Monday, 6 July 2020

How the flooding problem might be overcome?

recent petition to the County Council raised the issue that is the almost annual closure of the Busway bridleway/maintenance track due to flooding between St Ives and Swavesey. The petition collected 244 signatures in the 3 months it was open.

The petition reads:

  • Every year the guided busway cycle path is closed due to flooding between st ives and cambridge. This normally means having to swap from using environmental bikes to commuting by car.
  • There are a number improvement options to keep this commuter path open, the most basic being a small path slightly up the bank on the sections that flood for example.
  • Will you please consider these improvements to allow this cycleway to be a reliable option for commuters please?
The County Council response reads as follows. Note, in particular, the 3rd paragraph.

  • The maintenance track runs alongside the busway in this area.  This is designated as a bridleway but can be closed at any time for works required on the Busway itself under the 2005 Busway Order.  The track sits within flood zones varying from type 2 to type 3 (areas at significant risk of flooding).  This area is designated a flood plain by the Environment Agency.
  • At some times of the year the flooding is severe and can reach several metres up the track bank.  To institute a path wide enough for two way cyclists along the bank, without restricting the width of the existing maintenance track for maintenance and without undermining the structure of the bank could prove to be an expensive and unsatisfactory solution.  To have cyclists moved closer to vehicles going 56 mph would be the opposite of what most individuals would wish to achieve.
  • The major infrastructure team have been asked to look at whether a solution could be found on the other side of the maintenance track, away from the Busway track itself and if this proves possible, to find sources of funding for it.
  • Over 30 million passenger journeys have been undertaken on the Busway since opening in 2011.  The rapid transit system has achieved its goal of being a reliable option for commuters rather than to commute by car.  Therefore the obvious option at present when the maintenance track is flooded is for commuters to use the buses rather than to revert to using their cars.
The petition was formally introduced to the 16 June meeting of the County Council's Highways and Transport Committee, but was not discussed.






Saturday, 27 June 2020

Busway construction issues - it's back to court again!

Longer-term readers of this blog will be aware that the original construction of the Busway raised a number of issues regarding costs and alleged construction defects. Back in August 2013, the County Council and contractors BAM Nuttall settled a case out of court. There's more information about this in a couple of our 2013 posts - those of 30 August and 8 September.

Then in December 2016, New Civil Engineer reported that the County Council was suing BAM Nuttall for a £31 million for repair of defects - see the 15 December post. I haven't been able to trace what happened to that claim.

Fast forward to 2020... and the Cambridge Independent reports that the County Council is again pursuing a case against BAM Nuttall. And again over the cost of repairing what the Council alleges are defects. The Cambridge Independent report can be found here.

Now, given the speed at which civil court cases proceed it's possible that this latest one is simply a development from the 2016 claim. Or it might be entirely different.

BAM Nuttall is defending the claim.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Another long-term Busway B diversion - yes, seriously!

Busway B passengers have had to put up with more than their fair share of diversions, stop changes and the like over the past year or more. Well, guess what - there's another long-term diversion due to come into operation on Monday 29 June.

This one is in connection with Phases B & D of the Greater Cambridge Partnership's Histon Road project, which covers the whole road between Kings Hedges Road and Victoria Road.

So... from Monday 29 June, Histon Road will be completely closed inbound. The B service will effectively follow the A route between Histon and Cambridge New Square, omitting Orchard Park,Shire Hall and Round Church St (currently closed anyway, but due to reopen in early July). Passengers who would normally alight at Shire Hall will find themselves with a significant problem, as there's no diversionary route available - you simply have to carry on into the City Centre and then catch an outbound service.

How long will this diversion last? Well, the GCP's announcement was noticeably vague on this - saying nothing more specific than that the closure would last "for the duration of the construction". Stagecoach say it will be for "several months". The GCP's project page, though, is more helpful - Phase B will last until spring 2021, and Phase D until summer 2021.

For more information go to:

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Changes from 14/15 June

Important changes from 14/15 June.

1, Stagecoach timetable changes (from 14 June)
The R remains suspended. There are more frequent services on routes A, B & D. Click here for more information, and here for the new timetables.

2. Concessionary pass holders (from 15 June)
The County Council is removing the temporary exception that allowed concessionary pass holders to travel before 0930 Mon-Fri. If you need to use the bus to access one of the early morning supermarket slots reserved for the elderly you'll have to pay to use the bus to get there (and possibly back).

