A guided bus travels underneath the A14 between Histon and Milton New train stations, busways and cycle routes have been proposed to stop Cambridgeshire grinding to a halt as its population soars. With a fresh study confirming that 72,500 extra homes will be needed across the county within the next two decades, transport experts have issued a warning that journeys could take 75 per cent longer by 2031 if drastic action is not taken to encourage people to get out of their cars. Among the improvements recommended by the county council are new railway stations at Addenbrooke s, Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn, dualling and rerouting of the A428 between Caxton Gibbet and the Black Cat roundabout, and the reopening of rail routes from Cambridge to Haverhill and Bedford.
Other options include construction of a busway adjacent to the A1307 between Cambridge and Haverhill, a new park and ride site in Hauxton, and a network of direct cycle routes to Cambridge from Ely, Royston and St Neots. These are longer term plans, up to 2050, but the council says urgent investment is needed in the short term too, before 2021. On top of projects which have already been announced, including the A14 upgrade, the council wants to extend the existing cycleway between Cambridge and St Ives to Huntingdon, build a park and ride site in St Neots, and ensure new train services from Cambridge to Brighton and Gatwick airport are introduced.
Other proposals include giving buses and cyclists priority on more city roads, extending platforms at train stations around the county so they can take longer trains, and creating interchanges in villages which link local transport into major services. Dearbhla Lawson, the council s head of transport and infrastructure policy, said: Cambridgeshire is the fastest growing county in the country and is at the forefront of helping boost the UK economy. It is vital that transport facilities keep up with this growth to make sure the county remains prosperous and continues to attract business and jobs.
What is clear is that doing nothing is not an option with freight traffic alone predicted to quadruple by 2030. The report the council s draft long-term transport strategy was presented to councillors alongside an assessment of housing need which said 14,000 homes would be needed in Cambridge alone by 2031. South Cambridgeshire needs 19,000, while the figures for East Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire are 13,000 and 17,000 respectively.
Other long-term options include a new ring road to the south of Cambridge, widening the A10, building a St Ives northern bypass, constructing a new park and ride site near Cambourne, and allowing cars to drive along the hard shoulder of the M11. Feedback will be sought from councillors before the plans are finalised, and funding for many of the projects is yet to be identified. Ms Lawson added: This is a draft strategy setting out some of the more strategic planned works and initial ideas for managing the growth in the county, with the aim to keep Cambridgeshire moving.
It sets out initial proposals and aspirations for the longer term transport improvements to support sustainable development and continued economic prosperity.
We are working with local authority partners across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to develop these proposals.
1 May 2013 Last updated at 02:32 ET By Paul Scoins Political reporter, BBC Three Counties All 77 seats on Hertfordshire County Council are up for election Concerns over plans for a 300m rail freight depot in Hertfordshire have been raised in the run-up to this week s local elections. All 77 seats on Hertfordshire County Council are up for election on Thursday 2 May. At dissolution, the authority was made up of 55 Conservative councillors, 17 Liberal Democrats, three Labour members, one English Democrat and one Green Party member.
The Tories have been in control for 12 years now, and the leader Robert Gordon has been in charge since 2007. One of the big issues of public debate is the decision by the government to approve plans for the rail freight terminal at the Radlett Airfield site near St Albans. The plans were originally refused by St Albans council in 2009.
Developer HelioSlough Ltd said its plans followed government policies to transport goods by rail and the terminal was needed to serve south-east England. Following two appeals Secretary of State Eric Pickles, of the department of communities and local government (DCLG), said in September last year he was considering looking at the plans for the Radlett development. Forcing decision He asked for the views of the council and other interested parties on the proposed approach, but on 14 December decided he could determine the Radlett proposal on its own, and backed the Hertfordshire development a week later.
The elections on Thursday will be an indication of whether the public feel the council has managed to deal with cuts of 28% to its budget, and a reduction in its spending of 200m between 2009 and 2014. Robert Gordon, Conservative leader of the council, told BBC Three Counties the county council is in a difficult position. The Secretary of State has indicated that the government is minded to grant planning permission, he said.
The council has to decide whether to pass the land (part of the Radlett site is owned by the county) on and what the advantage would be to the public. Sharon Taylor, Labour leader in Hertfordshire, said: This is a Secretary of State who is arrogant and forcing decisions on the public. We understand the difficult legal position the county council is in, but they need to clearly state their policy that the public don t want this.
The Lib Dems also oppose the development at the site, with its leader Stephen Giles-Medhurst said Mr Pickles has not listened to local wishes, even though he understands it will cause harm to the area . I m hopeful he will still change his mind 10,000 people have signed a petition against these proposals, he said. Referendum call Dave Platt, county chairman of UKIP, believes in local referenda.
If there is opposition in the area and 5% of the people sign a petition, then we would hold a local referendum on a large application , he said. Ian Brandon, a Green Party councillor, said: Our view is that it is an inappropriate site for such a facility. He said Greens generally support the use of rail to transport freight, but he said this particular site would just encourage more lorries to come to Hertfordshire.
It would not cut down the number of lorries, he said.
A spokesman for DCLG said: Planning is a quasi-judicial matter, and every case needs to be considered on its individual merits.
The department will issue a decision in due course.
18 April 2013 Last updated at 12:52 ET Network Rail said work on a flyover at Norton Bridge would start in 2014 if planning permission was given Work has begun on a 250m scheme in Staffordshire to improve train journey times on the West Coast Main Line. Network Rail said it was installing new signals to speed up journeys between Norton Bridge and Crewe. It would also provide a new area for freight trains at Stafford and, subject to the outcome of a public inquiry, a new flyover at Norton Bridge, it said.
The whole project is due to be finished by December 2017 with passengers seeing little or no disruption to services . The first stage of work is focused on increasing train speeds on 23 miles (37km) of track between Norton Bridge and Crewe from 75mph to 100mph. Network Rail said if planning permission was given to build the flyover at Norton Bridge, work on that would begin next spring.
Little disruption A spokesman for the company said the works were complex but would remove a key bottleneck from the West Coast Main Line. He said: This will help us provide faster, more frequent train services with improved reliability. Passengers will see little or no disruption to services as a result of this work because most of it will be delivered during weekends and midweek nights.
Network Rail said as a result of the project, it would be able to put on two extra trains every hour in each direction between London and the North West.
That would include one additional train hourly both ways between Manchester and Birmingham, via Stone, and a further freight train every hour each way through Stafford, it said.