Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mid-week ride–Flooding along the Cambridge Guided Busway

Wednesday, 29th November; 2012:I was thinking about calling this Post “Wide it Wednesday”, an extension of the Want it Wednesday from Following the Chainline the concept. I rather like the idea of Want It Wednesday, especially as Christmas is coming up.  I also believe in looking at fellow cycling enthusiasts ideas of what works and what doesn't – so this featured on my WIW WifC (Want it for Christmas), a Carradice Roll Bag. I have Carradice panniers and they have been excellent. Now the problem I have when cycling is I need different types of stuff depending upon whether I am touring, commuting or just going out for a bit of fresh air. I often carry more than I need, just in case, However the roll bag looks practical and stylish. So hopefully Father Christmas has taken note.

Here is another Want it For Christmas – Brompton toolkit – although The Orange Brompton is not so sure and I tend to agree. Style and function are important, but so is the cost! Here is another gadget I won’t be asking for either. – a lightweight scooter. I wouldn’t mind a laser beam on my bike though

I have not suddenly entered a time-warp and caught up on my posts, only  I decided to cycle up the (CGB) cycleway to St Ives to check out both the track damage after the recent bus crash and the flooding. Since the flooding is topical I thought I would post about it straight away. Fortunately Travelling the Cambridgeshire guided busway is more up to date than I am.

The simple summary is that I made no attempt to cycle up to St Ives, I have never seen such extensive flooding around the Fen Drayton Lakes area before.

I think that the CGB cycle way is a really welcome cycling facility – not perfect, but better than a lot of so-called cycle routes around the place. For me it is a great way to get a bit of distance in before getting out onto the byways and bridleways in the area. When you have cycled it a few times then it is a little boring – sorry, but it has to be said. As a result I tend to use it when I want to get somewhere else, such as Peterborough or Grafham Water.

So this was new to me – some art alongside the track and the old railway platform of what was Oakington Station (Check out the last three pictures.) This one shows the building looking quite dilapidated in 1980.

Art on the old Oakington Station – CGB

A close up.

Art on the old Oakington Station – CGB

A bit further along just after the Longstanton Park and Ride was the area of track damaged by a bus (driver) failing to negotiate the entrance to the track way after crossing Station Road (between Longstanton and Willingham). It would appear the the station was called Long Stanton. The village name appears as Longstanton on modern maps, but older ones do show Long Stanton. Here are some pictures of the old station. In this one you can see the buildings (on the other side of the road) also shown in the picture below. This part of the track is subject to a 10mph speed limit.

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

I don’t know whether the bus jumped over onto the other track, it does rather looks as if the bus was heading from Cambridge, missed the guides and bounced over into the oncoming track. Although some of the damage might have been caused by the subsequent removal operation. It must have been pretty scary for the driver though. I wonder whether there was any assessment of the probabilities of accidents such as this one?

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

You can see how the concrete has been damaged on the lower track edge.  I don’t know whether they will patch it up or replace the “rail”. I would have thought that the contract would have called for a supply of spares.

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

This is another section a little further along, I guess that the buses have a fair bit of momentum. The inner edge of the far track has been damaged all along the section. There is also damage on the top of the penultimate rail.

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

I didn’t look that closely, however the track from Cambridge to St Ives seems to have suffered far less damage.

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

There is a fair bit of signage along the damaged area. I reckon that the buses heading towards Cambridge slowed down far more than the buses heading towards St Ives.

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

Although it didn’t zoom through I reckon this one was going faster the 10mph.

Damaged Track – Cambridge Guided Busway, near Longstanton P&R

As I got closer to St Ives the flooding became more evident. Although the fields were water-logged. I didn’t hang around too much as the weather wasn’t that good and it was getting darker by the second.  This river is on the outskirts of Swavesey and is way higher than usual. You can also see that it has flooded the field to the left. If it is Covell’s Bridge then then that is Covell’s Drain. I reckon this is Swavesey Drain – it has having some work done to it – you can a little bit of the new stone reinforced bank to the right.

Swavesey Drain along the CGB

There were flood warning signs along the track and the gates were closed with a gap to allow intrepid explorers foolish people. This was the first bit of flooding I came across.  I was navigable, I cycled to the right-hand side where I assumed it was at its shallowest.

Flooded Cycle way on the Cambridge Guided Busway

The “lake” to the left is normally a field.

Flooded Cycle way on the Cambridge Guided Busway

As I arrived at the next bit of flooding – I was amazed. I have never seen such extensive flooding here before.  If it hadn’t been for the hedgerow still visible the track would have looked as if it were designed to run along the shores of a large lake.

Flooded Cycle way on the Cambridge Guided Busway

As you can see the flooding was extensive – on the other side of the track there were waves and the sound of faster moving water.

Flooded Cycle way on the Cambridge Guided Busway

I didn’t even think about having a go – the weather was too cold and it was getting dark and it was spitting. Although it rained most of the way home once you are out cycling in the rain it doesn’t seem so bad.

It must be an interesting view from the buses. Another metre and the track would be under water. I wonder if the water soaks into the foundations. I would hope that was thought about when the track was designed.

Flooded Cycle way on the Cambridge Guided Busway

This is Covell’s Drain – although it has joined forces with the nearby Trout Pond.

Covell’s Drain along the CGB

This just about shows the flooding on both sides of the CGB.

Flooding along the CGB – November 2012

The current flooding is serious, I recently cycled through a ford on the River Kym when cycling around Grafham Water. A motorist had to be rescued near Hamerton because of flooding on the River Kym.

Whilst on the subject of Guided Busways there is talk of a new busway to connect a homes scheme in Waterbeach to Cambridge. They have other choices such as widening the A10 or building a better railway station at Waterbeach. Well I certainly wouldn’t vote for widening the A10. I am not sure of the relative capacities of a new guided busway versus using the existing railway line (or political sensitivities for that matter). If they do build a busway then they should build a high quality cycle way as a matter of course – and not one that suffers from flooding.

Whilst on the subject of railways one reason for not utilising the existing railway line might be the cost – rail commuters face 5.9% fare rise – although you would have though that better utilisation would have lowered costs overall. Mind you for the scheme to work then it would require the new Chesterton Railway Station to be built – although making the station easy to cycle and walk to and from doesn’t seem to be easy – Station link plan ‘would destroy our little oasis’.

If we don’t then more greenhouse gases anyone – global warming can only get worse.

Apparently the £1.5bn A14 upgrade would offer better value for money if it didn’t have a toll. That would be true for the single-driver occupied cars.  The tolls were mooted at £2/car and £4/lorry. Aren’t we running out of decent land (whether for houses, recreation or farming) so more roads – a good job that rural campaigners blast minister’s plan to rip up two million acres of countryside for new housing.


  1. The busway section between Swavesey and St Ives is supported on deep piles, rather than the actual bank itself. That's the theory, anyway.

    1. Ah I see. It is a pity that the cycle way wasn't also built on deep piles as well.

      I wonder if the solar lighting that is planned for the cyce way will work under water?