3. Face coverings (from 15 June)
Face coverings will be compulsory on all public transport from 15 June.

There is reduced capacity on buses as a result of physical distancing requirements.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Round Church Street closure, 8 June-6 July

The inbound Busway "B" service will be diverted between 8 June and 6 July because Round Church Street is closed during that period. The Round Church Street stop will not be served (obviously!). Outbound journeys are not affected.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Bank Holiday Monday, 25 May

Busway services are operating to a Sunday timetable (using the current temporary timetables, of course) on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 May. Services B, D & U will be running, therefore, with the U extending to/from the Biomedical Campus. Essential travel only.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

University consultation on the "U" service - closes 26 May

It's just been brought to my attention that the University has launched a consultation in connection with a review of the "U" (or "Universal") service. This is in preparation for the signing of a new contract, due to take effect in July 2021 [sic].

Of particular interest to those who follow this blog will be options around frequency of service (including reducing the frequency, compared with the pre-pandemic timetable) as well as a suggestion that some of the journeys between the Railway Station and the Biomedical Campus might revert to using Hills Road rather than the Busway. Also the possibility of extending the service to Babraham Road and/or Trumpington Park & Ride sites.

Anyway, please have a look at the consultation documentation. And pay particular attention to the closing date for submissions - it's May 26th.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Busway B - yet another diversion (Histon Road, May 10-22)

As if passengers on the Busway B service haven't had enough of diversions in the past year, here's another one coming along on Monday 10 May.

Between 10 and 22 May, Histon Road will be completely closed - i.e. in both directions - close to the Domino's Pizza outlet, meaning that the city end of Histon Road is cut off from the remainder. Buses will divert via Gilbert Road, Mitchams Corner and Victoria Avenue (and the reverse for outbound services). The Shire Hall, Round Church St and Jesus Lane stops will be out of use for the duration of the diversion.

Buses will call additionally at any of the stops in Gilbert Road and by the Westbrook Centre, Milton Road. (They already serve any "regular" stops along Histon Road.)

Why? Anglian Water have to deal with a collapsed sewer. Fingers crossed that the work is completed on time...

Stagecoach timetable changes from 10 May - southern section

Stagecoach are making further changes to the Busway timetable - this time affecting only the southern section of the Busway. I'm guessing that the continuing lack of traffic within Cambridge city means that schedules can be further accelerated (and long may that continue, if not the underlying reason...).

So, from Sunday 10 May, buses will operate 5 minutes earlier from Cambridge rail station through to Trumpington Park&Ride and Royston. In the opposite direction, buses will start 7 minutes later and run 7 minutes later throughout between Royston/Trumpington Park&Ride and Parkside.

The latest version of the temporary Busway timetable is available here

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Bank Holiday Friday, 8 May

All Busway services are operating a Sunday timetable on the forthcoming Bank Holiday, Friday 8 May. Don't forget that temporary timetables are in operation as well. Services B, D & U will be running, therefore, with the U runnning to/from the Biomedical Campus. Essential travel only, of course.

Timetable links:

Stagecoach
Whippet


Sunday, 26 April 2020

Orchard Park closure, 28-29 April - NOW CANCELLED

Ignore this post - the planned works are, well, no longer planned! CANCELLED, indeed.

It's hard to keep up!


The Busway B service is affected by roadworks in Orchard Park on 28 and 29 April. Buses will not serve Orchard Park on these dates. Would-be passengers can use the Cambridge Road stops instead (the regular "diversion" stops) - or, at the other end of Orchard Park catch a D from their nearest stop.

A reminder that, for the time being, route B is extended to the Biomedical Campus and Trumpington Park & Ride.

And, for those who live near to Histon Road, a further reminder that the B is currently serving all stops along Histon Road. Stick your hand out, or press the bell, as appropriate. You don't have to wait for a Citi 8.

The complete temporary Busway timetable can be found here.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Stagecoach timetables from 5 April

Further significant shrinkage of Stagecoach's Busway services will take place on Sunday 5 April.

In addition to timetable changes, there are route changes. And it's worth noting, in particular, that Pine Hills, Brampton and Buckden will no longer be served (although the 66 provides an alternative service for the last two of these).

The list of changes is too extensive to document here. Instead, if you need to travel, there is a full explanation on the Stagecoach website.

