Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has hailed a multi-million pound investment in Leeds’s main train station as the perfect way to keep the city’s economic growth on track.
Mr McLoughlin visited Leeds City Station yesterday to run the rule over the start of work on the site’s new £17.3m southern entrance.
He said major schemes such as the new entrance were “vitally important” for the efforts of cities like Leeds to attract more business.
And he also stressed that Leeds has a key role to play in the developing plans for the country’s HS2 high-speed rail network.
Mr McLoughlin said: “As part of our long-term economic plan we are investing record amounts into transforming our railways and stations, because improved transport links are vital for communities and local businesses.
“I am delighted to have had the chance to see how this iconic new station entrance will rejuvenate Leeds station, and support the continued regeneration of the southern quarter of the city.
“Leeds has great importance within our rail network as a gateway to the north.
“That is why it is crucial to our new high-speed rail link, which will improve connections for the entire region and boost the West Yorkshire economy to the tune of £1bn a year.” The new entrance will provide fully-covered pedestrian access to the station via an extension over the River Aire at Little Neville Street.
There is currently no direct way to reach the station from the south, forcing people walking in from thriving employment areas such as Holbeck urban village to use the Dark Arches to reach its existing entrances off City Square.
Backed by £12.4m of Government funding, the scheme is a collaboration between Network Rail and West Yorkshire passenger transport authority Metro. Metro chairman Coun James Lewis said: “This new, pedestrian entrance will be a great benefit to people living and working south of the river, open up new travel opportunities and provide a further stimulus to redevelopment and expansion of the city centre.
“It will complement the existing entrances on New Station Street and Aire Street while relieving pressure on both, and is part of a city region-wide transport and regeneration plan, which also includes rail stations and trains, proposed electrification of more local rail routes, NGT, major highways improvements, the new 23km cycle superhighway connecting Bradford and Leeds and in, the longer term, HS2.”
A push to make life easier for motorists and rail users in Pudsey was also placed in the spotlight during Mr McLoughlin’s visit.
Mr McLoughlin inspected improvement work at New Pudsey train station that will provide better security and road access as well as a higher standard booking hall, toilets and waiting area.
He also cast his eye over the nearby location of a scheme designed to tackle congestion at a notorious traffic bottleneck.
The A647 Bradford Road junction is being given a £3.4m overhaul to speed up vehicle flow. Revealing details of the upgrade as part of a package of transport measures last summer, Mr McLoughlin said: “This Government is taking action on both jobs and growth. The schemes we have announced are designed to target key bottlenecks around the country, making life easier for the thousands of motorists and businesses who use the local road network every day.”
Mr McLoughlin also did the honours yesterday at the official opening of Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough MP Stuart Andrew’s new office on Town Street, Horsforth.