More sustainable options could reduce congestion

I am bemused by the continuing pressure to widen the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton (Planning, 5 December, p7).

What is the real purpose of doing this?

In these straitened times, it is surely essential to establish the context and aims very clearly to identify the benefits of spending public money. This should include wider planning implications, not simply standard figures manipulated in a conventional cost-benefit analysis model.

The forecast problem is expansion of local traffic, especially for the new town of Northstowe. Northstowe lies on the Cambridgeshire Busway, opened in August on a former rail line parallel to the A14. This cost £160 million for a small fleet of buses and 25 kilometres of concrete track and seems to have had no impact on traffic on the A14.

Yet the line could have been used for a modern light rail line between Cambridge, St Ives and Huntingdon, serving the centre of Northstowe and perhaps extended to Alconbury. This could provide a reliable, high-capacity service through the corridor, supporting greater levels of economic activity while reducing car journeys. Our European neighbours do this as a matter of course. Why don't we?

Reg Harman, Hertford.

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