NEW PLANS: Multi-billion pound mass transit scheme could start construction by 2025
New plans for a multi-billion pound mass transit system covering the whole of West Yorkshire have been revealed by regional leaders this morning – with construction hoped to start in the next five years.
Although it is not yet known what the total cost of the scheme would be, it is expected to run to at least several billions of pounds.
Regional leaders hope West Yorkshire’s new mayoral authority will help make the dream a reality.
Plans include nine potential lines, with dozens of stops, including Leeds Bradford Airport, Leeds General Infirmary, St James’s Hospital, Elland Road and the White Rose Centre. Unlike previous proposals, the scheme covers the whole of the region, stretching to Huddersfield, Halifax, Pontefract, Bradford and Wakefield.
According to the plans, construction could start on lines as early as 2025, with priority given to lines in and around Leeds. If all goes to plan, the final scheme could be completed at early as 2040.
An outline business case is expected to be submitted to government by next year, in the hopes of getting a share of a £4.2bn fund set aside for transport.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) transport committee chairwoman Coun Kim Groves said: “This work is so important – we are going to be a mayoral authority, we are going to be able to bid into funding, and we have had funding devolved down.
“Because we started with a blank canvas, they will be able to see where they can link in with their communities – they will be able to see all the different modes.
“It’s going to be transformational across West Yorkshire and will make people change their behaviour in how they travel.
“We also have the climate change challenge and everyone is wanting to contribute to that. The private car is the biggest thing we need to address.”
Plans to build a £250m trolley bus network in Leeds were scrapped at the eleventh hour by Government in 2016, after a report from a planning inspector said the scheme was “not in the public interest”. It followed two other failed Leeds schemes devised in the late 1980s and late 1990s.
But leaders feel West Yorkshire’s upcoming mayoral authority status will help get the scheme over the line.
WYCA chairwoman Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Even the Prime Minister has mentioned our region not having mass transit. Government want to see it invested in, we need it to happen for the sake of our economy.
“Being a mayoral authority now, with the additional moneys that provides, gives us additional resource to deliver it. The time is right to get motoring with it.
“But you can’t do this overnight. I was told this would take 15 years overall, so manage your expectations. We build one, then we build on and keep building on.”
While a decision has not yet been taken on what technology will be used on the line, it is likely it will be some form of tram system. The four listed potential technologies include “advanced bus rapid transit”, “light rail/tram”, “tram train” and “ultra light rail”.
The North Leeds line would run from Leeds Bradford Airport through to Horsforth, Kirkstall Forge, Kirkstall, Cardigan Fields, Leeds General Infirmary and Leeds Arena. It then forks with one part towards Chapel Allerton and Alwoodley, and another to St James’s Hospital, Roundhay, Redhall and “East Leeds”.
The Northwest Leeds line would run from Bradford city centre via Apperley Bridge, Rawdon, Yeadon and Leeds Bradford Airport. Another branch of the line connects Bradford and the airport with Otley, Menston and Guiseley.
The Wakefield and Fivetowns line connects the eponymous areas with stops at Rothwell, Woodlesford, Aire Valley, Hunslet, the Leeds South Bank and Leeds city centre.
The south Leeds line also runs from the city centre and southbank before forming a confluence, running to Beeston, Elland Road and the White Rose Centre; as well as Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton, before meeting again at Tingley.
A west Leeds line would connect Leeds and Bradford city centres via Wortley, Bramley, Pudsey and Laisterdyke.
The East Leeds line connects the station, LGI, Leeds Arena, St James’s Hospital and Harehills, before splitting into one branch towards Seacroft and East Leeds; and another to Cross Gates and Thorpe Park.
Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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