MINISTERS will "help and encourage" Leeds to make its trolley bus dream a reality, a cabinet minister has pledged.
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said he hoped that Leeds City Council and passenger transport body Metro will be successful with their plans to overhaul public transport in the city.
The business case for a major congestion-busting scheme to replace the failed Leeds Supertram is expected to land on Mr Hoon's Whitehall desk within weeks.
The New Generation Transport trolley bus scheme recently won the backing of regional transport chiefs who hope that construction work could start in 2012. That will, however, rely on it also securing the Transport Secretary's backing.
In his first comments on the project since taking up his post, Mr Hoon said he has had regular discussions with city leaders in Leeds about the project.
Speaking to the YEP, he said: "I used to live in Leeds. It is a city I know well and I have had regular discussions with the city about their proposals and I hope that they are successful.
"I don't think it is particularly helpful for the Secretary of State for Transport in his office in Westminster to be prescribing what are the right local transport arrangements for Leeds.
"But certainly we will help and encourage those cities to bring forward the right scheme for them.
"If in Leeds it is a modern trolley bus, in another city it may be light rail or tram. Other cities may choose different solutions but I think our job is to encourage that diversity of provision."
Mr Hoon, who was a law lecturer at the University of Leeds between 1976 and 1982, said it was "ironic" that cities were bringing back trolley buses and trams after many networks were removed following the Second World War.
The cabinet minister also made clear that the Government's proposed new high-speed rail line could carry on up to Yorkshire. He said that a new company which has been charged with drawing up proposals for a new 200mph line between London and the West Midlands WILL also look at options for extending it further north.
Meanwhile, a rail boss refused to say how much profit his firm is making from passengers travelling between Leeds and London, amid claims that train operators are "fleecing" their passengers.
Paul Bunting, UK director of National Express Trains which runs the East Coast Mainline services, appeared before the influential Commons transport select committee with the heads of four other train firms and the Association of Train Operating Companies.
In bad-tempered scenes, MPs criticised last month's fare increases and told the rail barons they were as unpopular with the public as city bankers.