Your feedback and our response
This chapter provides a summary of your feedback and our response to the main comments raised in relation to proposals for Hauxton Road level crossing, Shepreth Junction, the additional tracks on the approach to Cambridge and Cambridge station itself.
Throughout this section text in italics is our response to the matters raised in your feedback.
Hauxton Road level crossing
Respondents commented on various aspects of Hauxton Road level crossing (including local communities, accessibility, road congestion), as well as the potential impacts of EWR such as habitat loss in the surrounding environment.
Impact of EWR on Hauxton Road level crossing
Respondents raised comments in support of the closure of Hauxton Road level crossing, including the construction of a bridge or underpass as an alternative to the crossing to increase safety.
Cambridgeshire County Council said that it is highly likely that a replacement bridge or bridges over the railway for vehicular, pedestrian and cycle traffic would be needed for the level crossing closure to mitigate the impact on users.
Network Rail welcomed the closure of Hauxton Road level crossing and advised that proposals should consider the impacts on users and the environment.
Hauxton Road provides a link between the villages of Hauxton and Little Shelford. The level crossing is passed by 166 trains (both passenger and freight) per day. This is equal to around 11 trains per hour (one train every five minutes). The new EWR services between Bedford and Cambridge would introduce an additional four trains per hour in each direction, making a total of approximately five trains every 15 minutes (one train every three minutes), resulting in an increase in the time the barriers would need to be closed to allow trains to pass.
As a result, we have identified the need for an updated risk assessment for Hauxton Road level crossing to account for the increased train services introduced by the Project. Depending on the outcome, we may need to close the level crossing to make sure that the enhanced services can operate reliably and safely.
If the level crossing does need to be closed then we would consider several options, including the provision of a diversion or a grade-separated replacement (such as a road bridge), either for general traffic or restricted to those walking, wheeling and cycling.
We will provide further details of our proposed solution at the statutory consultation, which we expect to take place in the first half of 2024. We will then consider feedback received as we further develop our proposals before submitting a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to authorise our final proposals in this area.
Respondents raised concerns about the potential impact the proposal could have on the surrounding environment. There were suggestions that the proposal could have detrimental effects to the local wildlife. Respondents were particularly concerned about the adverse effects on the water meadows between Little Shelford and Hauxton, as well as the rare bat maternity roosts in the area.
We consider the environment in all the decisions we make, and we are developing ways to allow the Project to be delivered in an environmentally responsible manner. We recognise the importance of biodiversity and protecting the habitats of local wildlife, including priority habitats such as woodland and ancient woodland, as well as parks and greenspaces. As part of our commitment to changing the environment for the better, we are thinking carefully about protected species and their habitats when designing the railway. We will continue to undertake environmental surveys, including habitats and species-specific surveys, as we develop our proposals which will allow us to develop mitigation options for any potential effects on wildlife – such as impact on barbastelle bat foraging zones.
We are aware of the value of the water environment that the route will pass over or near to, including water meadows such as those between Little Shelford and Hauxton. We will identify surface water and groundwater features that have the potential to influence or be influenced by the proposed route. We will assess the impacts on watercourses, wetlands, aquifers and associated habitats, and consider the potential effects both up and downstream. We will also take into account geomorphology and the wider value that the water environment provides in terms of habitats and biodiversity.
Our survey results will form a part of the Environmental Impact Assessment, (EIA) which we'll present in the Environmental Statement, (ES) submitted to support our DCO application. A Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) will be published at the statutory consultation. The mitigation measures for specific locations will be developed alongside the developing design and further details will be consulted on at the statutory consultation.
Alternative provisions for Hauxton Road level crossing
Respondents raised concerns about the alternative provisions that could be constructed should Hauxton Road level crossing close. This includes the construction of footbridges (which some respondents consider to be unsightly), new diversionary routes and underpasses.
