Cambridge Connect…

I recently stumbled across the website of Cambridge Connect, an initiative “to help create an enduring system of rapid and sustainable transit that would help address the transport challenges facing Cambridge, while ensuring that the social, educational, economic, environmental, historic and cultural qualities that define the City are maintained and enhanced”. So far the energies of Cambridge Connect seem to have been mostly spent investigating and proposing a light rail rapid transit system for Cambridge, something that I agree needs to be pursued as a long-term transport solution for the city and surrounding areas. It’s also probably a good time to propose the idea again because, as I initially feared, it looks like Cambridge’s city deal money is almost certainly going to be mostly spent on relatively piecemeal improvements that make Cambridge a less attractive place to live for most people1.

A Dublin Bus bus in Cambridge

An old Dublin Bus bus (now Go Whippet branded) in Cambridge

When initially looking through the Cambridge Connect website, and after having already decided to post about it, I was pleased to notice that it talks a little about my Cambridge Automated Metro (CAM) proposal. Indeed, a number of the ideas are preserved: the proposed Isaac Newton line has some similarities to parts of all of CAM’s lines and some of CAM’s proposed extensions (though it cuts a corner by going directly under the historic city centre2), and extensions A and B connect many of the other areas covered by CAM. The idea of a main line and various extensions is also similar to CAM’s division into three lines that could be built at separate times.

While the initial CAM proposal was primarily an attempt to stoke imaginations and ambition while generating debate, Cambridge Connect does not mention the small amount of headway I made in a later post with thoughts on how to make the idea less financially infeasible:

By skirting around the edge of the city to the south and north-west, the North and South lines could have significant ground-level sections, reducing costs. Additional complexity-reducing and cost-cutting measures could include the Chesterton to Cambridge Science Park section of the North line making use of Stourbridge Common for a cut-and-cover section and runing at ground level parallel to the train line when it meets that.

It looks those behind Cambridge Connect had similar thoughts though, as their Isaac Newton line proposal does feature ground-level running to the south and north-west of Cambridge. 🙂

Overall, while I do quite like some of the unique elements of my CAM proposal (e.g. that it is an X-system rather than something more like a Secant-system), I am pleased to see a similar proposal that has benefited from having far more time and effort poured into it. I do hope that it will result in more concrete action and take Cambridge closer to having public transport that isn’t so bad that it drives people to cycling. Maybe someday I’ll get round to investigating CAM’s extensions further and proposing Cambridge Countryside City.

  1. Buses (at least the ones in Cambridge) are mostly unpleasant for anyone on or near them and much of the cycle infrastructure in Cambridge is dangerous when combined with drivers not familiar with the city. Also, as argued previously, the prevalence is cycling in Cambridge is probably contributed to by the poor public transport. []
  2. CAM attempted to avoid historic buildings and therefore simply avoided the historic city centre. []