Closure of Mill Road Bridge for Railway Works July/August 2019 – Update

Updates for bus services

During the traffic closure period of Mill Road Bridge to provide an enlarged arch for an additional tracks, shuttle bus services will be provided on both sides of the bridge. The ‘main’ citi2 route will be diverted via Coldham’s Lane.

In order to serve all existing stops, short wheelbase vehicles will be used. On the Petersfield side of the bridge, it’s planned to loop through Gwydir Street and Kingston Street. The Romsey shuttle is planned to use Argyle Street and Stockwell Street.

Full timetables and route maps for the diverted citi2, the 2A (Petersfield) and 2B (Romsey) shuttles are now available on the Stagecoach East website.

At a recent meeting with (bus operator) Stagecoach we learned that the company is bringing in three short wheelbase vehicles – one for each shuttle and a spare for maintenance/breakdowns. These are 15-seaters with space for a wheelchair. By using such small vehicles all existing stops, either side of the bridge, can be served.

Transport campaigner and Mill Road resident, Susan Jourdain, reports that the shuttles will have a 20-minute frequency throughout current hours of operation.

However, the drawback is that the vehicles would not have the capacity to serve the Birdwood area and onwards to Addenbrooke’s.

A 15-seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, of the type to be used on the shuttles

Steven Knight Media reports: “The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from Stagecoach West Scotland now here is 44009. It joins 44005/06 which are at Cambridge from Stagecoach South Wales.”

Is this good enough?

Our view is that whilst the Petersfield shuttle might be adequate, as onward connections to Addenbrooke’s can be made from the adjacent stop in Emanuel Street, Romsey have got a poor deal, losing direct services to the hospital, with all buses terminating at Brooks Road Sainsbury’s. Stagecoach stressed the difficulties in obtaining extra vehicles and, crucially, planning for extra driver duties. We also gained the impression that this is probably all that GTR would be prepared to pay for. Others have suggested that GTR specified the shuttle service, without consulting bus users or local residents. Certainly no-one from Cambridge Area Bus Users was consulted by GTR.

Some supplementary service is needed. For example, a Romsey resident who has a GP appointment in Petersfield or vice-versa. Moreover, there is no single service for Romsey or Petersfield residents to get them to Addenbrooke’s. The Over Mill Road Bridge website reported (19/052019) “We have been in discussion with Cambridge Dial-A-Ride about the possibility that their service could help to plug the gaps in the Stagecoach provision.”

More on the Over Mill Road Bridge website: Bridge Closure – Update #1
(Note: Over Mill Road Bridge is a campaigning organisation set up in 2018 by Romsey & Petersfield Labour Party.)

It is the view of Cambridge Area Bus Users that, should blame for the poor service be lain anywhere, it should not be at the door of the bus operator, Stagecoach.

Dial-a-Ride

We are now indebted to Mill Road trader Piero d’Angelico and to the Mill Road Bridges web administrator for the GTR ‘Final Update’ which clarifies:

While the Mill Road Bridge is closed, GTR have made arrangements with Cambridge Dial-a-Ride scheme to assist residents who would otherwise find it difficult to use the revised public transport provisions.

Dial-a-Ride operates a door to door service, and, for the duration of the bridge closure, this will be AVAILABLE WITHOUT CHARGE to residents who are unable to use the revised bus service and will be adversely affected by the closure. How to apply to use the service.

Complete the membership application form by visiting the Dial-a-Ride Individual membership page, or request an application form by calling 01223 506335 or sending an email to Dial-a-Ride

Be sure to tick the box that reads “I need help during the Mill Road Bridge Closure” when completing your application.

To book a journey, call the Dial-a-Ride booking service Monday-Friday 09.00-15.00 (9am-3pm) giving as much notice as possible of your journey.

GTR June update

Click to read/download download the GTR June update. (PDF 287 KB)


Last Public Meeting

A public meeting was held on
MONDAY 29THAPRIL 2019 at 18:30

We only learned about this public meeting on Friday 26thApril 2019. There was nothing on-line. No email alerts. Just a few leaflets through some letterboxes. GTR’s communications were dreadful. Despite this – or possibly because of some energetic emailing and tweeting there was a decent turn-out.

The report, below, was produced by local not-for-profit community group Mill Road Bridges. We are grateful for their permission to share this.

Total closure to vehicles is scheduled for 1stJuly to 25thAugust 2019

There was considerable anger expressed about the poor publicity, and the fact that the many local residents and groups who had signed up for email updates at the meeting held at the Earl of Beaconsfield in November 2018 had never received any communications whatsoever.

GTR Slides are linked here

There were, however updates in a powerpoint display which you can download as a PDF above.

A good report on the meeting can be found on the Over Mill Road Bridge website.

There are severe deficiencies in the proposed shuttle bus services (see p11 of the GTR/Spencer slideshow). This will need to be addressed.

