The new proposed sci/tech parks should help pay for upgraded rail lines

…But our county’s governance infrastructure is such a mess that I fear this opportunity will be missed. Again.

Some of you will have seen the headline in the Cambridge Independent on the new proposals at Coldham’s Lane. It actually refers to the publication of the Environmental Scoping Report (See the planning portal and type in: 23/01683/SCOP into the simple search bar). It’s the same case I wrote about back in March 2023 here.

“1250 car parking spaces?!!! That’s a lot of extra traffic on Coldhams lane”

…wrote one of the local comments on the FB page of one of the neighbourhood groups close by. And with good reason. Residents have been complaining ***for decades*** about “The Church End rat run” and the peak time traffic jams at the junction of Coldham’s Lane at St Andrew’s Church (the Grade 1 listed building that’s one of the oldest non-University buildings in Cambridge)

Above – from G-Maps here. Zoom out and you can see the road that arcs around from the right-centre (Church End) all the way around to the left around the industrial estate before hitting the green patch by the car dealership. An extra 1,000 cars a day will make an already miserable situation worse.

“Is ‘travel hub’ a euphemism for ‘car park?'”

Car park with a bus stop and a few cycle spaces I guess. See the square icon furthest left within the red-lined boundaries.

Above – from the Part 3 document in the documents pack

As many of you are aware, this is not the only science park-related development in the pipeline. RailPen have got their three developments at the western end of Coldham’s Lane next to the Cambridge-Ely railway line.

Above – see my write-up from their consultation on for the Newmarket Road site here.

They’ve had a few events where I’ve also written about their proposals for The Beehive Centre site including:

And then there’s the new proposals for Capital Park between Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn, for which we find out more in less than 24 hours from the time of posting – see my earlier blogpost here. If you can make the in-person consultation from 4-8pm on 10 May, please do go – and get them to talk to Cambridge Connect and Rail Future.

The Mayor of the Combined Authority needs to drag in all of the developers into a meeting with Network Rail and local MPs to thrash out an agreement on funding contributions to upgrade that single track diesel line that heads out of Cambridge

Only the direction of travel with the developments speaks volumes. And the scoping document does not include RailPen’s plans for Newmarket Road, nor does it include the Capital Park proposals. It does however include some of the housing proposals – noting also the Cambridge Airport site is marked for a major new housing development itself.

Above – the site “Land south of Coldham’s Lane” in red

Latest version of Cambridge Connect’s concept map

This was produced just before RailPen announced their Beehive Centre proposals – upon which you can see they had already outlined a proposed new station for Capital Park. If only the developers of Capital Park could actually pay for it!

Above – from Cambridge Connect – oh, and do read Rail Future’s newsletters here.

Where you see the railway junction has the spar that heads towards Newmarket and Ipswich, geographically it is at a point just north of Coldham’s Lane bridge over the railway line. As this slightly-blurred Chisholm Trail cycleway diagram shows, the bit where ‘Phase 1’ and ‘Phase 2’ join up is where Coldham’s Lane is. It’s at the bridge over the railway line that I propose having a new suburban or light rail station.

Above – from the GCP’s proposals for the Chilsholm Trail.

A new suburban station here would have four exits:

  • The Beehive Centre
  • The current Cambridge Retail Park
  • Coldham’s Common for the Abbey Stadium
  • Cromwell Road for local residents

Given the huge increase in footfall brought by the developments, Network Rail would need to start working on dualling the rail line (and ideally electrifying it).

Above – from G-Maps here, showing the walking distance between what would effectively be “Beehive Junction Station (or just “The Beehive”) – also where the brilliant Centre for Computing History is, the proposed ‘Land South of Coldham’s Lane (the nearest marker being a mini-play area called Prizon Park), passed Cherry Hinton Village, and onto where the Capital Park developments are – next to the Fulbourn Sports & Social Club. (Not the same as the Fulbourn Institute which is in the village itself).

“What happens after Fulbourn?”

Transport planners can either have the route terminating at a Six Mile Bottom ‘parkway’ station for the A11, or they can extend it to Newmarket, Soham, and Ely, creating an alternative route for when the Cambridge-Ely line goes down, as it periodically does.

Above – from G-Maps here, this effectively creates a Cambridge – Science Parks East – Newmarket – Soham – Ely – Cambridge circle line.

Note Rail Future East has called for the re-opening of the old spur linking Newmarket to Soham. All local political parties should be inviting Rail Future East and Jonathan Roberts to present their findings to them – whether at their local, county, or regional conferences.

“Do we take active travel routes alongside as a given?”

Ideally yes (cycleways, footpaths etc – on what would double-up as service roads as well).

“What can we do to help?!?”

Email your MPs via and ask their staff to make contact with the developers to find out what approaches they have all made to:

  1. Network Rail
  2. Cambridge Connect Light Rail
  3. Rail Future
  4. The Mayor of (and the) Combined Authority

….on the options for contributing significant sums of funding for rail-based solutions to their transport challenges. Because commuter buses simply will not be enough and risk contributing to already congested local roads.

Also, for those of you in the council wards affected, drop them a line (also via asking them for their opinions.

Public meetings to raise these issues at.

People living in Cambridge can table public questions to the following meetings of Cambridge City Council:

They can also table questions to the following of the County Council

They can also table questions to the following of the Combined Authority

Ideally, someone who is not me will be willing to table the public questions.

Because I’ve spent most of the day in bed trying to recover from post-exertional malaise / Chronic Fatigue, and both the pace and the volume of all of this feels utterly relentless.

As I’ve mentioned, you don’t need to do this alone. There are a host of organisations you can join and work through, including but not limited to:

Alternatively, join one of your local political parties that most aligns with your views. (If you’re not sure which one, see or contact each one with questions you have and pick one).

Only there’s a general election due within the next 18 months, so if that’s something you’ve been pondering, now is probably the time to take action. Otherwise you might end up a grumpy middle-aged bloke who moans about everything come the dissolution of Parliament!

Food for thought?

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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