Cambridge Approaches Action Group (C&V Article)

AC7XAK Freightliner freight train, pulling out of the North rail freight terminal, Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK.

Background

After the public consultation last year, East West Rail (EWR) decided in January this year to focus their attention on route ‘option E’ for the section of their new railway between Bedford and Cambridge. It is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and will form the busy central-section of the final East West Railway between East Anglia’s ports and the Midlands, serving fast growing towns along its route. Why the multi-modal corridor to the north proposed by CamBedRailRoad was not selected remains a mystery. ‘Option E’ is not a rail alignment but a corridor, several miles wide in places, through which the line will run. It includes Haslingfield and the outskirts of Harlton but also extends to Comberton and Barton in the north and Newton and The Shelfords in the east. EWR are currently carrying out further design and survey work to determine different line options which are planned to be used in a public consultation in 2021 before their selection of a preferred alignment. Construction is expected to start in 2025.

What to expect

What little detail we know about the alignment is given in the consultation response. EWR are funded by the tax-payer and we have submitted a Freedom of Information request to them to find out more. We know the line will connect with the Liverpool Street line near Great Shelford and that EWR have stated that they will avoid residential areas and reduce negative environmental impacts. We believe the line will avoid the radio telescopes (MRAO), forcing possible alignments towards the boundaries of the option E area. EWR have discussed exclusion distances with the MRAO but so far have not made this information public.

If the MRAO requirements are respected and the line goes to the north, it will pass close to Barton and then follow the M11 before crossing the A1301 in Great Shelford. Other options to the south would have much more of an impact on Harlton and Haslingfield in terms of noise, air quality and visual intrusion. It is very likely, given our knowledge of the location of surveys that EWR have requested and undertaken, that they are seriously considering an options skimming close to Haslingfield Road, Harlton, the top of Knapp Rise, School Lane and The Elms before passing just south of Harston.  Some minor roads and footpaths may be closed.

EWR’s diesel trains will be a mixture of passenger and freight with night-time operations. This will inevitably create more noise and air pollution, the extent of which would depend on the option chosen.

What we can do

We successfully stopped the Cemex waste incinerator 15 years ago, but this is potentially the biggest disruption to Haslingfield and Harlton for a generation and it is amazing to us how little local people are aware of it. Irreversible decisions will be taken soon.

We feel that the residents of the area should have an input into this decision-making process and now have agreement of the affected parishes to form an action group. The intention is also to work with EWR and other stakeholders in discussing alignment options and mitigating the impacts. We will generate our own options and, together, select one that is least damaging to the area. We will then lobby EWR to adopt this option in the hope of getting a better outcome for all. If we do not express our wishes at an early stage, the options may be restricted and residents will be presented with a fait accompli.

If you are interested in helping or finding out more, please subscribe on  our website http://cambridgeapproaches.org/.

Comments (15)

  • William

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    I have just added a post with a progress update for the Cambridge Approaches Action Group. See cambridgeapproaches.org for details.

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  • NEVILLE JAMES COLE

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    An interesting thought here that reflects one I’ve sent to SCDC concerning the
    housing proposed on the cement works site. Use the rail spur from Foxton to
    give a rail/tramway connection to Cambridge’s new stations, and southbound
    via Foxton. Clean green shuttle buses linking to a simple station at Barrington
    serving adjacent villages.Gaillac, a modest sized town, 14000 population, where I live in France, was the first in France to adopt such a bus, over 5 years ago. It’s free.
    Brexit doubtless scuppers any European support for such an idea to reduce vehicle
    movements on rural roads.
    From an oap bred, born raised, and resident over 50 years.
    NJC

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  • Dave

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    To Sally Nott,

    The line HAS to go somewhere – it HAS to happen.

    We are where we are. The blame for this, (yet another) mess up of transport in Cambridgeshire, lies with successive failures in joined up thinking by CCC and interference and behind the scene influences from powerful groups and institutions, leading to so many missed opportunities. This has been allowed to happen by the residents of Cambridgeshire having no interest and not engaging. A prime example , the Chums Enquiry and as a result the Guided Busways fiasco.

    The repercussions from the Busway decision are having a direct bearing on what can be done now with EWR and with the Cambridge North and south stations. There are many other cock ups that people can think of I am sure.

    A massive increase in employment opportunities in and around Cambridge and a world leading Bio-Medical Campus require that we finally get some proper transport systems in place. With the environmental requirements personal transport is no longer an acceptable form of transport, rail and light railways are the way forward as well as walking and cycling.

    The children and Grandchildren need to have jobs and houses, yet little thought was given to this until recently by the now retired people who bred them.

    Hence this group, which is to attempt the almost impossible task of getting the best outcome for the whole area. Somebody will suffer of course. Hence my call for tunnelling where necessary to negate the worst impacts of this railway.

    Engage with your combined authority Mayor and EWR and the Parish Council and this group and as many people as you know to get the best outcome.