No decision has yet been made about whether the level crossing at Hauxton Road needs to be closed, so it is not confirmed whether a new bridge, underpass or diversionary route may be needed. Factors for consideration would include the location of the crossing, cost and whether this would be used by all traffic or restricted to active travel modes. We note that placing the railway or a road in a cutting or underpass would cost more than other options and might have greater environmental impacts. This is due to a combination of factors, including the need to ensure suitable ground stability, the cost of removing soil from the area, higher embedded carbon as a consequence of concrete retaining walls and potential impacts on groundwater levels due to the excavations. We'll provide further details of our proposed solution at the statutory consultation.
Respondents raised concerns about the impact that closing Hauxton Road level crossing would have on the local communities, including a reduction in quality of life because of increased train numbers. There were concerns about a loss of community cohesion and participation in Little Shelford’s village life. Respondents also raised concerns about devaluation of property prices.
We haven't yet made a final decision about whether Hauxton Road level crossing would be closed; to inform this decision, we'll consider how the crossing is currently used and how its closure might impact local communities. We'll also undertake an updated risk assessment. This will determine whether the crossing would continue to comply with rail industry safety standards as the number of trains in each direction increases.
If a decision is made to close the crossing, we'll consider how the connection could be maintained for general traffic use or use by active travel users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. This could include creating a diversion, or a grade-separated crossing, such as a bridge. We'd manage construction-related impacts on the environment, as far as reasonably practicable, through a Code of Construction Practice (CoCP), or an equivalent document, submitted as part of the DCO application. This would include measures to control impacts related to construction noise and vibration, air quality, contaminated land, ecology, historic environment, construction traffic, tree protection, surface and groundwater management, waste management and general site operations.
We're continuing to develop designs, which include taking account of and managing effects on properties, including residences. As part of the statutory consultation process, we're required to state exactly which homes (as well as all other types of property), if any, would be required for the Project, and to engage with their owners.
Impact on roads
Respondents commented on the potential impact along Hauxton Road if the crossing is closed, with local residents raising concerns that congestion would increase traffic exiting via Church Road, and on roads such as the A10, M11 and Donkey Lane. Concerns were also raised that the removal of the level crossing would make travel for cyclists and pedestrians dangerous.
We’ll continue to investigate the potential effects of a closure of the level crossing, including on the roads identified by the respondents, and develop potential mitigation strategies. If diversions are required, we'll consider the potential impact to the local road network and the needs of road users including school children, buses, and the emergency services. We'll consider the safety of diversions to both cyclists and pedestrians. We'll continue to work with local highway authorities to identify and assess potential mitigations and our work will be informed by ongoing traffic modelling and surveys in the area.
We'll provide an update on the proposed measures at the statutory consultation, where the public and other key stakeholders will be able to give feedback.
Respondents raised concerns about the loss of agricultural land if the level crossing closed at Hauxton Road.
We understand the importance of agricultural land to the local communities, and we'll aim to develop measures that avoid, reduce or mitigate impacts on this land. As part of this, we're exploring potential methods to reduce the impact of the railway on agricultural land holdings and soil resources. We'll continue to work with landowners, occupiers and land managers to gather information that will help inform the design process.
Respondents commented that there should be consideration for a new station and level crossing on Hauxton Road to provide a travel link to Cambridge.
It is unlikely that a new station would be provided in this location because of the reduction in overall line capacity resulting from trains having to slow down and stop. A new station would require additional infrastructure, such as additional tracks between the new junction where EWR joins the existing rail network, and Shepreth Junction and alterations to bridges, which would also increase costs and require the acquisition of more land.
General support for proposal
Respondents supported closing Hauxton Road level crossing, stating that it is dangerous. Respondents also expressed support for closing it to cars only, suggesting this would relieve traffic congestion in and around the area.
Hauxton Road provides a link between Hauxton village and Little Shelford. Currently, the level crossing is passed by around 11 trains per hour. Should the EWR service become operational, this would introduce an additional four trains per hour in each direction, causing the barrier downtime to increase.
