on to Huntingdon, where it will stop at the town centre, the railway station and Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

The short southern part of the scheme is formed entirely by the second length of guideway. This three-stop section starts from Cambridge railway station, terminating at Trumpington park and ride to the south (near junction 11 of the M11 motorway). A spur links the busway to Addenbrooke's Hospital in the middle of the section.

The northern and southern sections are connected by on-street running through Cambridge city centre, with two alternate routes connecting with the two start points of the northern guideway.

Progress

As of March 2008, of the guideway had been constructed, and different types of buses were being tested on it, from which a preferred type would be selected. The vehicles tested included a Wrightbus-bodied single-decker owned by FirstGroup, a Plaxton President-bodied Dennis Trident 2 double-decker from Lothian Buses, and a white Alexander Dennis Enviro500 triple-axled double-decker. The vehicles were fitted with sensors to assess vibration levels and the ride quality, with an expectation that passengers will be able to read, or use laptop computers, while being transported on the guideway.

See also

External links

References

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