The proposed Oxford-Cambridge railway consultation shows a new eastern entrance to Cambridge Station is essential

You can read the East-West Rail Consultation here.

One of the things that has been raised in recent times is whether the route should approach Cambridge from the south (as is the current plan) or from the north – with a possible additional station at Northstowe – one of the new housing developments that was supposed to have been one of Gordon Brown’s Ecotowns.

Above – from the earlier report on the first Bedford-Cambridge route consultation here – with campaigners such as persuading ministers that they should reconsider the northern route again.

One of the things that concentrated some minds is the current proposal from the Transport Secretary that the line should be diesel – something condemned by local politicians and environmentalists. The recent interim report from the Climate Commission for Cambs & P’boro made clear the climate challenge. Cambridgeshire cannot afford to have a new railway pumping out diesel fumes.

New eastern platforms at Cambridge Station

This bit matters particularly to my neighbourhood.

Above – from p261 of the consultation document.

Above – from GMaps here

Calls for an eastern entrance to Cambridge Station are not new.

70 years ago, Messrs Holford and Wright included such a proposal into their post-war Cambridge Development Plan of 1950.

Above – from Holford Wright 1950 – which has been digitised by Cambridge City Council and hidden away here. (They haven’t digitised Part II with the maps, or if they have, I’ve not found it.)

I support the principle of an Eastern Entrance and have done for ages. Not least it would have shortened by commute to London during my civil service days from home-to-station. Fewer late nights waiting for a bus trying to avoid the cold and rail.

Building a new eastern entrance would involve careful planning because the main cycle route into that entrance from Davy Road is one that has a popular children’s playground next to it. i.e. it cannot be a case of building the entrance and saying “Done it!” At the same time, building the eastern entrance provides an ideal opportunity to rename Rustat Road – called as such by Jesus College when they ignored the controversial trading and investment activities of donors in centuries gone by – like slave trade investor Tobias Rustat. (Jesus College owned the land at the time the neighbourhood was being developed).

In the grand scheme of things, designated cycle paths along with the promotion of car clubs to local residents might be two of the proposals to remove cars from street parking. Davy Road represents a particular challenge in terms of a local response. It will take some political courage to prohibit parking or simply designate the road as part of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood and put some bollards up at either end so only cyclists can get through.

The impact on Cambridge Station’s main entrance?

If anything it means people who want to spend as little time at the station can avoid the crowds of tourists that pre-lockdown used the station. Even if the tourists don’t return in the same numbers post-lockdown, the fact that the station was already very overcrowded might make Station Square just a little bit more bearable for everyone – tourists included.

And the Cambridge Metro/Light Rail Stop?

The two proposals remain the CAM Metro proposal, rail-less pods based on futuristic technology, vs the Cambridge Connect Light Rail proposal, based on existing light rail technology. I’ve been backing the latter for a number of years. At some stage the proposals for the station will need to incorporate one of the two proposals. It may well be that an eastern entrance can also be the place for where passengers can change from local mass transit to the national mass transit, so to speak.

Would there need to be lots of shops on that side of the station? Not really – as most of the passenger traffic coming out of the station will be local rather than tourist. With Mill Road to the north, Cherry Hinton Road and the three convenience stores in/around the Leisure Park/Cattle Market site, and another Co-op at the bottom of Radegund Road, making the case for more shops won’t be straight forward. Furthermore, given that the area is a reasonably long-established suburb, local residents will not want anything that has people hanging around late at night. At the same time, there is a public safety expectation that the eastern entrance will be staffed, especially late at night.

The nearest rail station to a new Cambridge Concert Hall?

More details here following the announcement from Cambridge University on a new Centre for Music Performance. Although this won’t affect the Eastern entrance, it might have some impact on the number of people coming back from Cambridge by Parker’s Piece and using late services out of Cambridge. It may be the same with a Metro/Light Rail stop depending on where a city centre underground station is built if at all.

And a footbridge to the Leisure Park and The Cambridge Junction venue?

Part of this will be dependent on the exact alignment of the Chisholm trail. At present there are no plans for a foot/cycle path on the eastern side of the railway at Cambridge Station. So the other alternative is a very simple footbridge between The Junction and the footpath next to the guided busway.

Above – from GMaps here. Round the back of The Junction, which is due to be revamped anyway, a simple footbridge from there over the railway line & guided busway, exiting on the footpage next to the busway at the old Signalling building. What such a footbridge also does is it makes all of the facilities on the Leisure Park much more accessible to the residents living on the other side of the railway line and Hills Road Bridge – in the new flats and social housing developments.

Above – from GMaps here.

So in the grand scheme of things, that eastern entrance and that small footbridge could make a huge difference to the accessibility of the railway station – taking away some of the local users who know where they want to get to and want to avoid the crowds of tourists, through to opening up the employment opportunities to a recently-completed housing estate which has social housing as part of it, and new residential community whose community facilities are limited to say the least. (Through no fault of their own – I think the developers should have given the community something far more substantial than The Signal Box, & councillors & officers should have forced the issue).

The May 2021 Elections – a reminder

Nominations close soon if you want to become a candidate! (Deadline 4pm Thurs 08 April 2021). Some local parties might still be looking for some, or you could stand as an independent candidate. (See Flatpack Democracy’s page here).

After the deadline, councils will then publish the list of candidates. Their social media and contact details are being collated in a big database by The Democracy Club called – you will just need your postcode to find details of the candidates who want your vote. Ask them questions, read their manifestos, cast a vote informed by their answers and what you’ve read.

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