Leeds trolleybus: New plans revealed

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TRANSPORT bosses have revealed details of the revised blueprint that they hope will win over Leeds’s trolleybus doubters.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has been given advance access to a 100-page, 30,000-word ‘statement of case’ that will be published in full online tomorrow.

It is one of a series of documents that have been prepared by trolleybus chiefs for the public inquiry that will decide the fate of their £250m scheme.

The documents set out more clearly than ever before how some journeys on the New Generation Transport (NGT) system would be nearly 40 per cent faster than those made by existing bus services.

They also reveal that the network would include a significantly greater amount of bus and cycle lane provision than previously thought.

Another section in the documents outlines how a £20m funding gap that has been hanging over the scheme would be filled by borrowing, to be paid back by operating revenues.

Other ideas in the updated paperwork include:

* The creation of a 3,500 sq m public park in Headingley;

* Environmental improvements to Hyde Park Corner and Monument Moor;

* Increased levels of planting to replace trees chopped down to make way for the system.

Jointly led by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire passenger transport authority Metro, NGT has come under fire from opponents who claim it offers poor value for money and would damage the environment and people’s quality of life.

Metro chairman Coun James Lewis today told the YEP: “There will be those who still oppose the scheme and, they will, quite rightly, have their chance to present evidence at the forthcoming public inquiry.

“However, the publication of this updated information shows just how far we have been able to move in the direction of meeting their concerns.”

The modifications do not affect the basic building blocks of NGT – its vehicles would still be powered electrically via overhead wires on a 14.8km system running between Holt Park in the north and Stourton in the south via the city centre.

What they are designed to do, however, is improve the scheme as a whole and deal with some of the objections raised to previous plans.

NGT was initially given the green light by the Department for Transport in 2012. However, the city still has to secure the Transport Works Act (TWA) Order that will give it permission to build and operate the system.

As is normal for transport projects on the scale of NGT, the Government will make a decision regarding the award of the TWA Order based on the findings of a public inquiry. The trolleybus inquiry is due to get under way in May this year, although a final verdict on the TWA Order might not be forthcoming until the middle of 2015. The new documents will be published tomorrow on the www.ngtmetro.com website.

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