UK Tram has thrown its support behind the Cambridge Connect – Railfuture proposals for Light Rail in Cambridge to address congestion. UK Tram is the industry body for light rail and trams in the United Kingdom, and comprises a membership of experts including operators, manufacturers, local authorities and consultancies. UK Tram has offered Cambridge Connect support in the form of strategic and technical advice, drawing on the depth and breadth of UK expertise in the light rail industry.
According to Colin Robey, Managing Director of UK Tram, light rail could be transformative for Cambridge as a rapidly growing small-to-medium sized city experiencing severe congestion. He cited the example of Besançon, France, where light rail has been established cost-effectively even though its population is 10% smaller than Cambridge.
Besançon built its light rail system, completed in 2014, at a cost of ~£15m per km. If Cambridge could build the Isaac Newton Line at the same per km cost, the entire line of 22 km could be completed for around £275m. With an inner city bi-directional tunnel of 3 km (£150m), plus stations (£100m), the line might be able to be built for around £525m. Assumptions about the affordability of light rail should be reconsidered in view of the Besançon experience.
Colin Robey said “UK Tram has identified Cambridge as a prime location for a light rail public transport alternative, and is looking at a range of UK towns and cities with an eye to expanding provision of light rail…
“One of my major concerns had been the idea of tunnelling, but you have got one of the world experts on tunnelling saying the sub-strata here would make it easy. Cambridge University has also been leading on a project on noise and vibrations of steel wheeled vehicles.”
Cambridge Connect and Railfuture are looking forward to collaborating with UK Tram in the future to develop the concepts and strategy in more detail.