We'll undertake a risk assessment for Hauxton Road level crossing to account for the increased train services that the Project would introduce. Depending on the outcome of that assessment, we may need to close the level crossing so that the enhanced services could operate reliably and safely. In the event of any closure, we'd make sure that there would still be car access either via a diversionary route or a grade-separated crossing.
Respondents commented on various aspects of Shepreth Junction, including the potential impacts of the development to local communities and the environment, as well as highlighting differing views about at-grade or grade-separated options.
We received comments opposing the development of Shepreth Junction; in particular, using a grade-separated option, which it was felt could negatively impact current rail use.
Network Rail said that proposed modifications to the Shepreth Junction should take into account future service requirements.
In order to deliver the objectives of the Project, the new railway would need to join the existing network so that all new services could access Cambridge stations. A two-track line is not a viable option as upgrades would be required to provide the capacity for new train services without affecting existing services already in place. So that EWR could run without impacting on existing services, the West Anglia Main Line (WAML) between Shepreth Junction and Cambridge would need to be upgraded, including the replacement of the current junction.
An at-grade solution would result in EWR services sharing the westernmost pair of tracks into Cambridge and using platforms to the west side of Cambridge station. A grade-separated solution would require a flyover for EWR services to share the easternmost pair of tracks using platforms on the east side of Cambridge station.
We recognise that both at-grade and grade-separated options would potentially impact local communities and the environment. Whilst no decision has been made, at present, we do not envisage that grade-separation will be needed at Shepreth Junction (near Great Shelford) in order to accommodate the new EWR services. An update will be provided at the statutory consultation. The potential costs of each option, including in its construction and operation, will be one of the factors we'd take into consideration when deciding on a preferred option.
Impact of the proposed grade-separated junction on local communities
We received comments expressing concerns that the development of a grade-separated Shepreth Junction would have negative effects on local communities, including a reduction in quality of life, loss of property value and increase in urban sprawl.
To provide sufficient capacity on the line into Cambridge, we'd need to modify the junction. No decision has yet been taken on the final option for the new junction design and, while we may need to acquire land for the construction and permanent operation of either option, we don't currently think that this would require the acquisition of residential properties near the line.
Further details of our proposals for the new junction will be available at the statutory consultation. There will also be a preliminary assessment of the potential environmental impacts – including on locally significant buildings and nearby housing, and any possible need to acquire land. Should land be required, qualifying landowners would have a legal entitlement to compensation, managed via the Proposed Need to Sell Property Scheme. We explain this further on our website.
For the owners-occupiers of properties which would need to be acquired in part or wholly to construct the railway, unaffected market value compensation would be provided in accordance with the Compensation Code as explained in the Guide to Compulsory Acquisition and Compensation.
Where no land is taken, under Part I of the Land Compensation Act 1973 property owners may be eligible to claim compensation (e.g. the person who owns and lives in the property, or a leaseholder with at least three years to run as at the date of the claim) for reduction in the value of the property due to physical factors caused by the use of a new or altered railway, which is explained further in the guide on the EWR Co website: Guide to Part 1 Claims.
When we submit our application for the DCO this will show the details of the land required. Landowners and leaseholders would then be able to use the provisions of Statutory Blight to require EWR Co to purchase the land identified and this is explained further in the guide on the EWR Co website: Guide to Statutory Blight Notices.
Regarding ‘urban sprawl’, the engineering solution for Shepreth Junction does not dictate where or if any residential or commercial development would take place; this is a decision made by the local planning authority. Our objective for the railway is to provide new, fast, reliable connections for existing residents and businesses as well as for future development, so that people opt to travel via train, rather than road.
Impact on roads
Respondents were concerned that local roads and pathways would be affected as a result of the new junction, with many highlighting that the alteration or closure of the A1301 bridge could increase congestion levels.
