Region’s prowess in future mobility demonstrated by successful funding bids

March 9th 2023

Region’s prowess in future mobility demonstrated by successful funding bids

The region’s vital contribution to UK innovation has been demonstrated again after the government backed several ‘future mobility’ projects in the Heartland with millions of pounds in funding.

Four projects in Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes and Hertfordshire received funding to progress work associated with connected and autonomous vehicles, including a bid to support dedicated driverless space on the HERT rapid transit scheme which was directly supported by EEH.

The funding comes as our Strategic Transport Leadership Board agreed for EEH to take oversight of a ‘future mobility’ workstream. Working alongside our pan-regional partnerships, EEH will now seek to create a new cross sector community of interest, bringing the area’s future of mobility businesses, assets and opportunities together – creating opportunities to harness innovation to improve our transport system while boosting jobs and economic growth.

The schemes awarded funding by DfT are:

  • Cambridge Connector: This project will pilot on-demand self-driving vehicles. Up to 13 electric vehicles will provide passenger services that integrate with existing transport services within Cambridge across two sites: Cambridge University’s West Cambridge Campus and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. £8.7 million was awarded by government to the project, matched by industry to a total of £17.4 million. The Greater Cambridge Partnership is the lead partner for the project, working in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and University of Cambridge.
  • Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit (HERT): HERT envisages a new, sustainable passenger transport network that will carry more people than a car but will be more convenient and reliable than a traditional bus. It will run from Hemel Hempstead and West Watford, joining just south of St Albans in Hertfordshire, to Harlow in Essex and onwards to Stansted Airport. EEH worked with partners including Hertfordshire County Council and City Science to secure £142,000 for a project into the potential use of segregated, ‘dedicated, driverless’ road space along the HERT route: the A414 between Hemel Hempstead and Stansted Airport. Roads that would benefit from segregated self-driving vehicle operations have been identified using previous research conducted by the project team for the National Infrastructure Commission.
  • Milton Keynes advanced very rapid transport (AVRT): AVRT is a new concept in mass transit, using automated vehicles on purpose-designed segregated pathways. Milton Keynes City Council secured £200,000 funding to commission a study to determine how an AVRT project could fit in with the city’s current and proposed infrastructure. The study will look at how AVRT could provide future transport solutions and deliver fast, frequent and reliable public transport. An area of key routes around 18 miles in and around Milton Keynes will be the focus of the study.
  • Cambridge Autonomous Rapid Transport: Greater Cambridge Partnership secured £92,000 to explore the potential of connected and automated mobility technology to support the delivery of a new development and solve existing challenges of overly congested roads, and homes and job creation, in a dense and urban area. The Cambridge Autonomous Rapid Transit corridor would run through eastern Cambridge linking the Newmarket Road Park & Ride facility (Newmarket Road/Airport Way) through the Cambridge Airport site with Cambridge Station.