‘Deteriorating’ Cambridgeshire guided busway may need to be ripped up

PUBLISHED: 10:57 10 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:31 10 April 2015

Guided bus,

Guided bus,

Archant

The guided busway may need to be ripped up and re-done, a county council official has warned.

The busway, which runs between Cambridge and Huntingdon, has had 11 million passengers since it opened four years ago, but it has been plagued with defects.

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.

Next weekend, the section from Addenbrookes’s Hospital to Trumpington will be shut for maintenance.

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 ride quality has deteriorated since it opened, and the joints are moving. The last thing we want to do is to have to do this work. But on the other hand we have to make sure it’s maintained and kept safe,” he said.

“It’s a real shame we have this problem, that we’re having to close it over a weekend, having to divert the buses round, and we many have to do more of this in the future.

“Our experts’ view is that eventually we’ll need to fix it all. And it’s a real shame.

“If we (the county council) have to we’ll lift every beam up and put these rubber pads back under each one of them as they should have been done properly in the first place.”

Replacing beams cost several thousand pounds at a time, so replacing 6 million joints could add up to a “very big figure”, Mr Menzies admitted.

The council has already spent £1 million on legal action against Bam Nuttall in a bid to get them to take responsibility over the repairs, Mr Menzies added.

He said: “What we believe should happen is Bam Nuttall should come back and fix it all, and get the ride quality back to where it should have been.

“They’re quite clearly defects. It quite clearly doesn’t comply with the terms of the contract. I’m absolutely clear about that, and so are our lawyers. There’s six thousand joints along the busway - that could add up to a very big figure if you have to fix every one over the course of a number of years. That’s why we’re taking legal action against Bam Nuttall.

“I’d like Bam Nuttall to come clean and accept their responsibilities. But I suspect it won’t. In effect it will take a lot longer than that, knowing the previous history.”

FACTFILE


The initial contract between Cambridgeshire County Council and BAM Nuttall was for 130 weeks of work, with the completion date on February 27, 2009.

But the busway construction was not completed until April 2011 and not open for use until August of that year as the council raised concerns about defects along the guideway.

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.

7 comments

  • uh hum', "just like light rail only cheaper" not

    Report this comment

    trolleyskipper

    Thursday, April 16, 2015

  • Conversion to trams the obvious answer. Iron rails last years. Cambridge-St Ives-Huntingdon could even be tram-train with trains and trams sharing the tracks. They have such things in GermanyFrance. Common sense needs to prevail.

    Report this comment

    Jonathan Hibberd

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

  • Mr Menzies says the council's lawyers are confident they have a case, and mentions the council has already spent £1m on legal fees. Lawyers are always confident their client has a case when they have the money to spend on their fees.... especially when their client is a council with unlimited taxpayers money to spend! I agree with the other comments. There's a good reason this is the longest mis-guided busway in the world - it's because nobody else was daft enough to build one in the first place!

    Report this comment

    Edward Millionaireband

    Monday, April 13, 2015

  • I noted that Mr Menzies states on LinkedIn that he was "Responsible for Delivering the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, the world's longest guided busway. Most Innovative Transport Project 2012, National Transport Awards" from December 2004 to February 2012. I wonder whether he used the term "responsible" literally or figuratively.

    Report this comment

    Waltben

    Friday, April 10, 2015

  • Another example of why councillors shouldn't have access to public money without adult supervision

    Report this comment

    Taffy

    Friday, April 10, 2015

  • Sad to say, I agree with Norfolk and Good. The Busway was meant to be a cheap option compared to rail but anyone who knows about the soil in East Anglia would realise that a concrete roadway would suffer heave and subsidence. A railway, on the other hand, uses steel rails that are flexible and able to take up quite a lot of movement before it needs to be re-laid. IMO it is typical of many modern engineering projects that appear to have been conceived by people more conversant with Lego than the real world. Nice idea, shame it doesn't work.

    Report this comment

    A Wisbech Voice

    Friday, April 10, 2015

  • Why doesn't the council just admit they got it wrong, rip it up, and use the trackbed for the first half of the East - West railway?

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Friday, April 10, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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