Mayor questions need for busway from Waterbeach into Cambridge

Greater Cambridge Partnership project director Paul van de Bulk (left) who has oversight of the busway proposals from...

Greater Cambridge Partnership project director Paul van de Bulk (left) who has oversight of the busway proposals from Waterbeach to Cambridge - Credit: Archant

Mayor James Palmer says he is “very concerned” by proposals for a busway to connect Waterbeach and the north of Cambridge. 

A new busway has been proposed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), the bulk of a £53 million package of investment in transport between the two areas.

Rail travel from Waterbeach to Cambridge is improving all the time. The issue now is whether the new town of Waterbeach...

Waterbeach - is a busway not needed and too expensive? That's now under debate - Credit: Archant

At the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority transport committee on Wednesday (January 6), Mayor Palmer, said he is “very concerned about what is being proposed”.

He said: “I’m generally concerned about putting a busway from Cambridge North Station directly to Waterbeach Station which is probably less than two miles away, going through and along the edge of Waterbeach. 

GCP projector Paul van de Bulk who has oversight of the busway between Waterbeach and Cambridge. 

GCP projector Paul van de Bulk who has oversight of the busway between Waterbeach and Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

“There doesn’t seem to be to me at this moment in time any genuine reason to do so when the train has just been doubled in capacity between King’s Lynn and Cambridge – an extra four carriages on those King’s Lynn to Cambridge trains.”

The rail connection is good and improving but does Waterbeach need, or merit, a busway into the city? That is now a matter...

Waterbeach will be unrecognisable maybe in years to come. What public transport it will require is now a matter of some debate - Credit: Archant

He was concerned about the short-term investment that he felt “should probably be more towards the railway than a busway”. 

Mayor Palmer was worried that GCP were perhaps spending money in the wrong area or doing the wrong thing in Waterbeach.  

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“So, I have a genuine concern about what the reason is for putting the busway between Waterbeach station and Cambridge North station and how wise that is.” 

The sprawling countryside connecting Waterbeach to Cambridge and where a busway is scheduled. But Mayor Palmer has...

Waterbeach from above - so close to Cambridge and the question is does it need a busway - Credit: Google

The GCP is still assessing options for the route following a public consultation, but a busway and accompanying walking and cycling provision has been proposed to alleviate peak time congestion on the A10 and overcrowding on the rail. 

No definitive plans for the route have yet been decided. The estimated completion date for whatever is decided is 2027. 

Let the bus and not the train take some of the strain. A busway into Waterbeach is proposed but some doubts have been...

Bring it on is the rallying cry of the Greater Cambridge Partnership to bring a busway to Waterbeach. Mayor James Palmer is having some reservations - Credit: Archant

The vision for the Waterbeach New Town suggests a new busway as well as relocating Waterbeach station. 

Two planning applications for the new town have been made which together propose 11,000 homes, of which 6,500 already have outline permission. 

The mayor’s comments come amid an ongoing dispute with the GCP over plans for another new busway which would connect Cambourne and Cambridge.  

And he has also questioned the wider GCP strategy of building busways and park and rides. 

Pretty as a picture but travel into and out of Cambridge is now a hot topic in Waterbeach. Does it need a busway too? 

Waterbeach is growing and will grow much faster. But does it need investment in both improved rail services and a busway into the city? - Credit: Archant

The GCP’s proposals for four new busways connect with part of the wider strategy by the Combined Authority for a Cambridge-centred metro, which seeks to connect and expand those routes.  

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