And you can download a copy of the temporary timetable here,

Monday, 30 March 2020

Whippet - temporary changes from 30 March

Whippet operate the Universal (U) service, whose route includes the Busway section between the main railway station and the Biomedical Campus. From today, 30 March, there are (temporarily) minor changes to the weekday timetable, to take account of the much emptier roads (which means taking the slack out of the timetable).

At weekends, the U will serve the Biomedical Campus on both Saturdays and Sundays - this will be the first time that any of the southern Busway has had regular Sunday services. In addition, weekend services will start earlier and end later.

Full information, including a link to the temporary timetable, is on the Whippet website.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Busway reopens 30 March - but with temporary timetables

At last! The "temporary" diversion, avoiding the Busway A14 overbridge, is finally going to be lifted, and services will revert to their original routes on Monday 30 March. This will be particularly important for Orchard Park passengers, who have been using the "wrong" stops for 9 months.

However, as previously mentioned, the introduction of Stagecoach's improved Busway timetables has been postponed for a second time. Instead - and for reasons that don't need spelling out here - a reduced service will be introduced on that date. What Stagecoach term an "enhanced Sunday service" will operate Monday-Saturday. It's not quite as bad as that makes it sound - there are certainly additional peak-hour services, and the evening journeys have been retained as well. Service R will be suspended. Sunday services continue unchanged.

Full details, including links to the temporary timetables, are available on the Stagecoach website.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

New bus timetables

The timetable changes planned for March 29 will now happen on an as yet unspecified date (although the timetables themselves are currently available for viewing on Traveline). See the revised announcement from Stagecoach:

https://www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/east/busway-service-changes-spring-2020-facts-and-questions

There’s going to be a huge shake up of Stagecoach’s busway services starting from 29th March. Full details at

https://www.stagecoachbus.com/media-library/files/east/busway_-_we_re_adjusting_our_timetables_-_leaflet_website.pdf?la=en



Bus diversions on Sunday 8 March

Because of the Cambridge Half Marathon, the needs of the travelling public will once again be very low down the list of priorities, both services B and D severely disrupted.


Busway B
Both Directions
UNTIL 11:30
We will be unable to serve stops on Victoria Avenue, New Square and in the City Centre. During this time, our route towards the City Centre will end at Henry Giles House (Job Centre) on Chesterton Road, and journeys towards St Ives will begin at Mitcham's Corner (outside the Westbrook Centre) .

From 11:30 until 14:00
Journeys will now be able to serve Drummer Street Bus Station, but we will still be unable to serve Victoria Avenue and New Square in both directions. Passengers for these stops are advised to use Drummer Street Bus Station as an alternative.

Busway D
Towards St Ives
UNTIL 11:30
We will be unable to serve stops on New Square, Victoria Avenue, Mitchams Corner and all stops on Milton Road. During this time please use alternative stops located at Cambridge City Centre or at Cambridge Science Park.
From 11:30 until 14:00
We will be unable to serve stops on New Square, Victoria Avenue and Mitchams Corner. During this time please use alternative stops located at Cambridge City Centre or at Union Lane, Milton Road.
Towards Cambridge City Centre
UNTIL 11:30
We will be unable to serve stops on Mitcham's Corner, Victoria Avenue and New Square. During this time please use alternative stops located at Cambridge City Centre or at Union Lane, Milton Road.
From 11:30 until 14:00
We will be unable to serve stops on New Square and Victoria Avenue. During this time please use alternative stops located at Cambridge City Centre or at Mitcham's Corner

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Busway damage delaying reopening

Just heard on Monday's Chris Mann show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire @9:34, Richard Wood,  secretary of the Cambridge area bus users' group said that the busway had been damaged recently by, presumably, the A14 upgrade works. No further information - if anyone knows anything please comment here!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

New timetables - postponed!

Stagecoach had been planning to introduce new Busway timetables on 1 March (following on from last year's consultation, and the acquisition of additional vehicles). Although the intended timetables are now available to view on Traveline, the rather more important piece of news at this stage is their introduction has been postponed to "an as yet unspecified date". This date will presumably be the one when Highways England and Cambridgeshire County Council finally manage to reopen the stretch of Busway between Histon and Orchard Park. Anyone like to hazard a date for this (I feel I should offer a box of chocolates for the most accurate estimate...)?

Flooding - 18 February

It was still flooded between Fen Drayton and Swavesey when I looked yesterday. But the water is now quite shallow, and there were signs that it might be possible to cycle through. I didn’t try it though.