There would inevitably be some impacts to roads and pathways. Where closures or diversions of public access routes are required, we'd seek to mitigate impacts – for example, by providing suitable diversions during temporary works or through the provision of a new bridge or underpass. We don't anticipate the permanent closure of the A1301, but we'd need to carry out temporary works in the construction of the new railway, which could cause some disruption.
We're aware that construction activities and traffic could have an impact on local residents and businesses while the new line is being built, such as through dust or noise. We'll prepare a CoCP or an equivalent document for the Project, which will explain the steps we'd take to reduce or mitigate disruption to local people and communities, and impacts on the environment during construction.
Track management and design
There were suggestions that careful design must be considered to avoid conflict between other lines and routes.
Shepreth Junction is currently the meeting point of the two-track Royston Branch line and the two-track WAML. This results in four separate tracks converging to two as they approach Cambridge. The existing two tracks north of the junction approaching Cambridge don't have the capacity for the additional trains that we'd provide, so the proposal is to increase the number of tracks to four. This means we'd need to modify the existing Shepreth Junction to allow for a new track layout to the north. We’ve considered a number of potential configurations of the four tracks. It is likely that the new EWR services would share the western pair of tracks to avoid conflicting train movements.
General support for proposal
Respondents expressed support for EWR proposals for Shepreth Junction highlighting that the Project would not have significant impacts, would result in greater train capacity and reduce congestion on roads around Cambridge. Respondents supported four tracking, with both at-grade and grade-separated options appearing as viable.
Network Rail said that four tracking from Shepreth Junction to Cambridge station would be essential to accommodating both EWR and WAML services in the area.
We'd need to increase the two track railway from Shepreth Junction into Cambridge station to four tracks to allow for the forecast demand from EWR. Also, modifications at Shepreth Junction would be needed to ensure reliable performance of EWR and non-EWR services.
Shepreth Junction could be re-configured to be either grade-separated or at-grade. A grade-separated junction would allow our new services from the Royston Branch line to cross the WAML on a new flyover. This would mean that trains could access the easternmost tracks on the way into Cambridge with fewer conflicts with the path of other services, such as Greater Anglia trains between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street.
An at-grade option would have a lower vertical alignment and therefore a lesser visual impact than a grade-separated junction. Both options have the potential to reduce congestion and accommodate the freight services as identified in the Programme-Wide Output Specification (PWOS).
EWR would reduce congestion on local roads as a result of passengers shifting from car to train. Lorry traffic would be taken off the roads with the accommodation of freight services as identified in the PWOS.
We’ll coordinate with work being undertaken by Network Rail in connection with the construction of the new Cambridge South station.
The level crossing on Granham’s Road and crossing the WAML would not see any increased traffic as a result of the EWR Project. The upgrade or replacement of this level crossing would be for safety or other reasons and therefore falls outside of the scope of this Project.
Additional tracks on the approach to Cambridge station
Respondents commented on various aspects of track expansion, including the impacts to Shepreth Junction, Addenbrooke’s Road bridge, Long Road, and the potential expansion to four tracks. We’ve combined these comments in this section. Respondents expressed support for the proposals, suggesting that four tracks would be necessary to provide sufficient future capacity.
We’ve been tasked by the Department for Transport (DfT) to deliver a service that increases capacity without affecting current services. Preliminary analysis indicated that to achieve the additional capacity in line with forecast demand, the WAML between Shepreth Junction and Cambridge would need to be upgraded from two to four tracks. This would allow all new EWR services to operate without disrupting existing services.
Respondents raised concerns that there is insufficient space for four tracks on the route into Cambridge.
Between Shepreth Junction and the A1134 Long Road bridge, the WAML currently has two tracks. To afford the projected increase in demand, EWR would increase the number of tracks in this section to four, except where the new Cambridge South station project would have already upgraded parts of the line between Shepreth Junction and the new station to four tracks. Current information suggests that the new tracks could be constructed within the railway boundary with no adverse impact on the Scheduled Monument to the west of the WAML.
