West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair, Cllr Keith Wakefield has welcomed today’s announcement by Leeds City Council of new rail stations, including one serving Leeds Bradford Airport.
Responding to the announcement, Councillor Wakefield said: “Building on the success of the local rail system and developing better links with new stations for Leeds Bradford Airport, White Rose Centre and Thorpe Park, are key to the Combined Authority’s aim of developing a modern integrated transport network for the Leeds City Region.
“West Yorkshire already has an extensive metropolitan rail network with 69 stations, which local people use to make approaching 20 million journeys each year. We have opened two of those stations - Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge - in the past 12 months along with the new, award-winning Leeds Station Southern Entrance, which is used by around 20,000 people per day.
“These new stations will support key areas of economic growth as well as complementing the Combined Authority’s programme of creating new park and ride spaces at stations across West Yorkshire to add to the 2,500 that already exist.
“Initial analysis of the responses to our recent, countywide transport consultations confirms that individuals and businesses want to see the kinds off quick-win improvements the schemes announced today will deliver, with their benefits being felt across the City Region.”
Today’s announcement of the new parkway rail station connecting to Leeds Bradford Airport , along with two other new rail stations and additional rail network improvements, are the first details to be revealed ahead of an ambitious new transport strategy for Leeds being released tomorrow, Tuesday 6 December.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “These plans announced today and the full proposals and strategy to be released tomorrow represent a transformational step change for public transport in Leeds. Through the transport conversation we have been given a clear message that people want improvements to be made to benefit all areas of the city as soon as possible, not in another 10 or 15 years’ time but now. I am very pleased to say that everything we are putting forward in this plan is deliverable in the short to medium term.
“Providing a connection by rail to the airport has long been an ambition for the city and this plan will deliver it in a cost-effective way, along with two other new stations at the White Rose Shopping Centre and Thorpe Park to help drive forward job creation, productivity and economic growth. These plans all fit with the Department of Transport request that we invest the £173.5million in public transport improvements before the end of 2021, and I am delighted that together with additional funding proposed by stakeholders and private partners we can now do even more to improve transport in our city and make a real difference.
“Options for a mass transit scheme are still very much under consideration, but it needs to be right for the whole city and the reality is such a scheme would need a lot more investment and would take a lot longer to deliver, whereas there is a clear priority need to deliver changes now in order to get Leeds moving.”
The council and its partners are continuing to consider options for a mass transit scheme for Leeds, but this will require significant additional investment and would not be deliverable by 2021.
Leeds’ new strategy is in response to the findings of the biggest-ever transport conversation survey held recently with residents, businesses, stakeholders and visitors to the city, in over 8,000 people took part.
The feedback has shown a desire for deliverable improvements to be made in the immediate to short term on improving public transport across the city. Trends show a need for better rail and bus services, a clear demand for additional park and ride services, congestion issues to be addressed along with improved accessibility to bring communities, businesses and jobs closer together to boost connectivity and the overall economy and productivity of Leeds.
The new parkway station would be built on the existing Leeds to Harrogate line, connecting to the wider rail network and serving and supporting the development of the fastest-growing regional airport in the UK which is used by 3.3million passengers a year and contributes £100m annually to the city region economy.
The new station would see jobs and employment opportunities created, and would also act as a park and ride station to be used by commuters to Leeds and Harrogate, boosting both economies. In addition it would remove cars from the highway network, in Leeds easing congestion issues in the north of the city and improving air quality.
Two other new stations are also proposed at White Rose Shopping Centre and Office Park to support retail, connectivity and employment and at Thorpe Park to support job creation and housing growth along the East Leeds Extension. This is part of an inclusive approach helping to connect people to growth points in the Leeds economy.
The new stations would be part-funded from the £173.5million of Department of Transport funding secured following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus in May, with the funds needing to be invested in public transport before the end of 2021.
Support from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private sector stakeholders increases the funding available to in excess of £270m for Leeds.
Together with a wide range of significant improvements proposed for other elements of transport in Leeds to be announced, the plans and new strategy have been hailed as “transformational” by the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake.
Other improvements proposed for the rail network in Leeds would see access enhanced at Cross Gates, Morley and Horsforth stations and car park expansion at New Pudsey to increase its park and ride capacity. These upgrades will complement improved rail services to Leeds which will see increases in capacity through longer trains and more frequent services, especially at peak times. The outdated pacer units will also be withdrawn by 2020.
Work will also progress in the coming months on preparing the city for high-speed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (formerly HS3), with the masterplan for the remodelled Leeds Station being developed by a world-renowned team including Hiro Aso, the lead architect behind the acclaimed redevelopment of King’s Cross in London. The masterplan will guide the revamp of Leeds Station into a distinctive modern destination and fully integrated national transport hub along with maximising the development opportunities surrounding the station and acting as a gateway to the city centre and the South Bank Leeds.
The new Leeds Transport Strategy has been supported and guided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the new Leeds transport advisory panel. The panel is chaired by Director of Strategy for Transport for the North Nigel Foster, and includes leading transport experts and senior figures from transport bodies and organisations, along with representatives from the worlds of business, education, planning, accessibility, equalities and campaign groups.
It also forms part of the wider regional strategic economic plan which aims to deliver up to 35,000 new jobs and an additional £3.7billion of economic output by 2036.
The proposals and strategy released tomorrow will be considered by senior councillors at next week’s executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 14 December and if approved will then go to the Department of Transport for its consideration.