Now the Great Ouse has flooded again, and it’s not possible to cycle or walk from St Ives Park & Ride to Fen Drayton Lakes.


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Flooding continues - 13 February

A picturesque scene. The Cambridgeshire Lake District.
But not so good when you realise that the busway cycle track is still under water between Fen Drayton and Swavesey.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Busway diversion extended YET AGAIN!

Some of those who read this blog may be old enough to remember the time before the Busway was closed between Histon and Orchard Park whilst Highways England worked on the A14 overbridge. Others will simply be too new/young to remember that time.

Well, guess what? The closure (and resulting diversion) is set to continue. According to Highways England: "The new anticipated re-opening date is early March." Keep that date in mind, and we can all return to it in, say, 3 weeks time.

Whilst it's Highways England that is responsible for the never-ending closure - and for preventing Stagecoach introducing new timetables (originally planned for 1 March, but presumably delayed until the diversion is removed) - the County Council hardly covers itself in glory either. At the time of writing, the Council's dedicated Busway website still maintains the fiction that the Busway will reopen in "mid-January". Don't passengers deserve better information than that (the relevant page doesn't seem to have been updated since late-October)? What's happening to money that large-scale developers (e.g. of the Eddington site) are required to pay the County Council for Busway operation/promotion/management?

Full details of the further delay, and Highways England's sort-of-apology ("high-level discussions are taking place on a daily basis"...), can be found in a Cambridge Independent news item.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Flooding 2nd February

Still flooded between Fen Drayton Lakes and Swavesey, though water level has dropped slightly since  I last posted.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Flooding - 26 January

It’s possible now to cycle or walk between St Ives and Fen Drayton Lakes, but there is a lot of debris on the track, so take care.



Between Fen Drayton Lakes and Swavesey, the cycle track is under water, so a detour off the busway is still necessary.



This map extract may help. Please note that the drove which runs past Swavesey Windmill is only designated as a footpath, not a bridleway.






Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Flooding update - 22 January

The flood gates are closed across the cycle track.

Cycle route between Fen Drayton and Swavesey.

Water still covering the track near St Ives.
These photos were taken today (22 Jan) to illustrate that the cycle track is still flooded. The gates are closed across the track near St Ives Park & Ride and Swavesey, which should indicate to walkers and cyclists not to proceed any further. But still there are nutters who risk their safety by walking and wheeling their bikes along the grassy strip next to the bus track.
It looks as if it will soon be possible to cycle from St Ives to Fen Drayton Lakes, as the water level is rapidly dropping. You might be able to get through on foot if wearing wellies.
East of Fen Drayton Lakes, the flooding seems likely to persist for sone time (se David Parish’s posts). But it is possible to avoid this stretch by detouring via gravel tracks to Swavesey, and rejoin the busway there.

Flooding Update

Last week there was more rain, and the track is now flooded deeper than it was.

Track past the Trout Pond 21st January 2020.
Note the top of the fence behind the ditch is only just visible above the water.

The pipe draining into Covills drain is well under water, but obviously flowing because of the amount of turbulence on the the water above the outlet.
Turbulence above the submerged pipe outlet into Colvills drain. 21st January 2020.
Towards the river Ouse, there is a much larger flow of water - draining the Ferry Lagoon into Colvills drain - back over the breach in the bank.
Water flowing back over the breach in Colvills drain bank. 21st January 2020.
After the level falls a bit more, this flow will stop.

Even if there is no more rain, based on previous experience, it will take at least into March before this section of the track is drained.


Saturday, 11 January 2020

Timetable changes from 13 January

[UPDATE 13 Jan, 0835. A friend spotted Stagecoach's announcement of the changes detailed below on the Stagecoach East "Promos and Offers" web page - yes really! That's the only place the information is provided - and it's less complete than my attempt below.

Here are links to: (a) the announcement, and (b) the new timetable.

Enjoy!]

======

I was taken by surprise at St Ives Station Road stop this morning to see a new departure sheet posted. I've checked both the Stagecoach and County Council Busway websites and can find no details of changes to services (or even a simple announcement). But new timetables are available from Traveline, and I've attempted below to identify the changes involved.

Note, first, that there are no changes to Sunday services.

As for the rest of the week (including Saturdays)... The most significant changes are to routes A and D. There seems to be a significant increase in journey times on the stretch between Orchard Park and St Ives town centre. How is this reflected in the timetable?

