Network Rail are currently consulting on three location options for Cambridge South station, which will serve the Biomedical Campus, home to Addenbrooke’s, Royal Papworth and Rosie hospitals, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Abcam, and several teaching/research institutes. Joining them over the next five years will be new children’s and cancer hospitals.
The campus’s total travel demand is enormous, forecast to exceed 67,000 visits each weekday within ten years. That equates to over 35 million people-movements a year – more than through Stansted Airport.
The roads feeding the Campus are at capacity at peak times from all directions. Building more car parks on the site will only exacerbate congestion and delays to ambulances. Therefore, all future growth in travel demand has to be met by active and public transport. That means, for every additional trip onto the site, either that person or someone who currently drives has to walk, cycle or take the bus or train.
Rail is the only available transport mode that can efficiently move the tens of thousands of people an hour required at peak times, so the need for a new station is beyond doubt. Questions include the exact location and design for access by walking, cycling, bus, taxi and private car.
Perhaps the best option would be to build the station above the railway line (as at Stevenage) and rebuild the Guided Busway Bridge as an integrated transport interchange at the entrance, with bus stops immediately outside, plenty of space for cycling and walking without conflict, and stacks of cycle parking both sides of the railway line (serving people arriving from Trumpington, Queen Edith’s and beyond, as well as people working in the area). This is what the Dutch would do.
Until the new station opens, we need further improvements to the bus link from Cambridge station: rail operators need to sell individual and season tickets that include a bus to the Campus at only a small premium; the bus service needs to be at least every 10 minutes from 6am to 11pm; and buses to the Campus should leave from a clearly marked stop closer to the station entrance.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 29 January 2020.