We understand that slide 11 is an ‘indicative’ map. Detailed examination suggests that it is ‘indicative’ of poor research.

p11 of the Spencer/GTR slideshow.

The indicative citi2 diversionary route– via Coldham’s Lane is reasonably accurate, although no account is taken of the ‘short turns’ at Brooks Road Sainsbury’s.

The indicative shuttle bus route 2A in Petersfield shows wrong-way running in Kingston Street, ignoring the one-way system. Even a Gwydir-Hooper-Kingston loop would be difficult given the tight junction at Hoper St / Kingston St and the narrowness of Kingston Street.

The only practical Petersfield solution is a Tenison Road – St Barnabas Road loop with a temporary stop by St Barnabas church.

Even then, Stagecoach would need to use a shorter vehicle, such as an Optare Solo midibus.

We now have more information of the vehicles to be deployed, see above.

A stand-alone shuttle might be acceptable, as Petersfield passengers could change to the citi 1 or 7 for Addenbrooke’s, in Emanuel Street. There is, however, a big question mark over the proposed frequency of this service.

Indicative shuttle bus route 2B in Romsey shows wrong-way running in Cockburn St, ignoring the one-way system, and the vehicle somehow travelling through the physical barrier at the Argyle St / Charles St junction.

The only practical Romsey solution is a Hope Street – Argyle Street – Cockburn Street loop with a temporary stop by Tesco.

Even then, Stagecoach would need to use a shorter vehicle, such as an Optare Solo midibus.

We now have more information of the vehicles to be deployed, see above.

The unacceptable feature of this indicative service is that it would appear to propose that Romsey residents are to be provided with only a shuttle link to Brooks Road Sainsbury’s, where they would be required to change buses for the city centre or for Addenbrooke’s. Guaranteeing connections would be well-nigh impossible.

Romsey residents are already annoyed at the service reduction (from a 10- to 20-minute frequency) to Addenbrooke’s. Similarly, whilst Birdwood Area Residents’ Association will retain the (already reduced) frequency to Addenbrooke’s and to the city centre, they will loose all links to Mill Road Broadway’s independent shops and cafés and to the new mosque.

An acceptable service would be for the diverted citi2 ‘short turns’ to continue from Brooks Road Sainsbury’s to Mill Road Broadway and for alternate buses from Mill Road Broadway to travel to Addenbrooke’s via the usual route.

Stagecoach, as a commercial bus operator, cannot be expected to fund the additional services – including the hiring-in of extra vehicles, and the additional driver duties – needed because of the closure of Mill Road Bridge. These costs should be met by GTR at whose behest Mill Road Bridge will be closed.


Earlier posts


Update – Footbridge agreed

We are indebted to the  Over Mill Road Bridge website for this update: GTR promises temporary footbridge during bridge closure.


Drop in meeting – Earl of Beaconsfield Tuesday 27th November 13:00 – 20:00  – Report-back

Diane Rowe, Customer Relationship Manager of Spencer Group – who are Govia Thameslink Railways contractors – arranged a drop-in meeting at the Earl of Beaconsfield, 133 Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 3AA on Tuesday 27th November 13:00 – 20:00.

Cambridge Area Bus UsersSecretary, Richard Wood, attended one of these sessions, at which he was able to speak to GTR’s Kevin Parker, Head of RailPlan2020, a representative of Network Rail and of the contractors, Spencer Group.

Closure to motor-traffic

Reference was made to the rebuilding of Mill Road Bridge as part of the 1980s electrification programme, to accommodate the overhead electric line equipment.

During that rebuilding, from May to November 1980, the bridge was open to (signalled) motor traffic, whilst pedestrian/cycle access was maintained on a temporary bridge, adjacent to the north. [Source: Capturing Cambridge – Mill Road Bridge]

The bridge from Great Eastern Street looking towards Petersfield. Courtesy of John Hullock and the Suzy Oakes Collection.

Mill Road Bridges Treasurer, Richard Wood made the point that ‘This is Mill Road, Cambridge’ – we’re all only a couple of degrees of separation from somebody with engineering expertise. If Mill Road bridge is to be closed to motor traffic – severing our bus service – GTR and Spencer Group will need to show us precisely why the bridge cannot be kept open through the works, in a way that can be closely scrutinised by those in the community with the relevant skills. Otherwise local bus users will assume that the wool is being pulled over their eyes.

Things do appear to have moved on since the meeting on Thursday 1st November, in – ahem – Mill Lane.

Time of the Works

GTR are now looking to do the works later in the year July/August 2019, taking account of the Mill Road community’s feeling that this would be less disruptive. Your secretary’s understanding is that GTR promised to consult local schools and to take account of school term/holiday dates.