Just north of Long Road, there are three tracks on the existing railway. The third track may need renewing, but we'd only need to construct one new track for the 1.5km section from this point into Cambridge station. Current information suggests this new fourth track could be built entirely within existing Network Rail land boundaries without the need for any permanent property acquisition or demolition.
Shepreth Junction to Addenbrooke’s Road bridge
Respondents raised concerns about the potential impact of this proposal on the Addenbrooke’s to Great Shelford Cycleway. They argued that this should be maintained as many already use this as a sustainable transport link.
Respondents also raised concerns that the proposed plans for expanded tracks would lead to significant disruption to local communities such as Barrington, with disruption from increased traffic and road closures, noise pollution and a reduction in property value.
We’ve considered the potential impacts on public rights of way (PRoW), including the DNA Path between Great Shelford and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Our current design shows the new tracks to be located within the rail boundary and therefore not impacting on the DNA Path. We'll present updated information at the statutory consultation for comment.
Generally, we aim to enhance local connectivity and to encourage the use of active travel modes, including new and improved walking, wheeling and cycling routes, throughout the EWR corridor. We'd like bike and pedestrian travel to become a realistic and attractive choice for short journeys.
In order to deliver the objectives for the Project, it would be necessary for the new railway to join the existing network, so that the new services could access Cambridge station. This would require alterations and upgrades to the existing WAML, to provide sufficient capacity to run the new trains without adversely affecting capacity and resilience of the existing services. This would inevitably lead to some disruption for local communities, including potential impacts on local traffic levels and access routes around Addenbrookes Hospital and the Biomedical Campus. These potential impacts have been taken into account in our decision to approach Cambridge from the south, but it is important to note that disruption would arise regardless of how the new services would approach Cambridge.
We're aware of the potential impact of the railway on local residents and businesses, both whilst the new line is being built and when it is operational, and we'd look for opportunities to reduce or mitigate this where feasible. This includes taking account of the impact on property values (including where property may need to be subject to powers of compulsory acquisition), potential disturbance to local communities, noise, vibration and the impact of diesel emissions and particulates.
No decision has yet been taken as to our final proposals for this area, but as we continue to develop the design, we'll be paying particular regard to the potential impacts on the environment, the setting of the city of Cambridge and the surrounding villages, important vistas across the landscape, the green belt, local services and accessibility around the area, especially for people with protected characteristics, such as children, older people and disabled people, as well as commuters. Further details will be provided at the statutory consultation.
Long Road, Cambridge
Respondents expressed concern that the closure of Long Road would cause significant disruption to the local community including access to local facilities.
Cambridgeshire County Council state that EWR would need to ensure that the works
to replace Long Road bridge are managed to minimise disruption on the local transport network.
Respondents also voiced concerns that the proposed track expansion would have potential impacts to the green belt.
Others raised concerns that Roman archaeology would not be preserved in construction of the railway.
We may need some bridges to be altered to accommodate the proposed upgrade from two to four tracks and current proposals would require replacement of the Long Road bridge. While works are undertaken to the bridge, we'd need to put temporary traffic diversions in place.
We'll continue to assess the impact the railway may have on the environment and surrounding green belt area. Long Road is within the built-up area of Cambridge, so the green belt would not be affected by these works. We believe that the works could be carried out within the existing railway corridor and, at this stage, we don't think that we'd need to acquire adjacent buildings in the Trumpington area. We'll continue to consider impacts on heritage, adjacent land uses (such as schools and colleges), noise and vibration effects, and amenity impacts including impacts on playing fields and green space.
We recognise the value of the historic environment and the potential significance of known and unknown buried archaeology, including Roman archaeology, that could be impacted by the Project. We'll undertake a programme of non-intrusive and intrusive survey work to support the development of the design. Findings of this work will be reported, where available at this time, as part of the PEIR at the statutory consultation and then in further detail within the ES which would form part of the DCO application.
