A NEW railway station in east Leeds is vital to the future success of a major new development which could bring 10,000 jobs to the city, politicians said today.
However it is also feared that the Government’s recent halting of rail electrification plans in the North could have temporarily put the kybosh on those ambitions.
The YEP has reported previously that a trio of proposals for new office, retail and leisure facilities at Thorpe Park are expected to give the city a massive economic boost.
The proposals form part of the broader East Leeds Extension masterplan, a sprawling vision which could also see up to 6,000 new houses built in the surrounding area.
Plans for a £100m dual-carriageway orbital road already form part of the transport infrastructure plans, as do bus service improvements and a park and ride.
But calls are growing for a new rail hub at Thorpe Park to really put the project on the political and economic map.
Talks are already under way with Network Rail, with an initial feasibility study identifying Thorpe Park as one of a number of possible new rail hubs in the North.
However now politicians are set to lobby the Government further to make the vision a reality.
Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East, said: “A rail stop encouraging access to jobs at Thorpe Park has got my 100 per cent backing and I’ll be calling on the Conservative Government to fund this project.
“They’ve let us down on rail electrification in our region. I hope they don’t let us down on this.”
Coun Peter Gruen, who represents Cross Gates and Whinmoor and also sits on the influential City Plans Panel, said the idea makes “absolute common sense” but the issue now is taking it “from the drawing board to a practical way of taking it forward”. He added: “The more we can shift onto rail the better”.
And councillor Stuart McKenna, speaking at a meeting of the council’s City Development panel, said he is really looking forward to the Thorpe Park development but commented that the current bus services to the area are “really pretty poor” .
He said there will be lots of people working in the Thorpe Park development eventually, and a rail link would be the best way to accommodate for their commute.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are working with the local authority on the possibility of a station at Thorpe Park.”
A West Yorkshire Combined Authority spokesperson added: “West Yorkshire Combined Authority has reviewed the potential for new stations across the City Region and has prioritised four locations, Haxby, Crosshills, Elland and a parkway station to the east of Leeds, potentially at Thorpe Park.
“Further work is underway with the DfT and Network Rail to consider implementation timescales in the context of related improvements, including the currently-paused trans-Pennine electrification.”
A recent feasibility study conducted by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority concluded that there was a “strong case” for a new station in east Leeds, with Thorpe Park being a possible location.
The study found that “the case for a station at Thorpe Park is heavily dependent upon the full development and take-up of planned employment sites in the Thorpe Park development and the ability for the station to serve as a strategic park and ride site given its close proximity to the M1”.