On city-bound trips, most services will depart St Ives 7 minutes (or thereabouts) earlier than at present, and operate 7 (or so) minutes earlier to Orchard Park. Thereafter timings seem unchanged.

On St Ives-bound trips, most services will depart from the city stops as at present, but after Orchard Park will run 7 (or so) minutes later than at present.

There seem to be changes to how the services are being organised in St Ives beyond the town centre. In addition to changes to the times of buses, there may be some switching of routes between the A and the D (and possibly changes to the routes themselves). Check the new timetable carefully!

The first Mon-Fri departure from Ramsey will be at 0605 (i.e. 15 minutes earlier than at present). Morning departures from other villages and towns into St Ives and Cambridge are 5-10 minutes earlier than previously.

There are changes to the routes taken by both services inside the Biomedical Campus. Southbound services will call at the Royal Papworth only as they leave the campus. Northbound services will call at the Royal Papworth only as they first enter the campus.

There are minor changes on route B, affecting - so far as I can see - only the indicative times at intermediate stops. So, for example, outbound services will notionally call at Shire Hall 3 minutes after leaving Drummer St, 2 minutes earlier than at present. (But this seems a pointless change, since it's rare for buses to arrive by the indicative time even on the 5-minute schedule, so why they're any more likely to reach the Shire Hall a full 2 minutes sooner defies logic!)

There seem to be no changes to services south of Trumpington, nor to route B services north of St Ives.

I apologise if I've missed something that's key to an individual reader's particular journey, but there was a lot of data to wade through. And I was aware that those of you heading off for your Monday commute might appreciate some advance warning.

(When I checked at 2300 on Jan 11 the new timetables were not available on the Stagecoach website, only from Traveline.)

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Why does the track take so long to drain?

Thanks to Andrew's last post showing how flooded the track still is. I agree this will take a while to drain (typically at least a month when this stretch floods)

But why?

I observe as follows:

With reference to this RSPB leaflet with map:

The stretch that takes ages to drain is where the busway passes between the Trout Pond and Ferry Lagoon.
Typically this section is not the first to flood. Rather the river has to very high before it does flood. But when it floods the water gets trapped.

Covills drain is not marked on the map - it lies just east of the Trout Pond, and runs south to north and drains into the Great Ouse through a flood control gate. Cyclists can identify it by the wedge shaped chunk of concrete across the path where it crosses the east bank of the drain.

When the water gets very high, Covills drain overflows its west bank, pouring water into the Ferry Lagoon. This happened 2 weeks ago.
The observant will note that the west bank of Covills drain is deliberately lower than the east bank (there is only one concrete wedge, not two). This is so the lakes flood in preference to Swavesey.

There is a culvert under the busway just west of the west bank of Colvills drain, balancing the Ferry Lagoon and the Trout Pond. So when water flows into the Ferry Lagoon, it passes through this culvert, and raises the Trout Pond which overflows and floods this stretch of the path.

But how does it drain?  Once the level has got back down to the top of the Colvills drain bank - very slowly.

If you walk along the east bank of Colvills drain about 50-100m north of the busway, you will see across the drain the end of a pipe, which drains the surplus water from Ferry Lagoon through the west bank back into Colvills Drain.

As far as I know (but I am happy to be corrected if anyone knows better) this is the total drainage from the Ferry Lagoon + Trout Pond back towards the river.

This is not very big to drain all that trapped water down by about 1m.  And as the draining continues, the difference in height falls, so the flow through the pipe drops too.


The above photo, taken 31 December, shows water coming out of the pipe - which is completely submersed under water.


This photo, I took a few years ago, looking down on the outlet, with the water lower, shows the flap over the end of the pipe, to prevent water flowing back into the Ferry Lagoon from Covills drain. The flap is pushed open when the water flows in the intended direction, as it is here.

But why is this flow so restricted?

Cycle track flooding update

This photo, taken from the bus this morning, shows the busway cycle track is under water between Swavesey and Fen Drayton. From past experience, the water is likely to remain here for some time.

Saturday 11th January - still flooded.

Thirsday 16th January - now flooded between St Ives Park & Ride and Fen Drayton Lakes, as well as from Fen Drayton to Swavesey.

Monday, 6 January 2020

New closure of cycle track

The busway cycle track between Histon and Orchard Park will close for a month while repairs are carried out. This is the section of busway affected by the A14 widening works, and has been closed to buses for half a year, with buses diverted meanwhile.
https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cyclepath-guided-busway-a14-closure-17508409