Respondents commented on various aspects of Cambridge station including capacity, design, and access, as well as highlighting the importance of us working strategically with other planned station improvement schemes.
Need for additional platforms
Respondents suggested that more platforms would need to be built at Cambridge station to allow for future growth.
Cambridgeshire County Council agreed that additional platforms would be required at Cambridge station.
Network Rail expressed concern that new platform facilities at Cambridge station and growth in passengers using EWR services could impact passenger circulation.
National Highways said that the upgraded stations at Cambridge would also become drivers for investment and development in the area.
We'd need to build additional platforms at Cambridge station to accommodate the new EWR service; we'd need to make alterations to existing platforms, as well as create new through platforms likely to be located on the east side of the station. Existing services in operation would not be affected by the additional platforms. Designs for the station will be presented at the statutory consultation for comment.
General opposition to the proposal
There was opposition to the use of Cambridge station by EWR trains, as respondents felt that the station is already busy enough.
Cambridge is a busy national railway station, with an estimated total of 10.95 million journeys starting or finishing at Cambridge station in 2018/19. The Project objectives set out by the DfT require new services to call at the station. Currently, the station does not have capacity to meet the forecast EWR demand and therefore new platforms and tracks would be required. The upgrades would allow the new station to accommodate the increased number of passengers, so both EWR and non EWR services could operate reliably.
Station layout and facilities
Respondents commented on the lack of facilities and the poor station layout at Cambridge station. Comments were made in particular about a lack of cycle storage facilities. Respondents suggested several ideas including lift improvements, the introduction of additional lifts, additional seating and display screens.
Network Rail said that any changes to platform layout would only be feasible if alternatives to the current sidings are provided or a satisfactory way of operating the sidings in their existing location are proposed. They stated that a preferred solution should be outlined at the statutory consultation.
We continue to engage with Network Rail in the development of our proposals. We're yet to make any decisions about the upgrade works at Cambridge station. We'll consider design options to modernise and expand the station including consideration of passenger information, ticketing facilities, seating, toilet provision, shops and refreshments, bicycle parking, and security. Proposals will be presented for comment at the statutory consultation.
Respondents commented on the poor accessibility to Cambridge station, suggesting that there would need to be an increase in the number of bus stops near the station, and pedestrian and cycle routes would need to be considered. There were suggestions that a new eastern entrance to the station should be created, as well as a new footbridge.
Cambridgeshire County Council suggested that the opportunity should be taken to provide an eastern access to the station as part of the works to provide the new platforms, and that a
second station footbridge would likely be required.
National Highways said that both the new demand arising from the station and the increase in demand associated with the subsequent growth around the station should be considered by EWR Co in station transport assessments and mitigation design.
Our main priority is to improve connectivity between Oxford and Cambridge. We'll consider Cambridge station’s location within the historic city centre, and the potential impact that increased numbers of people arriving to the station in various means of transport could have to the area. We'll continue to work with key transport providers, including the Greater Cambridge Partnership, to promote active and sustainable travel to and from the station. We'll also work with bus operators in Cambridge to improve facilities.
An eastern entrance to the station is not currently within our scope, however, we continue to engage with the local authority and with Network Rail to consider suitable solutions for the station.
Respondents raised concerns about an increase in traffic volumes in Cambridge because of the new services.
National Highways said they would require EWR Co to assess the impacts on the Strategic Road Network of both construction vehicle movements and traffic management associated with the delivery of EWR within the modelling approach and outputs agreed with the respondent.
Comprehensive traffic and transport modelling will help us assess the impact in traffic flows and volumes on the local road network as well as what mitigation measures might be needed. This includes how vehicles and active travel users access Station Road and modelling will take account of the baseline traffic and parking conditions.
It should be noted that resolving current traffic issues which are not attributable to the new railway falls outside of the scope of the Project; this is a matter for the relevant statutory authorities under their own legal frameworks and processes.
