A PROPOSED mass transit system cutting through the heart of West Leeds would “future proof” public transport in the region – a committee was told, writes Local Democracy Reporter Chris Young.
Transport companies, academics and businesses across the world are currently being consulted on ambitious plans to create the new system, which could include vehicles powered by the most up to date technologies.
Members of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Board discussed the plans at a meeting on Wednesday where the project was described as “really important” for the future of the region.
A proposed City Region Transit Network was first revealed earlier this year. It included a line that would link Dewsbury to the University area of Leeds, via Bradford city centre.
It would include stops in areas not currently linked to rail networks, including Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton, Junction 26 of the M62, “South Bradford” and Laisterdyke.
It would also include stops at existing stations at Low Moor, Bradford Interchange, Bradford Forster Square and Pudsey.
There would also be routes to Thorpe Park to Leeds city centre via Bramley and Armley, a line linking Castleford, Junction 28 of the M62, the Temple Green park and ride and the Leeds University District.
At Wednesday’s meeting members were told that there was a blank canvass – because there was not currently a mass transit system in the area.
The final plans could take a number of different forms, and include emerging technologies and automation.
Whatever form the plans take, the system is unlikely to be operational until 2033.
A call for ideas for the scheme went out last month and runs until Halloween. It will ask the developers of systems from around the world for advice on the best type of system for West Yorkshire.
This will include green transport schemes.
Jon Sheard, Head Of Finance, said:
“We are planning schemes for the future that improve transport infrastructure and help deal with the climate emergency we are facing.
“At this point we are looking to gather a broad church of organisations and listen to their ideas.”
At the meeting Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said:
“This is a really important project.
“We talk a lot about HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will be game changers for our region, but people still have to be able to connect with them. This will give us that.
“This process will help us find out what is best and hopefully get a system where we don’t have to dig big channels through the ground.
“I’m encouraged by this work.”
She asked how much the project was likely to cost, officers told her the costings would not likely be worked out for several months.
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Committee, said:
“It is important we keep sight of this. It is the opportunity to future proof local transport, rather than just work to catch up to other areas over the next few decades.”
Members were told there had been an encouraging response to the call for ideas so far.
Early plans for the system include frequent city centre stops and stops every kilometre or so in other areas.
Vehicles are expected to enable 200 to 300 people to get on/off at every stop.