Defective in concept
[‘Deteriorating’ Cambridgeshire guided busway may need to be ripped up, Wisbech Standard]
A technical report six months ago said the busway, which was built by contractor BAM Nuttall, had £31 million worth of defects – in some places the track has risen four inches – which need to be addressed to tackle the “deteriorating” ride quality.
[…] Speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Bob Menzies, service director for strategy and development at Cambridgeshire County Council, said they may be forced to put rubber pads under every beam of the track.
[…] The council instigated the review into the contract after the project ran into problems and delays, resulting in BAM Nuttall, repaying £33million of the £147m costs to settle a long-running dispute about who should pay for the overspend for the concrete route.
The report found BAM Nuttall did not think the design was as complete as it expected it to be when the contract was awarded.
Involving a consultant to review the design was not value for money and removed responsibility from the contractor’s designer, the report added.
Like the HS2 scheme and the Borders Railway, the Cambridge busway is ‘political’ infrastructure. Its biggest defect lies in the concept, rather than the execution. The concrete guideway is little more than a very expensive way of stopping normal road traffic using the right-of-way. Had the old St Ives railway been rebuilt as a conventional road, there would have at least been the possibility of bicycles, and emergency vehicles, being able to use it.
In general, reserved track transport schemes — bus or rail — tend to require high levels of demand to be worthwhile. According to its website, Steer Davies Gleave ‘co-ordinated a multi-disciplinary PPP team, to develop a robust scheme for the Cambridge Guided Busway from conception through to scheme design’, but what has been provided could hardly be described as robust. Perhaps BAM Nuttall are not the only ones who have questions to answer.
[…] Steer Davies Gleave guided the evolution of the project from a private sector developer promoted project, to a joint public/private project with the powers sought by Cambridgeshire County Council.
How we did it
We managed a multi-disciplinary team from conception through to scheme design and the preparation for the Transport and Works Act application
Developing briefs for consultants
Defined scopes of work
Provided strategic advice as part of the client team
Wrote papers to obtain political sign-off
Facilitated key third party discussions
Managed the stakeholder and public consultations
Managed the preparation for the Transport and Works Act application
Acted as strategic advisor to the QCs during the public inquiry process
Steer Davies Gleave’s management of the team meant that we were able to develop a robust scheme within the extremely tight timeframes. Our expertise in technical issues and an understanding of the political sensitivities and requirements ensured that the right solution we developed.
The project director for Cambridge summarised SDG’s input as “at all times professional and undertaken to an extremely high standard. The particular strengths were creativity, problem solving and project management”.