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Guided Busway partial closure to be discussed

27 November 2023

Members of the Highways and Transport Committee will be asked next week, Tuesday 5 December, to approve the potential implementation of an innovative busway safety measure to allow the busway to return to full, two-way operation. 

Since February 2022, a section of the Guided Busway in one direction has been closed between Cambridge Railway Station and Addenbrooke’s. The inbound only track (closest to the maintenance track) was closed to allow for a temporary fence to be installed without reducing the width of the path used by pedestrians and cyclists. This measure has severely impacted the busway service and connections to key employment and health facilities. 

The temporary fence was installed whilst we waited for an independent safety review and following ongoing communications with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and as part of our continuous review of safety on the busway.

Since then, the County Council has been working with the bus operators and emergency services to risk assess and design a fence to be installed on the existing raised segregation kerb along sections of the southern busway. It has been specifically designed with removable sections to allow for safe evacuation.

Cllr Alex Beckett, chair of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Last year, we took the extremely difficult decision to partially close the southern section of the Guided Busway while we waited for the independent safety review and following our ongoing communications with HSE.

“It was always only a temporary measure and we’ve been working hard to restore the busway to full operational use ever since. We’ve been looking at what other measures we could explore to try and reduce any risks further and working with our partners, we have designed an innovative solution which we anticipate will allow us to return the busway back to full use. We want people to continue cycling, walking, running, and using the maintenance track and allow buses to operate, so this is the best way forward.”

Work continues looking at opportunities to improve the quality of cycling and active travel provision along the maintenance track - an independent report produced by Mott Macdonald on the Busway Southern Section, which was published in June 2022, recommended that ‘at a minimum, the existing footpath / cycle path should be widened as much as is practicable’ (where not constrained for example by land ownership boundaries).

In May 2023, following their investigation, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicated they plan to start legal proceedings against the County Council. We remain in communication with them however it would not be appropriate to comment further.

The committee papers can be found on our website and the meeting will be live streamed on the council’s YouTube channel.