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26 March 2021

Mott MacDonald Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro concept design revealed

A consortium of experts led by Mott MacDonald have put forward a conceptual design for an autonomous metro system for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The Mott MacDonald consortium is one of three concept solutions being considered by the Combined Authority and includes the end-to-end user experience: from pre-journey planning through to destination arrival. The consortium includes Maynard, Transport Design International, Podaris and MTR.

The Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) is spearheaded by Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, who plans to link towns and villages around the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region, to help boost local economies as well as provide a safe and sustainable mode of transport.

While the concept design challenge was not intended to find an ultimate delivery solution for CAM, aspects of the designs and innovations demonstrated could be adopted as part of the project’s next business case phase which begins in April.

“The golden thread running through our concept is the clear focus on improving people’s lives,” says Stephen Luke, practice leader for rapid transport at Mott MacDonald. “We want to provide a community-based, sustainable, accessible mode of transport that improves the liveability of the region and that provides skilled jobs in manufacturing and maintenance.”

A key piece of the concept includes CAM stations that act as community-centred hubs; spaces that serve the public. The inclusive, open and permeable design will help promote safety, community integration and social interactions, catalysing local place-making and community development.

A modular construction approach will not only allow for inexpensive station expansion but allow for further community-focus design for each hub. Stephen comments, “our modular construction approach will not only use local technology and manufacturing expertise, but also allow for each hub to be constructed in response to the specific and evolving needs of the local community.”

The vehicle, developed by Transport Design International, will be battery powered and highly manoeuvrable, making it suitable for the towns, cities and the proposed tunnels of Cambridgeshire. Through Mott MacDonald’s localised manufacturing centre initiative, the company is proposing to build the CAM vehicle in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, providing skills and jobs in assembly and then ongoing work in maintenance. The thinking is that this would provide the basis needed for a local self-sustainable industry through vehicle production to other cities.

The Mott MacDonald concept has the potential to deliver significant cost savings through a surface option running solution delivering £1bn to £1.5bn in savings. In addition, by using the latest technology, and efficiencies in design, construction and network operations savings to the capital costs of the sub-surface infrastructure are estimated to be between £300m and £500m.

Stephen continues, “the collaborative environment we established at the start of this process meant that we have been able to draw upon the very best specialist expertise in transit design and create a credible, scalable and flexible concept using a blend of new and proven technology, that will ultimately benefit the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”

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