A major boost for Leeds rail commuters has been announced by the Government with a raft of measures to improve the quality and quantity of services – but it will be funded by inflation-busting fare rises.
The unprecedented £9 billion spending spree on projects across the country will include the funding of the £500m Northern Hub, slashing journey times between Leeds and Manchester and resulting in hundreds more services across the North.
There will also be a £240m investment in the east coast main line which will increase capacity and cut journey times between Leeds and London, extended electrification of routes to York and Selby and a fully electrified trans-Pennine route that will free up existing diesel trains to be used elsewhere.
The Government has denied there will be additional fare rises – but will go through with plans for hikes of inflation plus three pre cent for the next two years, and inflation plus one per cent in 2015.
Transport Minister Norman Baker, speaking during a visit to Leeds train station yesterday, said: “It’s very important that we change the direction of travel from the last Government where there was a huge concentration of investment in the South East. If you look at the package today you will find it is quite Northern based – with the Northern Hub being completed, the Midland main line to Sheffield, with the East Coast main line improvements – we want to rebalance the economy away from London and the South East.”
The announcement comes after the Government already gave the green light for the £250m electric trolleybus scheme and the new £14 million Southern Entrance at Leeds station.
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said: “I am delighted that the Government have announced this major investment, which is the biggest investment in our railways since Victorian times and also a huge investment in the north of England.
“This is a massive boost to the economy which will deliver economic growth for the north including West Yorkshire and Leeds as its economic powerhouse.
“This is a massive vote of confidence in Leeds and West Yorkshire, and a boost to public transport and to the economy.”