The station of today and of tomorrow
Source: RTM Aug/Sep 16
As Cambridge North station finally begins to take shape, RTM speaks to Eliane Algaard, director of route asset management for Anglia at Network Rail, to find out more about the latest developments.
For a station that has been plagued with delays and setbacks over the last couple of years, knowing Cambridge North is finally beginning to take shape – with a completion date just around the corner – will be a breath of fresh air for local commuters.
The £50m station – the brainchild of a partnership between the DfT, Network Rail and Cambridgeshire County Council – serves a two-for-one purpose in the region. As well as helping alleviate overcrowding at Cambridge station, the new link will serve to boost the local economy given its premium position next to the city’s science and business parks.
Devised by Atkins, one of the most eye-catching aspects of the new building is its design. In order to reflect the impact of the local business and science community, the building’s rainscreen cladding will feature a perforated pattern derived from John Horton Conway’s ‘Game of Life’, a cellular automaton devised by the British mathematician during his time as a lecturer at the University of Cambridge. The Game of Life and the diamond motif run across the building and the landscape, enforcing the notions of emergence and self-organisation which were key to Conway’s work, Atkins said.
Parts of the cladding have already been erected given that steelwork started in May. According to Eliane Algaard, director of route asset management for Anglia at Network Rail, around 60 tonnes of structural steel had already been lifted into position as RTM went to press – with the platform construction next to it substantially completed, two lift shafts installed to full height, and work taking place to build the track, points and structures to carry the OLE and power supply. “We are, at the moment, on track to complete on time and on budget,” Algaard told us.
Beset with delays
Of course, ‘on time’ is a subjective analysis: the station was originally meant to open by December 2015, a deadline pushed back to May 2016, then December this year, and now, finally, May 2017. Much of this was due to the station’s responsibility transferring from the county council to Network Rail last year, sparking anger and disappointment amongst local MPs.
But Algaard argued it was necessary to get the business case exactly right. “It was a matter of making sure we were not rushing into a solution, making sure we had a solution which solved today’s problems but was also fit for future growth,” she added.
With 3,000 journeys anticipated being made from the station every day, it will be well served by 1,000 bicycle spaces and a 450-space car park, as well as a taxi drop-off and pick-up area. “We believe these will be more or less at full capacity very, very quickly,” explained Algaard. “That’s why we think it’s more like creating a new urban centre – really focusing on Cambridge being a new centre for growth for that part of the country.”
To reflect both the neighbouring science community and the many open spaces, the station will be extremely green. “It really goes with the spirit of what Cambridge Business Park is all about,” she added. “For example, 10% of the station’s power will be generated by a green roof and solar panels – that’s the main sustainability element.
“The way the station will be operated by Abellio will also aim to minimise wastage and maximise recycling, and the way it’s positioned will provide a very nice connection with the Guided Busway, which will really minimise any CO2 emission and push people to use public transportation.”
Now that the station’s construction is in full swing, the next milestone in the run-up to its hopeful launch date of 21 May is the signalling commission, expected this November.
The station building will be completed in February next year, with Network Rail looking to have the infrastructure authorised for passenger use in April.
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