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  • Sally Nott

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    Horrified, appalled and angered. I cannot understand why it is deemed appropriate to construct so close to a rural, residential area, close to listed properties, a school and abundant wildlife. It is ironic that we have to go through hoops to get planning permission for a simple garden office and yet such a devastating development can seemingly progress with no consideration to the detrimental impact on our beautiful, peaceful village.

    Reply

  • Dave

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    Regardless of this groups best efforts to mitigate impacts locally it is clear with the limited route option 5 that has been chosen, there is very little choice for the local route through the pinch point.
    The campaign should concentrate on a tunnel – whether cut and cover or bored (civil engineering requirements dictate which) through the pinch point. I doubt that at this late stage a different route option would be selected.
    I am surprised to read that there seems to be little awareness of this project, there has been massive amounts of coverage locally and nationally. CCC have had a lead role since 1995 in the EWR consortium. There is a raised interest in events, a good thing indeed, this link could be at the bottom of YOUR garden.
    Regionally and Nationally there is a need for the EWR link, it will either be converted to electric traction quite soon after completion, maybe even during construction as originally intended.
    The tunnel and choice of motive power can be influenced if enough people engage and take an interest. The public enquiry could be less than 2 years away, remember the target opening is less than 5 years away, if you are interested, get your skates on folks.

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  • Kim

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    “We successfully stopped the Cemex waste incinerator 15 years ago, but this is potentially the biggest disruption to Haslingfield and Harlton for a generation and it is amazing to us how little local people are aware of it. Irreversible decisions will be taken soon”

    The above statement is incorrect and the UofC (MRAO) had a lot of weight in stopping the Cemex waste incinerator going ahead. Let’s try and be kind to all our surrounding neighbours/villages and remember that the MRAO has been a silent partner in keeping our villages tranquil and sheltered from major encroaching developments.

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  • William

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    No problem Leslie, we are working on a subscription option for the cambridgeapproaches.org website. (Nearly there now).

    Reply

  • William

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    Chris, excellent comment. It’s also why we have sent a freedom of information request to EWR to reveal their dialogue with the people that run the telescopes.
    see https://cambridgeapproaches.org/?p=53

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  • Chris Malings

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    As a resident of Haslingfield I am very concerned that a desired to avoid the Mullard astronomy site will push the line into very close proximity with thousands of residents in Haslingfield, Harlton and Harston.
    The only route I can see that will avoid a harmful impact upon local residents is mid-way between Barton and Haslingfield, connecting into the Kings Cross line before the Shelfords.

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  • NEVILLE JAMES COLE

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    Interesting times ahead. I recall the pre-Beeching days of the line through Lord’s Bridge connecting with Bedford and beyond.
    Maybe some questions on future shipping logistics should be raised in consultations.
    Felixstowe handles container traffic, along with other ports. The arriving containers
    of imports originate from where? With Brexit nearly complete, European sources will
    reduce volume; most of which was road and rail cross channel. The far east and
    the Americas seem the most likely sources of Felixstowe’s throughput. However,
    can this be substantiated by confirmed post-Brexit super free-trade arrangements?
    The proponents of the new line have considered this?
    Presumably the grubby diesel power would be replaced by electric, as used on
    European services; quick and clean.
    It’s healthy to raise points of concern. This ought to be in the broader picture.
    NJC

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  • Andrew

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    Fall back postion for EWR, on the boundary of existing area.
    Leave Cambridge/London line at Foxton junction with new road junction and P&R carpark. Using existing spur or new line to east followed by cutting/tunnel through hill between Haslingfield and Harlton. Depending on MRAO/Universities pull, route close to east/north noundary of Harlton & north of Ltttle Eversden or south of Harlton, as per C1-9, but more costly. Seen by EWR to be responding to concerns over impact on Haslingfield, adding to access to line for population to south & SW with station at Foxton, limited impact on pre-existing planning for Trumpington/Hauxton area.
    I asume routes shown on existing maps, e.g. C1-9 (https://susanvandeven.mycouncillor.org.uk/files/2018/10/Shepreth-Junction.jpg) are not final

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  • Tom Lindley

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    Good to see this – have we more detail of design – how many tracs – I think I am going over to where they are currently constructing EWR Railway – at Bletchly there is a major flyover.

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  • David Lean

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    Its important that the proposed railway line doesn’t come anywhere near residential dwellings. We bought our property for peace and quiet in the countryside, the last thing we or our neighbours want is a railway line running close by.

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  • Brigadier G A J Macintosh CBE

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    We live in Harlton and are very concerned about the proposals. I am posted abroad at the moment but will do what I can to support (my wife, Annelies, is at Home).
    Yours
    Alex

    Reply

  • Lesley Golding

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    Hi I volunteer for access the British Horse Society and also run Barton and District Bridleway Group. I keep my horse in Barton.
    I would like to be kept informed and contribute to your campaign.

    Reply

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