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Coachways vision policy context in the East of England

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There are presently no specific policies on express coaches in the most recent East of England Regional Transport Strategy which includes a related, but higher level priority for the inter-urban transport network, to enable "a higher proportion of travel to be made by public transport" alongside "targeted highway improvements on the strategic and regional road network" (East of England Local Government Association 2010 p.59).

It is notable that the preceding draft Regional Transport Strategy included a more explicit policy on coach services. This set out an intention to provide "facilities to support and encourage high quality interuban bus / coach services, particularly east-west links and other situations where rail is not available, co-ordinated with rail and local public transport" (GOEE 2008 p.42). However, this coach policy has subsequently been removed.



The present transport strategy replaces the Regional Planning Guidance for East Anglia (GOEE 2000), published in 2000. Whilst neither of these policy documents contain or contained a specific strategy for the region's coach network, there were a number of related developments in the period between their publication.

Most notably, the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway is now nearing completion, though there have been a number of technical problems which have delayed opening (Cambridgeshire County Council 2010). The scheme provides a highly segregated express busway between Huntigdon, St Ives and Cambrigde and was first proposed in the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study (Mouchel 2001).

Indeed, a significant number of transport studies have been carried out in the area over the last ten years (see Regional transport policy timeline below). And through these, several potential high quality bus and coach corridors have been identified (as listed under Coach scheme aspirations below).

Nevertheless it is apparent that proposals to enhance inter-urban bus and coach services in the region are emerging in a somewhat piecemeal fashion. With respect to the Coachways vision, there is potential for a more strategic approach to now be taken, to develop a coherent plan for an East of England regional coach network.

The A14 improvement scheme

In December 2011, the Department for Transport launched the A14 Challenge, a consultation exercise to consider options for alleviating congestion on the A14 trunk road between Ellington (near Huntingdon) and Fen Ditton (near Cambridge). A previous plan to develop the road had been dropped because it was too expensive (BBC 2012)

Following consideration of a range of scheme options by consultants Atkins (2012), the Department for Transport (2012a) announced a revised package of measures for the A14. These include:

  • Widening of the Cambridge Northern Bypass between Milton and Girton and enhancement of the Girton Interchange;
  • Provision of high standard roads for local traffic use running in parallel to an enhanced A14 carriageway between Girton and the area near the current Trinity Foot A14 junction;
  • Construction of a bypass to the south of Huntingdon between the area near Trinity Foot and the A1, at both ends tying in with the existing A14.
  • Commercial express bus services between Peterborough and Cambridge;
  • A new park & ride site at Alconbury;
  • Park & ride bus services to Cambridge via the Busway; and
  • A new ‘Number 5’ local bus service from Bar Hill to Cambridge via Science Park and Cambridge Science Park station.

An illustration of these measures (indicative only) is shown below. Funding for the scheme will be raised in part by tolling a length of the enhanced A14.

The provision of new express coach services along the corridor was not considered during the appraisal process. The public transport measures that were shortlisted tended to be linked to the recently opened Cambridgeshire Guided Busway and included the provision of new or enhanced conventional bus or Busway services, and additional park and ride sites along the corridor (Atkins 2012).

A14 Scheme.JPG

Regional transport policy timeline

Date Development
November 2000 A new Regional Transport Strategy is included in RPG6:Regional Planning Guidance for East Anglia to 2016 (GOEE 2000).
November 2001 The Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study is published (Mouchel 2001).
December 2002 The London to Ipswich Multi-Modal Study is published (Mott Macdonald 2002).
January 2003 Faber Maunsell publish a report on the East of England Regional Transport Strategy (Faber Maunsell 2003).
March 2003 The Norwich to Peterborough Multi-Modal Study is published (Atkins 2003).
February 2004 The London to Southend Movement Study is published (Hyder 2004).
August 2005 The Newmarket to Felixstowe Corridor Study is published (Integrated Transport Planning Ltd 2005).
June 2007 The Haven Gateway to Ipswich A14 Corridor Study is published (Atkins 2007).
May 2008 The draft East of England Plan: The Revision to the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England is published (GOEE 2008). The plan includes a new draft Regional Transport Strategy.
November 2009 The East of England Transport and Carbon Study is published (Atkins 2009).
March 2010 The final East of England Plan to 2031 (the Regional Spatial Strategy) is approved (East of England Local Government Association 2010). The plan includes a new Regional Transport Strategy.
May 2010 A new Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government is formed. Regional Spatial Strategies and Regional Transport Strategies are abolished.
June 2012 Plans for expansion of the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton are produced following the 'A14 Challenge' to identify solutions to congestion on the A14 (Department for Transport 2012b).

Recently completed coach schemes

There are no known recently completed coach network schemes in the region.

Coach schemes currently in progress

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway: A highly segregated busway linking Huntingdon and St Ives to Cambridge. The busway was due to open in late 2009, but there have been delays due to a number of technical issues with the guide ways amongst other things (Cambridgeshire County Council 2010).

Coach scheme proposals

There are no known proposals for coach network schemes in the region.

Coach scheme aspirations

Colchester to Stansted Airport High Quality Bus and Coach Corridor: Identified in the London to Ipswich Multi Modal Study (Mott Macdonald 2002). Priority measures for buses and coaches would be introduced along the A120.

Ipswich to Sudbury High Quality Bus and Coach Corridor: Identified in the London to Ipswich Multi Modal Study (Mott Macdonald 2002). Priority measures for buses and coaches would be introduced along the A1071.

Maldon to Witham High Quality Bus and Coach Corridor: Identified in the London to Ipswich Multi Modal Study (Mott Macdonald 2002). Priority measures for buses and coaches would be introduced along the B1019.

Chelmsford to Harlow Quaility Bus and Coach Corridor: Included in the forecasting used to inform the East of England Transport Carbon Study (Atkins 2009 p.165).

Southend to Standsted Airport Quality Bus and Coach Corridor: Included in the forecasting used to inform the East of England Transport Carbon Study (Atkins 2009 p.165).

Norwich to Peterborough Express Bus Service: Identified in the Norwich to Peterborough Multi Modal Study (Atkins 2003). This recommended a "gradual upgrade in service frequency [the Excel X94 service] along the length of the route" (Atkins 2003, Final Report p7-21).

Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Bus Services: The Norwich to Great Yarmouth Study (Maunsell, Faber 2001) recommended increased bus services along the A47 between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and along the A146 between Norwich and Lowestoft.

Thames Gateway Inter-urban bus network: The London to Southend movement study (Hyder 2004) made a recommendation "to expand and improve further the inter-urban bus networks" along the following corridors:

  • Grays to Basildon
  • Basildon to Southend

A14 Corridor Express Coaches: The A14 runs between Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Felixstowe. The Newmarket to Felixstowe corridor study put forward the option of creating a network of inter-urban coach services linking park and ride sites located along the A14 at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge (Integrated Transport Planning Ltd 2005 Final Report p119). The study recommended that further work was required to establish how express coaches might compliment improved rail services in the corridor (Integrated Transport Planning Ltd 2005 Final Report p120).

An express coach network was subsequently included in the long list of options appraised in the Haven Gateway Ipswich A14 Corridor Study (Atkins 2007), but was not shortlisted as a candidate for delivery.

As part of the Cambridgeshire Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) bid discussions with stakeholders, Cambridgeshire County Council also noted the potential for Park and Ride sites to be used as hubs by coach lines. Cambridge currently has two Park and Ride sites along the A14 that could be used for this purpose (Dialogue by Design 2008, p.8).

See also


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