Could West Leeds mass transit system use hydrogen-powered vehicles?


Innovative technologies such as battery and hydrogen-powered vehicles could play a part in a future public transport network in West Yorkshire, writes Richard Beecham.

A report, set to go before a meeting of senior councillors this week, claims new technologies are changing the face of mass transit, and could also help towards improving air quality.

It follows the publication last November of early plans for a proposed mass-transit system in the region, which would coincide with the planned arrival of HS2 in 2033.

West Leeds could benefit from one of three new lines which could be built from Leeds city centre out into neighbouring areas.

Early plans – dubbed as ‘the start of a conversation’ by transport chiefs – feature a route that could run from Leeds city centre to Holbeck, Armley, Bramley and Pudsey before heading into Bradford and North Kirklees, ending at Dewsbury.

The report, which is set to go before a meeting of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Board (LEP), stated:

“It is likely that mass transit has an important role to play for some of these services given the scale of demand forecast and the economic needs of these communities.

“Different modes of transport serve different needs and provide different levels of capacity. Technologies have moved forwards significantly in the last decade.

“For example, new battery technologies, hydrogen propulsion and autonomous innovations are changing advance mass transit vehicle technologies, which also improve air quality. There are a range of pros and cons for each individual vehicle technology option.”

Due to the demand for added capacity, the report warned that vehicles would need to be able to carry between 200 and 300 people at a time, which would require them to run on steel rails.

It added:

“The mass transit vehicles would be just one element of integrated future pipeline; the system would need to be integrated within the wider public transport offer, for example through bus services feeding the mass transit services. Bus will continue to have a very important role in the transport network.

“This is only the start of the conversation. Through the conversation with stakeholders and the public as well as through the development of the business cases, other modes such bus rapid transit or tram-train will continue to be assessed and may be more suitable for example, where there lower levels of capacity are required or where there is direct interface with the heavy rail network respectively.

“Significant further development work is required on the city region transit network and would be informed by the conclusions of the forthcoming engagement.”

The paper is set to be discussed at a meeting of the LEP today (Wednesday, January 23).

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