Freight and diesel trains
Respondents raised concerns about the impact of freight and diesel trains passing through Cambridge station.
EWR is principally intended to be a passenger route. It is, though, being designed to maintain current capacity for freight trains on the existing railway and we are considering the potential for future growth in demand for rail freight. We don’t yet know how much freight would use the railway, as this is subject to Government policy and market demand – and we haven’t confirmed the exact operating hours for the railway. As set out in the 2021 consultation, we currently envisage that EWR could accommodate roughly one freight train per hour in each direction, although the actual number of freight services is a matter for the wider industry and freight operators.
In 2018, the Government challenged the rail industry to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040, and we're committed to running a sustainable railway. We’re currently looking at how we could use new and emerging technologies within our long-term train fleet. Further details, including a high-level overview on anticipated costs, will be published at the statutory consultation. The choice of power for freight trains would be a matter for the freight operator, although the Government challenge for 2040 remains.
With respect to the particular concerns raised regarding the potential operation of diesel-powered trains or freight, we note that there are already diesel powered and freight services operating through Cambridge station on the existing network.
Comments were raised about the potential impacts to the environment as a result of the expansion of Cambridge station. In particular, concerns were raised that widening the station could impact the wildlife in the wooded area between the guided busway and the existing railway line.
We recognise the importance of biodiversity and protecting the habitats of local wildlife including habitats such as ancient woodland, parks and green spaces. We know that the value of woodlands between the railway and the guided busway north of Long Road bridge is important to the local community and we'll make sure we consider, and minimise, impacts to this site.
We'll undertake a series of habitat surveys to understand the potential impacts to wildlife, so that we could reduce, mitigate, and if necessary, compensate for identified impacts throughout the design of the railway. We're committed to 10% Biodiversity Net Gain, so we'd look for opportunities to enhance existing habitats and create new habitats, wildlife corridors or green infrastructure.
Construction-related impacts on the environment would be identified and managed, as far as reasonably practicable, by a CoCP or an equivalent document, submitted as part of the DCO application. This would include measures to control impacts related to construction noise and vibration, air quality, contaminated land, ecology, historic environment, construction traffic, tree protection, surface and groundwater management, waste management and general site operations.
Other comments related to Section F
Other comments raised about the proposals for Section F related to the location of Cambridge South station, the closure of other level crossings and general concern about impacts on the environment.
Network Rail said it is comfortable that implementation of the full scope of infrastructure interventions set out within the 2021 consultation would address the requirements to deliver the service specification over this area and support the increase in service level into Cambridge that Connection Stage 3 brings.
Cambridge South station
Respondents supported the proposed location of Cambridge South station, with local residents identifying the benefits to accessing Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
We aim to provide new, faster connections for local communities along the route. Cambridge South station recently had a Transport and Works Act Order approved (authorisation of a new railway scheme), and our preferred option would afford direct connectivity to Cambridge South station. It should be noted that delivery of Cambridge South station does not fall within our scope as set out by the DfT, although we are working closely with Network Rail to ensure any opportunities for efficiencies or to reduce overall impacts between the two projects are taken.
General opposition to the proposal
We also received comments opposing the route from The Shelfords to Cambridge; in particular respondents are unhappy with the route because of its southern approach to Cambridge. They also raised concerns about the feasibility and impacts to the environment and local communities.
It would be necessary for the new EWR line to connect to the existing rail network near Cambridge so that the new services could access and serve Cambridge station. There would be consequences that flow from the decision to adopt the southern approach to Cambridge, including works on the route into Cambridge. Due to the built-up nature of the approach to Cambridge, the railway would pass villages on the route, whilst also avoiding other environmental features such as ancient woodland, designated ecological sites and heritage assets where possible.
Both EWR Co and Network Rail have considered various options for how the new railway might approach Cambridge, which we’ve set out in Chapter 3.
