International company behind LA Airport transformation appointed to plan West Yorkshire mass transit system

An international company that has worked on projects ranging from improvements to Los Angeles International Airport to a public transport system in Kuala Lumpur has joined a project to build a new mass transit system in West Yorkshire.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:45 am
An artist's impression of the proposed development

The proposed multi billion pound system will link the towns and cities of West Yorkshire, and will include numerous new stations and links in Bradford, such as Holme Wood and Laisterdyke.

It is being developed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Today it was announced that Jacobs has been appointed as the lead consultant, on behalf of the McBains consortium, for the Design and Placemaking Development Partner commission for the scheme.

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The company has over 50,000 employees across the world.

A statement from the company said: “With a population of 2.3 million and an economy of nearly £70 billion, West Yorkshire remains the largest metropolitan area in Europe without an urban transit system.

“The McBains Consortium will support the Combined Authority in turning its Mass Transit vision into future-made designs that better connect West Yorkshire’s most important places, help combat climate change, support a green and inclusive recovery, and improve health and wellbeing for residents as part of re-balancing of the U.K. economy.

“Jacobs’ work as development partner on this transformational program will focus on ensuring feasible options are developed on all corridors to unlock the full scale of benefits such a system can bring to the region.”

The development, which is yet to receive funding and is currently out to public consultation, would be carried out in stages. The early stages of the scheme would include a line between Dewsbury and Bradford, and another linking Bradford and Leeds.

Further stages could link Bradford to Halifax via a stop in Queensbury, and a line from Bradford to Otley and Leeds Bradford Airport, including stops at Baildon, Shipley Guiseley and Menston.

It is hoped the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal would help access funding, and that construction could start in the mid 2020s.

Jacobs People & Places Solutions Senior Vice President Europe Donald Morrison said: “Our approach is focused around integrated, zero-carbon and place-based solutions that will not only benefit West Yorkshire, but also ensure that Mass Transit acts as a key enabler to unlock the regeneration and inclusive growth potential across the region as part of the Combined Authority’s overall Connectivity Plan.

“It provides a unique opportunity to draw on U.K., continental European and international best practice to deliver an advanced, innovative system that West Yorkshire and its residents can be proud of.”

Jacobs role will be to “develop the design philosophy, place-making strategy and technical options feasibility work for all corridors on the network – focusing on deliverability and designs around key network hotspots and the proposed form of mass transit in each corridor.”

Head of Mass Transit at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Tom Gifford said: “This is an important commission for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, especially as we continue to seek feedback around the West Yorkshire Mass Transit 2040 vision through the ongoing engagement on the West Yorkshire Connectivity Plan.”

The company has been involved in a number of major transport schemes across the world, from designing California High Speed Rail, the Klang Valley mass rapid transit system in Kuala Lumpur, new connections in New York’s Grand Central Station and the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport in New York.

On Monday the Combined Authority’s Bradford District Consultation Sub-Committee, made up of Councillors and public transport users, were given an update on the proposals.

They were told the systems would provide the “missing link” between areas of Bradford. And there would also be a stop at the new city centre Northern Powerhouse Rail link.

Mr Gifford said the consultation was asking the public if they felt the plans had identified the right places that needed new links.

He said: “It hasn’t got into exact route options, as we need to make sure we are looking in the right places. We don’t want development work only for people to say we’re looking in the wrong places. We want to understand the local priorities for Bradford."

He said the authority was looking at four possible types of technology for the system – advanced bus rapid transit similar to routes in Belfast, light rail/tram similar to a system in Birmingham and Dublin, a tram-train system similar to that used in Sheffield and an ultra light rail system yet to be introduced in any UK cities.

People can see the plans by visiting westyorks-ca.gov.uk/connectivity/.