A senior politician and environmental campaigner in West Leeds has called on transport chiefs to reopen some of the city’s lost railway stations, writes local democracy reporter Richard Beecham.
The leader of the council’s Green Party group Coun David Blackburn (Farnley & Wortley) told a meeting of the authority’s climate emergency board that plans to expand park and ride schemes were not environmentally friendly enough, and that west Leeds should have extra rail stations to combat CO2 emissions.
His comments came during a discussion about a report looking into the future of public transport in the city. He added that, should railway stations decommissioned decades ago be reopened, people would use them.
Coun Blackburn told the meeting:
“This report tells us what we are doing and some of it is very good. What about climate change?
“Park and ride is a very effective way of stopping vehicles going into the town, but it is not a modal shift. I have supported introducing park and ride because it keeps vehicles out of the town centre. But we want to get people out of those vehicles coming into the city.
“That needs proper public transport. It has to come from West Yorkshire, but a lot of our problems come from North Yorkshire and Harrogate.”
He added that a local government body responsible for public transport, such as TfL in London, was needed:
“In West Leeds we have got one station, in Bramley,” he said. “We used to have loads, but they have been closed many years ago. If they were reopened, they would be used, but we are not looking at that.”
Coun Blackburn referred to a report by government transport expert Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s, which led to the closure of a number of Leeds’s smaller stations.
“We are not looking at the infrastructure closed down by Dr Beeching – there is still some structure there that we can use.
“We need government money. I have always supported [head of regional transport authority] Kim Groves’s position to get money from central government.
“But the ambition is not there, and what we are doing now is not good enough.”
A number of stations in west Leeds, including Armley Canal Road, Kirkstall, Lowtown in Pudsey and Stanningley were closed in the 1960s following the Beeching report.
A council officer responded to Coun Blackburn’s comments:
“There have been some modal shift on park and ride. I started at the council 12 years ago, and consultants advised us park and rides wouldn’t work. Now we can’t build them quickly enough.
“We need an integrated transport strategy, it goes out much further than Leeds and out to West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region.
“There is a lot of work going on about mass rapid transit going out towards the Bradford corridor and east Leeds. But, again, funding is an issue.”