Leeds's trolleybus pain is capital punishment

A single train station development in London is set to cost FOUR TIMES the estimated price of the stalled Leeds trolleybus scheme.

Government ministers knocked back a bid for funding for the congestion-busting trolleybus system in October, telling local transport bosses to find ways to reduce its 250m price tag.

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That amount, however, is dwarfed by the huge sums that continue to be set aside for London's 15bn Crossrail project, which will provide a new railway link through the heart of the capital.

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About 1bn is being spent on the joint construction of a new Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road and redevelopment of the site's existing Tube stop.

A further 1bn has been earmarked for new rolling stock and depot facilities for the 73-mile east-west route.

Contracts for the creation of 11 miles of tunnelling for the scheme underneath central London are worth 1.25bn.

Responding to the figures, Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves (Lab) said: "If

anything we should be investing more in the North to catch up with previous spending in the South.

"Instead, transport investment in London continues while everything in Leeds seems stuck in the slow lane."

A Department for Transport spokesman today said Crossrail was a project of "national significance" that would benefit the country as a whole.

He went on: "(Trolleybus] is being treated in a way which is consistent with other local authority schemes – the promoters of all schemes have been challenged to find cost savings .... and Leeds is no exception."

A spokesman for Crossrail, meanwhile, stressed that more than 60 per cent of the project's costs would be met by passengers, London taxpayers and London-based businesses rather than central government.

Plans for Leeds's trolleybus network were drawn up after Labour withdrew support for the city's Supertram light rail scheme in 2005.

A final decision on funding for the trolleybus scheme is due next year.

Joanne Mjadzelics

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