AMBITIOUS PLANS to create the biggest railway station in the North of England dubbed the Yorkshire Hub were unveiled today.
Previous proposals to build a new station south of the River Aire for high speed rail services arriving in Leeds were scrapped in favour of integrating the new lines into the existing station.
The move will involve building new platforms over the river and the transformation of the area south of the station in what will be one of the biggest urban regeneration projects in Europe.
The development was announced today as the Government sets out more details of the second phase of the HS2 high speed rail project as it extends north of Birmingham to Yorkshire and Manchester.
However, no firm decision was made over whether the proposed HS2 station in South Yorkshire will remain at Meadowhall, as originally planned, or be moved into the centre of Sheffield.
The new-look Leeds station will allow people to switch easily from HS2 services to existing local rail routes and proposed high speed transpennine services, known as HS3. Options are also being explored which would allow some HS2 services to continue through Leeds station to other destinations.
But the scale of the project will be presented as a broader opportunity to give a boost to the region’s economy by transforming part of Leeds city centre and creating a world-class transport hub for Yorkshire.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “This is a major project that will transform the station into a landmark gateway to welcome visitors and business travellers in the city and region.
“Redeveloping the station in Leeds alone will create 10,000 new jobs and we are determined that people in the city benefit from these opportunities.”
The change of plans is a victory for council figures including Coun Blake and West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport committee chairman Keith Wakefield as well as West Yorkshire business leaders who have pressed the case for a single station.
Coun Wakefield said: “Integrating the HS2 station with our existing station will provide a seamless interchange between high speed and classic rail services – and importantly, will allow through trains to enhance services to the city region and beyond.
“This will connect the major cities of Bradford, York and Wakefield, and significant towns such as Halifax, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Harrogate and Selby, into the national high-speed network.”
Earlier this year Chancellor George Osborne asked HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins to review the original plan for high speed services to stop at a new station, known as New Lane, on land near Asda House.
Critics had complained many of the benefits of high speed rail would be lost if passengers wanting to catch other trains had to walk from New Lane to the current station.
Support for HS2 in West and North Yorkshire also began to waiver as questions were raised over how much the wider region would benefit from a line coming to an abrupt halt in South Leeds.