The recent presentation on this newspaper’s online edition of 11 major building projects set both to change the Leeds skyline and greatly expand the city centre to east, west and south is further justification that Leeds needs a central area underground rail system which could be used by both regional trains and a municipal tram network and fed by a network of high frequency battery-powered buses.
Coupled with road network improvements the underground would bring economic, social, cultural and above all environmental benefits to Leeds by enhancing local and regional rail access to and within Leeds Centre.
The tunnel would be constructed from east of a reopened Armley Canal Road Station to Richmond Hill Eastfield Street.
Six kilometres long and built like a transverse wave with five underground stations (Westgate/Wellington Street, Millennium Square, City Square, Southbank and Eastgate) a twin bore tunnel creates extra capacity at Leeds Station with an integrated City Square underground station.
There’s also a possible case for extending the tunnel to St James’s Hospital as a terminus for trains originating west of Leeds.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (YEP November 12) states the obvious that good transport links are an effective catalyst of economic growth.
However, both he and many of our local politicians apparently want to concentrate investment on linking West Yorkshire to other parts of the country.
If the aim is to make England more equal and balanced then an excellent way to do this would be to electrify the majority of the regional rail network building new links as needed such as a 21st century Yorkshire Lancashire direct rail link from Bradford to Manchester via Huddersfield and electrification of the Midland Mainline between Sheffield and Bedford.
Leeds boasts its ambition to be the best UK provincial city by 2030. It will always be hard for us to beat Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow but emulating their central area rail tunnels with a Leeds CrossRail as the spine or core of the city’s electrified network could promote us to public transport’s Premier League.
Manchester plans such a tunnel for 2040. Which Leeds politician shares my ambition?
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.