Park and Ride to ease Cereals congestion


Date: 9-10 June 2010

Location: Royston, Hertfordshire

Access from: 07.00 – 18.00 on Wednesday 9 June

07.00 – 17.00 on Thursday 10 June 

A free park and ride service will be implemented to help ease congestion for visitors to this year’s Cereals event at Robert Law’s farm near Royston, Hertfordshire, on 9-10 June.

The service has been introduced in response to criticism of traffic management at previous events. Organiser Haymarket Exhibitions believes the park and ride shuttle is the best solution to resolve the problems.

“From the visitor postcode data and the peak traffic flows we have fully reviewed the impacts of different car parking strategies and concluded that a park and ride service is the best way to prevent congestion,” says event presenter Jon Day.

There will be no visitor car-parking on site, he stresses. Visitors will be encouraged to register online where they will be given directions to one of three satellite car parks. All are within 15-20 minutes of the showground and will operate a regular shuttle bus service to and from the event. “Buses will run every 10 minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes off peak,” he says.

The sites have been selected to take traffic from the west, north and east/south east and will be operational from 6.30am until 7.30pm. Visitors will also be allowed into the event earlier than previous years with access from 7.00am to help avoid peak commuter traffic, Mr Day says.

Preventing the anticipated 26,500 visitors converging on one farm will have a significant impact on traffic flow, he explains. “The park and ride service will alleviate congestion because it will divide the volume of visitor traffic into three.”

But, despite these efforts, concerns are mounting among some regular showgoers that buses will suffer from the same queuing fiasco. However, host farmer Robert Law assures Farmers Weekly that service will be a vast improvement. “The buses will only have to contend with regular road users so queuing shouldn’t be a problem,” he says. “The Royal Welsh show has moved to a park and ride system and it works – I think it is vital to the future success of Cereals.”

Although traffic should be much better managed than previous years, visitors need to plan their journey and follow the instructions they are given, he warns. “Get up early to beat the traffic, stick to the instructions on your ticket and follow the signs to you allocated car park.”

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The decision to hold Cereals on working farms rather than purpose-built showgrounds, where infrastructure and traffic links are better, has not received unanimous approval.

But the host farms are critical to the event’s success, says Haymarket’s Jon Day. “Most farmers wish to see what other farmers are doing on their farms and Cereals is a great opportunity to achieve this while visiting the UK’s leading arable event.”

The host farms also demonstrate best practice in areas such as arable production and biodiversity management, he says. “We are continuing to work with farmers to extend the crop plots and introduce trials in due course which would be very difficult to do on a permanent events site.”

Showgrounds had been considered but the crop plots, Sprays and Sprayers arena and working demonstration areas take up a large area, he explains. “This would cause considerable disruption to a showground which is likely to be used year round for its commercial income and events,” he says.  

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