Bus services

Your secretary stressed the importance of providing substitute bus links in the event of closure of Mill Road bridge to motor-traffic. He was assured that GTR are in discussions with Stagecoach East over providing a substitute service. His understanding is that any proposed timetable will be open to public consultation.

The usual diversionary route for citi2, when Mill Road is closed (eg for Mill Road Winter Fair) is via East Road, Newmarket Road , Coldhams Lane and Brooks Road, resuming its normal route to Addenbrooke’s Hospital via Perne Road and Birdwood Road.
 

Below are personal suggestions, please add your own comments, below the line.

On the Petersfield side, a previous bridge closure has seen a link bus service routed city centre – Mill Road – Tenison Road – St Barnabas Road and return, with Gwydir Street inbound and outbound stops suspended. With the bridge closed, a temporary stop on Mill Road outside St Barnabas Church (city-bound) would be feasible.

Both Tenison Road and St Barnabas Road are, technically, wide enough to take any standard HGV or bus, although a smaller vehicle (eg Optare Solo) might be more manageable. Because of congestion in Emmanuel Street, it is a moot point whether such a service should terminate in the city centre, or continue on the remainder of the route to Cambridge North Station via Chesterton.

On the Romsey side of Mill Road a Hope Street – Argyle Street – Cockburn Street loop might be possible. Again, a smaller bus might be advisable, and some parking suspensions might be required in those side streets. Mill Road Broadway inbound and outbound stops would need to be suspended and replaced with a temporary stop outside Mill Road Tesco.

A 20-min frequency Romsey Town – Perne Road – Birdwood Road – Addenbrooke’s, service would match the existing service to Addenbrooke’s. This might be supplemented with a 20-min frequency Romsey Town – Brooks Road Sainsbury’s – Coldhams Lane – Newmarket Road  – East Road – city centre – Chesterton – Cambridge North Station.

The schedule might be completed with a  a 20-min frequency Addenbrooke’s – Birdwood Road – Brooks Road Sainsbury’s- Coldhams Lane – city centre – Chesterton – Cambridge North service.

For updates from GTR, register on the Thameslink Programme website,

You can raise issues directly with GTR at contact@thameslinkprogramme.co.uk.


Public meeting at the Double Tree Hilton at 6pm on 1 November

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Network Rail and its contractors hosted a public meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Granta Place, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RT at 6pm on Thursday 1 November 2018 to discuss a proposed eight-week closure of Mill Road bridge in Cambridge from May 2019.

Why it was not held at a venue on Mill Road we do not know. Was it to make things difficult? Or did no-one at GTR realise that Mill Lane and Mill Road are not adjacent locations?

The meeting was announced in Rail Business Daily, on-line.

We are indebted to Cllr Dave Baigent, City Councillor for Romsey, to alerting the Mill Road community to this meeting, on Twitter.

Our secretary has had a response from Network Rail to our enquiry (see below) saying that Govia Thameslink Railway are leading the project, Network Rail’s role is only to ensure the integrity of their infrastructure. He had no response from Govia Thameslink Railway.

Neither GTR nor Network Rail informed him of this meeting.


Will the bridge remain open for pedestrians and cyclists? What linking bus services can be provided along the two sections of Mill Road?

From Cambridgeshire Live (Image: David Johnson)

From Cambridgeshire Live:

The bridge will have to close for two months to allow work to expand the railway below, which will require modification of one of the bridge’s arches.

The work will allow an additional railway line to run beneath the bridge, but will make the bridge unsafe for traffic while this is taking place.

A GTR spokesperson said: “We are planning a £30 million extension of the Cambridge railway depot to help increase the number of Thameslink services to and from the City.

Read the full report here.


We have contacted Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway asking to be included in all consultations.

The text submitted on the various web contact forms is as follows:

We understand that Mill Road bridge in Cambridge is scheduled to be closed to all motor traffic from May to July 2019in connection with installing an additional rail line beneath the bridge for access to an expanded maintenance depot for GTR trains.

Please ensure that our organisation – Cambridge Area Bus Users – is included in all consultations. Our main concern is that properly funded, well-designed link bus services will be available along the two sections of Mill Road in Petersfield ward to the west of the railway and in Romsey ward to the east.

Cambridge Area Bus Users believes that it is the responsibility of Network Rail and GTR to ensure that Stagecoach East the operator of the citi2 along Mill Road, is funded to provide the best achievable service(s) for Mill Road, including links to Addenbrooke’s, the city centre, Chesterton and Cambridge North Station during this closure period.

We also believe that the Greater Cambridge Partnership should fund impact studies, during the closure period to provide data which could lead to reduction of traffic congestion on the Mill Road corridor and improvements to service reliability for bus services using this corridor.


Please note that any advertisements which appear in association with these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by Cambridge Area Bus Users. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Please add your suggestions and comments (pre-moderated) below.

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