Cambridge Connect Light Rail Network

16th May 2023


 Who is Cambridge Connect?

Cambridge Connect is an independent initiative aimed at creating a sustainable and rapid transit system to address the transport challenges that Cambridge faces. The initiative is not aligned with any political party, organisation, or group and aims to contribute to discussions about medium to long-term solutions based on research and data.


What is Light Rail?

Light Rail is a system of railways usually powered by overhead electrical wires and used for medium-capacity local transportation in metropolitan areas. Light rail vehicles (LRVs) are a technological outgrowth of trams and metros. Light rail transit lines are more segregated from street traffic than tramways, and the several lines of rail will be a combination of both underground and overground. The purpose is to provide a sustainable mode of transport to accommodate the steep incline in population.



The Isaac Newton Line

The Isaac Newton Line will be the main and longest line in this proposal, running for 47km from Cambourne in the west to Haverhill in the southeast. It will be delivered in three phases:

  • Phase One

o 20km

o Set to cost £632 million

o From the Girton Interchange to Granta Park via Eddington, the University West Campus, Grange Road, City Centre, Cambridge Central Rail Station, Addenbrookes, Shelford and Sawston.

  • Phase Two

o 12km

o Extend from the Girton Interchange to Cambourne.

  • Phase Three

o 15km

o Extend from Granta Park to Haverhill.


The Darwin Line:

The Darwin Line would include stops at Clay Farm, Trumpington and Trumpington Meadows (near M11).

  • Phase One

o 2 km

o Would include the southern spur of the converted guided busway to Trumpington, linking key residential, commercial, educational, health and employment centres in Cambridge and the nearby area.

  • Phase Two

o 6.5 km

o Would extend from the University of Cambridge West Campus to the Science Park and Cambridge North Station. This line would also include stops at Darwin Green residential development, linking the West Campus to Cambourne (Isaac Newton Line) and to the Science Park (Darwin Line).

There will be 2.6km of tunnel built with one full underground station in Cambridge city centre, costing £100m. One cut and cover station are also proposed for Parkside, costing £50m.

How it could benefit

We are facing economic issues that need action, particularly in the post-pandemic period when the public transport sector has taken a hit, especially bus travel. This is not good in the current state of the climate emergency. The cost-of-living crisis is also affecting the way people travel. Moreover, we’re seeing a rapid increase in population which, if the right infrastructure is not in place, will cause stress on the environment and cities’ capabilities.

Cambridge Connect states that their city will need better public transport infrastructure in 10-15 years due to the forecasted population growth. “It’s projected that ~120,000 more people will be residents in Cambridge City and the surrounding South Cambs District by 2031 than in 2011: the equivalent of the population of Cambridge City again.”

A light rail system of this size is likely to take 10–15 years. Therefore, Cambridge Connect is extremely keen to turn this proposal into a reality.

What do you think? Are you for, or against the Light Rail concept?


Link to case studies: