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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Hard and soft transport solutions sustainable mobility options

Keiichi Tetsuya

Hard and soft transport solutions sustainable mobility options

With a world renowned university and prime centre for research and technology, Cambridge Sub-region, area within 25 mile radius of the city of Cambridge enjoys one of the fastest growing economies in the UK, while maintaining the attractive living environment and quality of life. However, the contradictory nature of the planning policies in the region has brought serious consequences namely the transport problems, causing severe congestion – wasting time, energy, increasing pollution and reducing local safety. This is a major restraint for Cambridge, as large firms required to be attracted into the region to sustain strong economic growth and subsequent increase in population will impose further strain to the transport system which is already at capacity, deteriorating the standard of living as well as affecting political and commercial decisions about the location of businesses. There is a major risk that Cambridge can become a victim of its own success.

Within Cambridge Sub-region, A14 – Cambridge to Huntingdon corridor, situated in North West was identified by the UK government as one of the area with most severe transport problems. There are two possible types of solutions to resolve the transport problems. These are ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ transport solutions, where ‘Hard’ solutions refer to conventional measures such as road widening, provision of bypass route etc, and ‘Soft’ solutions which focus on more efficient use of existing capacity through schemes to change attitudes to the use of the automobile (e.g. Congestion charging, TravelSmart campaign etc).

In this project, the sustainability assessment was conducted for each of the ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ transport solutions based on twelve sustainability criteria. Examples of such criteria include, trip number change, modal split, emission, noise, mobility equity, health & safety, cost & resource use associated with implementation etc. For ‘Soft’ measures, case study analysis from other cities was also conducted to assess their relationship with other measures and transferability to the A14 - Cambridge to Huntingdon corridor context to determine the optimum strategy.

The study will then investigate how effective could the ‘Soft’ measures be in realising sustainable transportation by conducting comparative analysis in two zones along the A14 corridor – one zone with major housing development and one with no proposed development, under four different development scenarios. These scenarios are, ‘Minimum Hard solution only’, ‘Minimum Hard solution with Soft measures’, ‘Hard solution only’ and ‘Hard solution with Soft measures’.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.