Home » West Yorkshire sets out vision for mass transit boom

West Yorkshire sets out vision for mass transit boom

by Mark Cantrell
The Mayor of West Yorkshire has unveiled plans for a tram system running between Leeds and Bradford intended to revolutionise the region's transport network.

The Mayor of West Yorkshire has unveiled plans for a tram system running between Leeds and Bradford intended to revolutionise the region’s transport network.

The proposals have been published ahead of the final combined authority meeting of the region’s leaders this week, ahead of May’s mayoral election.

The meeting is expected to see them agree to a major step forward for the so-called mass transit scheme. It is hoped that spades will be in the ground in 2028 when construction of the early stage of the project will begin.

Phase one would include two lines serving Leeds and Bradford, the two major cities within the conurbation. The Leeds Line would take people between St James’ Hospital, through Leeds city centre and on to Elland Road and the White Rose Shopping Centre.

The Bradford Line would run from Leeds city centre to Bradford city centre – also linking the city’s Forster Square station with the new Bradford rail station. This line would also support Bradford’s plans to regenerate the city’s southern gateway, which includes the new rail station.

The combined authority would also work with Kirklees Council to look into how to include a Dewsbury Line in future.

West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin said: “[This] is a key milestone in our plan to create a better-connected region that works for all. By setting out our plans to submit to government, we are taking a major step forward towards the biggest infrastructure project West Yorkshire has seen since the development of the motorways six decades ago.

“This will be transformational for the North, helping our communities to thrive and our economy to flourish – benefiting generations to come with greater opportunity and prosperity.

“We know that mass transit systems have successfully helped to regenerate areas right across the country by boosting connectivity, opportunity and prosperity – and we will work tirelessly to make sure that happens here in West Yorkshire.”

The combined authority says it will continue to work with local authorities to ensure that future phases of a mass transit network reach Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale, ensuring no part of West Yorkshire is “left behind”.

The submission of the combined authority’s ‘strategic outline case’ document to the Department for Transport is set to be approved by members of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority on 14 March. The document will then be sent by the Mayor Brabin to the government for approval to continue with the development of the scheme.

The project will be subjected to a full business case and approvals process, but the announcement of the phase 1 plans do not “pre-empt the exact route”, the combined authority says; it will be subject to full public consultation.

The public will be given their say in the summer on the possible routes, with the two ‘phase one’ Leeds and Bradford lines expected to be joined later by potential further schemes covering the rest of the region.

The authority will also work on a £1m mass transit development fund to be set aside to support the Dewsbury Line Development Project, which will look into how to get mass transit to connect Kirklees with Leeds.

Mind the gap

The mass transit system is anticipated to form a key part of a wider integrated transport system in the region; intended to seamlessly integrate with bus, rail, cycling and walking, so that everyone can get across the region with ease.

Big city conurbations, like Greater Manchester, and Birmingham, already have tram systems, but as Bradford Council leader, Susan Hinchcliffe, pointed out, West Yorkshire is currently “the biggest region in the country without a mass transit system”.

“These tram proposals are part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for comprehensive new transport links, which will undoubtedly enhance people’s lives,” she added.

“We are already making good progress on developing plans for better rail transport nationally for Bradford, and this exciting new mass transit system supports our aim to connect Bradford more widely across West Yorkshire and also to connect the two Bradford city centre stations.”

Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Mass transit will transform transport across our city and the wider region, helping to boost our economy and bringing our communities within easier reach of jobs and leisure opportunities.

“This is an important step forward in delivering mass transit, but there is still much to do and we are committed to working with the Combined Authority and our partners so this can be achieved for the benefit of people across West Yorkshire.”

Main image: Artist’s impression showing features of a regular urban and rural transport corridor featuring a mass transit system, not necessarily reflect any future design of West Yorkshire’s proposed system. Courtesy of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority


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