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Transport projects and consultations

The Chisholm Trail

The Chisholm Trail is a walking and cycling scheme. It is a mostly traffic-free route between Cambridge Station and the new Cambridge North Station. It would link to Addenbrooke’s and the Biomedical Campus and to the Business and Science Park. The scheme will benefit residents, students and commuters by improving access to key locations and making routes congestion free.

The north-to-south route closely follows the railway line. This quicker and safer route would be largely off-road or along quiet streets avoiding busy junctions. The proposals would link up green spaces in Cambridge including Coldham’s Common, the currently private Leper Chapel Meadows and Barnwell Lake area, with Ditton Meadows (as well as Stourbridge Common beyond). The Trail would also connect to the Busway by Cambridge Station and the Busway Extension by the planned Cambridge North Station.

This route would help to reduce congestion in Cambridge by creating a safer alternative route to cross the city. We believe that in order to get more people walking and cycling, we need to provide attractive, quick and convenient routes between destinations. This will also encourage less confident cyclists to choose to travel by bike.

Project Progress

A Local Liaison Forum has been set up for this project. Members of the public are welcome to attend these.

On Thursday 3 March 2016 the City Deal Executive Board gave approval for Council Officers to make a planning application for the proposed route of the Chisholm Trail and supported ongoing land negotiations. The summary report on the Chisholm Trail (PDF) is now available and details of the route and widths of the Chisholm Trail, can be viewed on South Cambridgeshire District Council’s website.

The report was informed by a public consultation, which was held in Autumn 2015. 1,457 respondents completed the paper and online questionnaire with 86% indicating they supported the suggested route of the Chisholm Trail.

Have your say

A full public consultation ran from 19 October to 30 November 2015. Leaflets and questionnaires were distributed to those directly affected along the proposed Trail route, to local community centres and libraries. Information about the Trail appeared in the local news including Cambridge News and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. There were opportunities to discuss the proposals in person, fill out the survey online as well as join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Project Officers were available at 4 public events, which were held at Anglia Ruskin University on East Road, Nuffield Gym near Coldham’s Lane, Abbey Stadium and at Shirley Primary School, Chesterton.  Additional events, specifically aimed at businesses, were held on the Science and Business Parks having been organised and promoted by Travel Plan Plus. Officers also attended the Cambridge Regional College Open Day, to gain feedback from younger people. 

The Route


chisholm trail map

The map above is a representation of the proposed walking and cycling route including possible access points. The off-road sections are shown in orange and the on-road sections are shown in purple.

The Trail would make it easier for students cycling to Cambridge Regional College, for commuters arriving at the planned Cambridge North Station to walk to workplaces south of the river and for workers to travel between the Science Park, Business Park, Addenbrooke’s and the Biomedical Campus. It also links to Leisure facilities like Cambridge Leisure Park and Abbey Pool.

Information about areas along the route including Ditton Meadows, the Leper Chapel Meadow, Coldham’s Common and on-road sections as well as possible improvements to the jetty under the railway bridge and the creation of an underpass for Newmarket Road can be found in the consultation leaflet (pdf, 4.5MB).

A Background Paper (pdf, 5MB) developed by project consultant John Grimshaw OBE with further details about the proposals is also available. The Brief (pdf, 175 KB) given to John Grimshaw is also available.

There are opportunities to enhance the Trail through tree planting, public art, habitat creation and the provision of boards with historical and environmental information. We will also look to provide cycle racks and seating.

In order to ensure safety, paths next to the railway line in built-up areas will require lighting, other paths e.g. the proposed path along the edge of Ditton Meadows could also be lit, with ground stud lights or low impact down lights. Coldham’s Common is currently lit. No changes to existing street lighting are proposed.
This is an ambitious project subject to agreement with key stakeholders and landowners including Network Rail, Cambridge Past, Present and Future and Gonville & Caius College. The suggestion of a Trail along the railway line came from Jim Chisholm, a local Cambridge resident and campaigner.

Sections of the Trail

The Busway, Cambridge North Station to Ditton Meadows

In Chesterton, the Trail will access the new Station via Moss Bank and join up with the track alongside the Busway Extension Road via a raised crossing point. The existing towpath along the river would be resurfaced and widened in this area.

A new bridge close to the existing railway bridge continues the Trail across the river. Known currently as the ‘Abbey-Chesterton bridge’, this £4.5m project is funded separately and is under consideration by the County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee and subject to a planning application. 

The existing narrow wooden jetty under the railway bridge could be replaced with a new 2m wide steel jetty with wing out railing to allow 2.5m of space at bicycle handlebar height. This would not hamper rowing.

A high cost alternative would be the create a tunnel through the railway embankment. Detailed engineering assessment would be needed to see if it is possible to create a tunnel here.

On Ditton Meadows a path would follow the field boundary by the railway line. Works would include: creating a ditch in the area currently beyond the field fence to improve drainage and new fencing.

The Leper Chapel and Barnwell Lake
The route would follow the stream to the Leper Chapel, Cambridge’s oldest complete building, on land owned by Cambridge Past, Present and Future.

A new underpass below Newmarket Road would be needed to ensure a safe and direct crossing for Trail users whilst not impacting on traffic on this key bus route. Given the historical significance of the area the underpass would be carefully designed to reflect its surroundings.

The area around Barnwell Lake has potential to be developed for public access e.g. improved car parking, access for disabled people or even a café, subject to planning permission.

Coldham’s Common
The path across the Common would be upgraded and widened. We are investigating the possibility of lowering the floor of the underpass slightly to increase head room for cyclists. This is subject to discussion with Network Rail and other stakeholders and will need detailed engineering assessment. The sight lines around the existing underpass would be improved. There are opportunities for landscaping, planting and habitat creation in this area.

A new crossing point would be needed on Coldhams Lane. The existing unusual crossing by Coldham’s Lane Bridge will be reviewed to see if any improvements can be made to make crossings easier. Changes are constrained by the need for the lorry turning point to facilitate access the Meadows Industrial Estate.  We would look to place a crossing point near the end of Brampton Road to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists, with minimal delays to motorists.

Northern city-side section
The trail splits into sections which follow very low traffic streets either side of the railway line. This side crosses the Beehive Centre, York Street, Ainsworth Street, Hooper Street and the area next to the Mill Road Depot site.

Southern city-side section
The southern section of the Trail can be accessed via Cromwell Road or Brampton Road. Access to the proposed path along the railway line on Network Rail land is through the soon to be developed Ridgeons’ site and ajoining Network Rail land next to the railway line. Parking is unaffected although there are opportunities for improvements e.g. road resurfacing and planting.

The railway line
The path would run through the currently unused arches of Mill Road Bridge on both Northern and Southern sides, avoiding on road hazards. The proposal is for the route to run in-between the railway line and boundary fencing along tracks currently used for works vehicles. In this area fencing and new gates for Network Rail maintenance access will be needed to ensure safety.

The cycleways on both sides of the railway line in this area would be around 4m wide, with occasional widenings and narrowings. On the Southern sidea new ramp might be needed to join the Trail to the Carter Bridge. Accesses to the Trail could be created from William Smith Close and Argyle Street. The southern Busway and Trumpington Park & Ride are reached across the new Station Square.

£8.4m of City Deal funding has been allocated to the Chisholm Trail. Should the project receive approval and permissions needed to go ahead, we will seek to build the scheme within 5 years.

Contact us

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