Two Leeds councillors have written to the Yorkshire Evening Post explaining the reasons for pushing ahead with plans for a parkway station at Leeds Bradford Airport.
Council leader Judith Blake, executive member for transport Richard Lewis and Leeds Transport Expert Advisory Panel chair Nigel Foster sent the joint letter in response to debate surrounding the proposals.
In the letter, they have explained not only the reasons for supporting the parkway plans, but also why alternative schemes such as a station at the airport itself and a tram-train link have been rejected.
"In the last few days there has been some debate about the proposed Leeds Bradford Airport parkway station, part of the plans for £270million of transport investment in Leeds. We would like to explain why this is the best and most viable solution to meet a variety of needs and deliver benefits for Leeds and beyond.
Improving access for passengers to the airport is a priority, and will increase the airport’s contribution to the regional economy. A 2014 government feasibility study into a new rail station at the airport concluded it would cost up to £100m and identified significant engineering challenges. Tram-train has also been considered but would involve significant additional costs, a protracted approval process with no guarantee of success, and challenges to connect into the city’s transport network. Both of these options would take at least ten years to deliver. That’s too long to wait.
Our preferred option of a parkway station scores higher on three points: 1. it can be delivered at a much lower cost, estimated at £23m, making best use of the government money; 2. it can be delivered by the early 2020s – the people of Leeds told us they wanted improvements as quickly as possible; and 3. a parkway located on the existing Leeds-Harrogate line would double as a park-and-ride, reducing congestion.
With over 800,000 passengers forecast a year, the parkway has a much stronger business case than a station designed just for the airport, with an estimate of up to 400,000 passengers a year.
We are waiting for a decision from the Department for Transport on the proposals we announced before Christmas. If the proposals are approved we will consult widely on each of the schemes. Following consultation we will finalise the location of the Leeds Bradford Parkway and the link road, in the same way that other major transport infrastructure schemes are developed in the UK. At the same time we will continue to push for significant investment for an integrated mass transit scheme for Leeds and the city region."
Cllr Judith Blake: Leader of Leeds City Council
Cllr Richard Lewis: Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning
Nigel Foster: Chair of Leeds Transport Expert Advisory Panel