Respondents requested that both cycle lanes and bus routes are created for commuters at Cambridge South station, raising concerns about a lack of parking and links to Cambridge station.
We’ve considered access to and from the station for use of both EWR and non EWR services including the use of taxis, pick up and drop off provision, parking, bus services, as well as improvement of cycle and pedestrian links. We would strive to promote active travel where appropriate and would aim for the new services to be accessed across the area using sustainable transport modes. We would continue to liaise with other public transport promoters in the Greater Cambridge area to develop plans which complement current or planned public transport provision. It should be noted that new public transport services such as bus routes are the responsibility of statutory bodies and operators.
Other level crossings
Respondents requested that all other level crossings in the surrounding area should be closed and that no new crossings should be built because of safety concerns.
We consider that the closure of existing level crossings on the EWR route could offer significant safety benefits and allow new train services to run more reliably. We would undertake risk assessments and traffic modelling to better understand level crossings and how they might be impacted by EWR. Where roads require alteration or diversion, we’d look at mitigation methods including the creation of bridges or underpasses. We’d consider routes that are currently being used by cyclists, school children, and buses to provide connectivity to local services during and after construction.
Assessment of whether to close level crossings off the EWR route, is the responsibility of Network Rail.
Landscape and environment
We received comments expressing concerns around the proposals for the Shepreth Junction and additional tracks due to the impact on the local environment. Concerns were raised about the detrimental impact on local natural spaces, such as Hobson’s Park and Nine Wells reserve.
There were also concerns that the plans would have detrimental impacts on the environment including new bridges and high embankments on the Cambridge green belt, local wildlife and the landscape of the area.
Respondents highlighted concerns on the impact on the iron age Scheduled Monument to the west of the WAML.
We’ve considered the impact that the railway may have on the countryside and its access and use by local communities. The impact on local wildlife habitats such as designated bat, badger and water vole species has been assessed. We’ll continue to undertake habitat and species-specific surveys to understand where these species and habitats are located, which will help us to understand potential impacts and how these could be mitigated. Results of these surveys will form a part of the EIA which we'll present in the ES submitted as part of our DCO application. A PEIR will be available at the statutory consultation for public review.
We also recognise the concern about impact on the Cambridge landscape and will continue to endeavour to understand how the existing landscape character is valued by stakeholders and local people, including the area near Nine Wells, Hobsons Park and Chapel Hill. This will help to inform the design where it is reasonably practicable to do so.
Regarding concerns over bridges and high embankments, we'll consider how the railway could be designed to blend in with the local environment. Potential measures could include the use of landscape earthworks to soften the appearance of embankments and integrate them into the wider landscape or using planting to either screen views from sensitive receptors, or to soften the appearance and presence of engineering earthworks.
We appreciate the concerns around the impacts on countryside and the green belt, including in the locations identified by respondents, and we'll work to identify and minimise these impacts and protect these spaces wherever it is reasonably practicable.
In order to deliver the Project objectives that we’ve been set by the DfT, the new railway would need to connect to the existing network so that services could access the Cambridge stations. Cambridge is surrounded by designated green belt, which means that the railway would pass through it no matter which route option or route alignment is chosen.
As we review the potential engineering solutions for this section of the route, we'll continue to consider and seek opportunities to avoid or minimise impacts on the local landscape and wider environment. We'll also continue to assess potential noise, vibration and air quality effects and consider the potential impact on local environmental features, such as public open space, streams, designated ecological sites and protected species, including those identified by the respondents. Further details of this work will be reported and consulted on at the statutory consultation.
We'd aim to avoid adverse impacts to designated heritage assets and would prioritise highly sensitive ones such as the Scheduled Monument adjacent to the WAML. Currently, we don't anticipate that the increase to four tracks would directly impact the Scheduled Monument. This is because current designs indicate that the new tracks could be fitted within the existing rail boundary. As we develop the design, we will continue engaging with Historic England and the local authority county archaeologists on this matter.