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CAST.IRON - Stage 1A (Detail)

Click here for summary plans for Stage 1A.

1. Service

Stage 1A map - Service between Swavesey and the Science Park

The Stage 1A rail service will operate from Swavesey to the west end of the Science Park. Services will run during weekday rush hour periods, at 20 minute intervals. Connecting buses will be provided between the Science Park terminus and Cambridge City Centre, with through ticketing. Off-peak and weekend services are planned to start in Stage 1B, although they could start sooner according to demand.

2. Rail Infrastructure

New running track will be laid along the whole of this route, between terminus points:

  • immediately west of the Cambridge Regional College spur road at Kings Hedges;
  • immediately east of Swavesey road crossing.

The track will permit running speeds of 70mph. It will be a single line, with a passing loop and storage sidings at Oakington.

3. Trains

Two trains will be leased for Stage 1A. Each train will be locomotive hauled, with three Mk2 passenger coaches and a driving luggage van, allowing the train to be operated in a 'push-pull' configuration with the locomotive always marshalled at the west end. There will also be a third locomotive deployed on the system, to permit full service to continue in the event of a locomotive failure.

Example train - locomotive and MK 2 coaches

The capacity of the train will be 196 seated passengers, with provision for wheelchair users. The luggage van will be fitted with racking for bicycles. Each train will be operated by a crew of three: a driver, guard and ticket collector.

Provision for bicycles is important to increase modal shift away from the car; only a rail-based rapid transit system can carry bicycles. CHUMMS predicted that rail would carry a significant number of cyclists, reducing the need for parking space at stations on the system.

4. Stations

The Stage 1A system will operate between 5 stations: Regional College, Histon, Oakington, Longstanton and Swavesey. The position of a station at Northstowe is yet to be determined.

All stations will be constructed to a common specification. Some will be completely new build. Others will incorporate and upgrade the existing platform structure.

All platforms will be a minimum of 3m wide, long enough to accommodate the trains described above and built to current HSE 'stepping-up' height requirements.

Each platform will be equipped with:

  • lighting along the platform length
  • bus-stop-type anti-vandal shelter
  • 3 outdoor benches
  • ticket machine accepting cash and credit cards
  • ticket canceler
  • help point intercom and CCTV
  • bicycle racking
  • fencing to platform rear

All stations in Stage 1A are adjacent to a road. Access from the road will be via a platform ramp at less than a 1:14 gradient, to allow easy disabled access.

There will a single new platform at the Regional College. At each of Histon, Longstanton and Swavesey one of the two existing platforms will be lengthened and upgraded to the specification above.

Two platforms will be provided at the passing loop at Oakington. As land availability for two lengthened platforms on the old Oakington station site is not yet clarified, provision has been made in the budget for two completely new platforms to the east of Oakington road crossing.

5. Ticketing

CAST.IRON will issue tickets by a number of means, aimed at both passenger convenience and minimising cash storage in ticket machines on station platforms. Methods to be used are as follows:

  • tickets, both single/return and in books for multiple journeys, will be sold in local shops on the route. Validating machines for these tickets will be provided at each station.
  • ticket machines, accepting both cash and credit cards will provided at each station.
  • ticket collectors on trains will carry ticket issuing machines with credit card facilities.
  • buses connecting with CAST.IRON trains will issue through tickets.
  • season tickets will be issued by CAST.IRON.

6. Train Position Monitoring

Track circuits will be installed along the whole Stage 1A track and linked to a central monitoring panel. This will allow a 'signalman' to monitor the position of each train, in half mile track sections. In fact there will be no signals until Stage 1B, so that in Stage 1A the signalman is really a line supervisor. Train position information from the monitor panel can also be fed into a computerised passenger information/announcement system.

No signals are required to ensure the safe operation of the two trains running on the Stage 1A system. The trains will be protected, in line with standard railway practice, using two 'tokens', one for each single track section. In order for a driver to leave the passing loop and run on one of the single track sections, that driver must be in possession of a physical token authorising access to the section. When two trains are running, drivers will exchange tokens each time they meet at the passing loop.

The points at the passing loop will be of a sprung type, operated automatically by trains passing over them. This type of point, which is in use on Network Rail for example between Ipswich and Lowestoft, must be crossed at low speed. This can be achieved without affecting running times since the passing loop is located at a station.

7. Road Crossings

The Stage 1A railway crosses four roads, at Histon, Girton Road, Oakington and Longstanton. These crossings will be manually operated in Stage 1A. Operational procedures will require drivers to approach each crossing at a speed such as to be able to stop if the crossing is obstructed. This constraint will not increase journey times significantly, since all but one of the crossings are adjacent to station stops.

Crossing keepers will be alerted of approaching trains by the signalman, but drivers will be responsible for safety at the road crossings.

Manual crossing operation has been a feature of other reinstated private railway systems recently. From a safety standpoint it is just as acceptable as an automatic crossing. Manual crossings do have a higher staffing cost, so in Stages 1B and 2 all road crossings will become automated. However manual operation is preferable in Stage 1A for technical simplicity and for minimum time to launch of the pilot service.

8. Other Crossings

The Stage 1A railway is crossed by 13 footpaths, bridleways and agricultural tracks.

Each footpath will be gated off on both sides of the railway, with suitable warning/instruction notices posted.

Bridleways and agricultural tracks may be used by livestock and by slow moving vehicles. Therefore the gates at these crossings will be provided with telephones, to call the signalman before attempting to cross the line. The telephones will be in operation 24 hours a day.

9. Sidings and Sheds

A storage siding will be provided between Oakington and Girton Road, where the width of the railway reserve is sufficient for dual running lines plus storage sidings. Fuel storage and refueling facilities will be constructed. A small shed will be erected in this area for light maintenance of locomotives. The train supervisor/duty operations manager's office will also be sited in this area.

Trains will normally be stored here when the railway is not running. Lighting and security cameras will be installed along the storage area.

10. Fencing

Fencing along the trackside is currently in a variety of conditions. It will be replaced/made good as appropriate on both sides along the whole length of the Stage 1A system. Along most of the railway, post-and-wire fencing will be used. At the storage sidings, metal palisade fence will be installed.

11. Breakdown Recovery

In the single track Stage 1A system, the spare locomotive will normally be kept at Oakington sidings, the midpoint of the system. In the event of a locomotive failure on one of the push-pull trains, the spare locomotive can be driven to the failed train and the train can then be run by the third locomotive attached to either end of the train. This ensures a short service resumption time in the event of breakdown.

Next - Stage 1B [summary] [detail]

Site last modified April 2021