Further investment calls as Leeds station entrance is opened

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LEEDS City Council leader Judith Blake called for ongoing investment in the city’s station as its new southern entrance was officially opened.

The gleaming £20 million structure built over the River Aire is expected to be used by 20,000 passengers a day and dramatically improve access from the south side of the station.

The inside of the new southern entrance at Leeds station

The inside of the new southern entrance at Leeds station

A dramatic extension is planned to cater for the new HS2 high speed services expected to arrive in 2032 but coun Blake said the city was pressing for more major improvements in the meantime.

She said: “Coming here, you really get the wow factor and that is what we have been asking for Leeds station because, to be frank, the contrast between getting on a train at King’s Cross where you have that wow factor and getting off at Leeds, they couldn’t be further apart.

“I think the momentum is with us, people are ambitious, and this is a boost for us but we are already in active conversations with Network Rail over improving the existing footprint of the stations and we look forward to getting funded schemes in place to enhance the experience of people using the station.”

Business leaders in Leeds have long complained the station gives visitors a poor first impression of the city.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones admitted there had been a “long term failure to invest” in railway stations such as Leeds but insisted the Government was committed to major transport improvements over the next four years.

He said the arrival of new companies operating the Northern and TransPennine rail franchises from April 1 would bring further benefits to Leeds passengers.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport committee chairman Keith Wakefield said improvements at Leeds had benefits for the wider region.

He said: “This is the biggest station in the North with 27 million people using it and if you are to become a transport hub then you need the infrastructure and the station that reflects that.

“This is the start of putting the pieces in the jigsaw to get the station ready for HS2.”