Leeds slammed for giving up on light rail


The heated debate over light rail in Leeds has been reignited after local politicians criticised the city council for giving up and allocating £270m to other transport projects.

Years of wrangling over a potential mass transit system for the city have not prevented local leaders from calling for the issue to be revisted, even though the latest potential project, the trolley bus or Leeds New Generation Transport (NGT), was rejected by government earlier this year.

Leeds station could become as busy as Gatwick Airport

The Government's rejection left Leeds with around £173m allocated central government cash to spend. The council’s recently announced plans include spending up to £270m on other projects, including a new rail station for Leeds Bradford airport and investing £180m on bus services. 

Alec Shelbrooke, MP for Elmet & Rothwell, said: 'Councillors running the City (therefore) had an opportunity to use this money as a mechanism to attract further investment and finally get an integrated transport system for Leeds’ city centre and the outlying areas.

'Light rail or tram/train would provide a solution to the city’s transport congestion, whilst bringing Leeds up to speed with all other major cities in Europe. Instead, a lack of vision from councillors has resulted in a half-baked plan that fails to exploit the £173m government investment in Leeds”.

Ryan Stephenson, Cllr for Harewood ward, added:'Anything less than a rapid transit system is a missed opportunity by Leeds City Council and it should commission a feasibility study with immediate effect.'

Experts at a recent light rail summit put forward various different options, which they said were more affordable thanks to advances in technology. One expert at the event put forward several options for a 15-30km starter line in the city costing £250m-£300m.

Launching its transport strategy last week, Leeds City Council said it would continue to consider options for a mass transit scheme, but this would ‘require significant additional investment and would not be deliverable by 2021’.

Preston-based TramPower, which has been given planning permission to construct a trial tramline in the town, said technological advances meant that a tram system could be delivered at a much lower cost than the Leeds Supertram scheme cancelled in 2005.

Roger Harrison, former chairman of the Nottingham Tramlink consortium, said that traffic congestion in Leeds is predicted to more than double in the next 30 years and passenger numbers at the railway station could reach similar levels to Gatwick Airport, with a level of footfall far greater than can be served by a bus and taxi-only network.

He said an integrated light rail solution would be a far better investment than more buses.

Also see

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Definitive Map Manager

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
This role is based within the Highways Service at Cambridgeshire County Council and provides an unusual and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Bridge Park Operations Manager

Brent Council
£38,799 - £41,706 p.a. inc.
This is an exciting opportunity to play a key role in managing the operations and contributing towards the... Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
A great opportunity for someone looking to start or develop a career in Highways Engineering including the... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Head of Strategic Transport

Cheshire East Council
£64,000 - £75,000 + benefits
We’re committed to “working for a brighter future together” – and we expect you to be too! Cheshire
Recuriter: Cheshire East Council

Regeneration Manager

Mole Valley District Council
£52,895 - £57,143 FTE
This is a great career opportunity to specialise in town centre regeneration and repositioning. Dorking, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Technical Services Officer (Mechanical)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£36,876 - £38,813
This is an exciting and challenging time for Kirklees and we want to expand our team to manage and deliver construction... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Road and Footway Asset Engineer

Kent County Council
£28,925 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the Road and Footway Asset Team as an Asset Engineer. Kent
Recuriter: Kent County Council

Head of Waste

Lincolnshire County Council
£65,651 - £70,725
As Head of Waste, you will be commercially focussed and forward-thinking. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Assistant Director

Reading Borough Council
Up to £92k
It’s the ideal time to take the lead on our modernisation agenda, and deliver growth in the trading of our front line services. Reading, Berkshire
Recuriter: Reading Borough Council

Assistant Director – Highways

Lincolnshire County Council
£82,264 - £107,878
Come and lead the future agenda for our highways services. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

County Highways Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
Seeking a highly motivated leader and an excellent communicator, who has a proven ability to build relationships and trust, leading by example. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Local Highways Manager (East) - Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council
G12 £43,662 - £50,430
Seeking someone who combines excellent technical knowledge with a dedication to the customer. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council