What’s with the whittlesford rail hub?
Whittlesford station is not a quiet village halt. It hasn’t been for about ten years (it was renamed as a Parkway station in 2007) and certainly since the service to Liverpool St speeded up. Passenger numbers are growing - five years ago 432,000 train journeys from or to Whittlesford. In 2017 539,000. An extra 100,000 in five years.
When Cambridge South station opens in 2/3 years time people will catch the train from Whittlesford to travel IN to Cambridge Bio-medical Campus and Addenbrookes and Papworth Hospitals, as well as commuting DOWN to London. The excellent little coffee stall next to the Red Lion will be even busier.
But there is more- as local science parks expand (Babraham, Granta Parks, Wellcome’s Genome Center at Hinxton are the big three but take a look at the Pampisford Unity Campus which will have 2,000 jobs.
Or the news that the Comfort Cafe site at Abington has been sold to a business incubator company. So more soy lattes and fewer full English breakfasts.
So the station needs more than a bit of tarting up to cope with these demands and ensure that Whittlesford isn’t swamped by this emerging behemoth. About a year back the parish council at Whittlesford went to the Greater Cambridge Partnership to get them to do some studies on what was needed at the station to make it fit for purpose. I backed them, our MP Heidi Allen backed them, other local villages like Duxford were keen.
The study was published on 20 December. It has a lot of recommendations and ideas. Some will be welcomed, some are contraversial. See below.
So where the chuffing hell is this report - buried at the bottom of a secondary page on the GCP website - that’s where. But the GCP want views by the end of January (really!) so the grandees on the GCP board can take a view in March, and the report says any improvements would be predicated on funding derived from big housing developments around the station.
This is a cack-handed way of handling a major infrastructure consultation and I’ve said that to the GCP. Im still waiting for a reply. So is the parish council.
It is simply outrageous for the GCP, which has been given several hundred million from the government (aka taxpayers money) to spend on infrastructure in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire to now say any improvements to local infrastructure have to come from more housing in and around the station.
So - what does the report suggest? The firm proposals are for:
- a lift enabling access across the tracks; this will help cyclists, the disabled, and people with buggies and prams or heavy luggage.
- a turning circle for buses in Station Road East; to make better connectivity with other transport means, tho we need to make sure we keep the bus services!
- traffic signals on the A505 at the Moorfield Rd and Station Rd East junctions - so helping access to Duxford. This could be challenged by the highways department that want to keep the A505 fast-flowing though that increasingly isn’t happening because of all the growth in the area.
- double-decking the existing car park - Network Rail want this too, tho need to make sure Duxford Chapel isn’t overshadowed by this.
widening the first stretch of Station Road East near the A505 and then making the bid near the duxford chapel more a feature.
There are other recommendations too, with a priority ranking.
If you go on the GCP website you can’t move for questionnaires and consultationmlinks for the Oakington rural travel hub - so why haven’t the GCP run a similar exercise for their Whittlesford Station proposals.
This has to be put right - we aren’t hicks with straw in our hair to be palmed off like this. The knowledge based economy of Cambridge is increasingly happening in South Cambridgeshire in locations like this. There is still time for GCP to pull the bacon out of the fire (or a Veganuary equivalent).