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‘Western orbital’ transport plans for Cambridge move forward

Published: Monday, August 21, 2017

Work to develop improved transport links to the west and south of Cambridge are set to move forward at Assembly and Board meetings of the Greater Cambridge Partnership next month.

As part of wider plans to accommodate an increase in trips as Greater Cambridge continues to grow, plans for new ‘orbital’ public transport on the M11 between Junction 14 and 11 and extra Park & Ride capacity to the south of the city are being explored.

The ‘western orbital’ scheme, led by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, aims to provide new and fast links between key housing and employment centres to the west and south of Cambridge.

It would mean thousands of people who currently have travel through the city to get to work, schools or the main hospitals at Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC), would instead be able to travel around the city on new bus services, by bike or on foot.

With expected growth at the CBC site and the introduction of any measures to manage congestion, it’s estimated additional P&R spaces in the south west of the city will be needed in the coming years.

Map of the proposed Western Orbital Scheme

Proposed Western Orbital Scheme

September’s public meetings of the Partnership’s Joint Assembly and Executive Board will be presented with:

  • Park & Ride capacity: A proposal to create more ground-level spaces at Trumpington Road Park & Ride.
  • ‘Smart motorway’: A proposal to ask (in conjunction with other local stakeholders) Highways England to consider turning the M11 hard shoulder into a ‘smart motorway’ between junctions 10-14. This would increase capacity and make traffic flow smoother and more safely, with less stop-starts, with the potential to improve bus journeys.
  • Junction 11 slip road/s: An update on recent discussions with Highways England to improve the sliproad(s) at Junction 11, with a focus on bus movements.
  • Girton Interchange: An update on recent discussions with Highways England for a potential upgrade to the Girton Interchange.

These are intermediate steps as part of the on-going Western Orbital project, and further work and proposals will be brought to Assembly and Board meetings at later meetings in 2017 and 2018. 

Chair of the Board and South Cambridgeshire District Councillor Francis Burkitt said: “We can all see the huge and exciting amount of growth happening in Cambridge and the district and nowhere is this more acute than at Cambridge Biomedical campus, the heart of our health, life sciences and pharma industries. 

“The Partnership is developing plans that will provide extra capacity for trips, for parking and for cycling while, at the same time, working with communities to help manage the impact of this.

 “The Partnership is keen that more of the longer-distance bus routes should use the M11 to go round the city, rather than go through the centre, and so we must make the case strongly to Highways England to introduce a smart motorway, to upgrade Girton interchange and to improve the the M11 slip road at junction 11, including to improve the movement of local bus services.”

South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen said: "The economy in this part of South Cambridgeshire is developing at a phenomenal rate as we see increased connectivity between the Biomedical Campus around Addenbrooke's, the North West Cambridge site and the science parks around the A505 and A11. It is vital that we focus our efforts on improving transport connectivity in this area. 

 “The Girton Interchange in particular, has still not been dealt with despite securing funding for the A14 and A428.  As the heart of all these arterial routes, and the meeting point of so many of our congestion issues, it is vital that we find a solution.

 “I had an excellent meeting with County Council, Greater Cambridge Partnership and Highways England representatives back in April where we agreed to look at an "all ways" and interim south bound solution. I am pleased the Greater Cambridge Partnership have maintained their commitment to this project and feel confident that together with the support of Highways England and the Combined Authority we will work together as a team to resolve this once and for all."

Meetings of the Joint Assembly and Executive Board will be held on 13 and 20 September respectively with the first set of papers due to be published on September 1.

For more information, please visit the Western Orbital project page.

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