Clock ticking as slabs block St Ives-Cambridge guided busway

WITH the St Ives-Cambridge guided busway still not handed over by the contractors to Cambridgeshire County Council, huge concrete slabs now block the access points to keep joy riders away. Contractor BAM Nuttall said the slabs had been put in place for se

WITH the St Ives-Cambridge guided busway still not handed over by the contractors to Cambridgeshire County Council, huge concrete slabs now block the access points to keep joy riders away.

Contractor BAM Nuttall said the slabs had been put in place for security reasons, "because some people were getting onto the site and joy riding," a spokesman said.

But the busway has still not been handed over, as should have happened on October 31. Unless the county council gets control soon, it will not meet the planned start of public services on Sunday, November 29.

Bus operators need at least two weeks of trials on the full length of the guideway for driver training and to test the robustness of the guidance equipment in intensive service.


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Although Nuttall and the county council agreed in September - when the opening was delayed for the second time - that the section between St Ives and Cambridge Science Park would open ahead of the even more heavily-delayed southern section to Addenbrooke's Hospital and Trumpington, there is no contract in place for the move.

Lawyers were meeting last night to thrash out the details. "There are some important contractual points," a county council spokesman said.

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Meanwhile, long-term opponents CAST.IRON, which promoted a re-opening of the railway line in preference to the guided bus, are saying: 'We told you so.'

Chairman Tim Phillips said today: "The story behind the project has been - and continues to be - a catalogue of spin, hype, planning failure and PR disasters. Opponents of the scheme have grave doubts about its future success and viability.

"By the time the scheme is fully completed as far as Trumpington park-and-ride and Addenbrooke's Hospital, it is likely to be three to four years late and will probably have cost over three times as much as the figure used to promote it to the public in 2003.

"Incredibly, despite all this time and money, the journey from Cambridge city centre to St Ives centre will be longer via the busway, both in terms of time and of distance."

Mr Phillips also blamed the fragmented rail industry for failing to support the case for re-opening the mothballed railway line, which has become the route of the guideway.

"At every level and in every detail the misguided bus scheme has been a failure so far, so its prospects for operational success are slim," Mr Phillips continued. "I firmly believe its promoters will be forced into ever higher levels of spin and hype to claim the system is viable.

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