THE government today finally green-lit a long-delayed £250m electric trolleybus system for Leeds.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said the service - the UK’s first modern electric trolleybus system - would generate up to 4,000 new jobs.
Commuters from Holt Park in the north of the city to Stourton in the south will be able to travel into work on a network of modern, electrically-driven buses powered by a network of overhead cables. The system is modelled on those in Athens and Lyon.
Trolleybuses are powered by electric overhead cables but do not require rails in the road.
The Department of Transport will supply up to £173.5 million of the funding with the remainder coming from local authorities. Work is expected to start on the new system in 2016 with the trolleybus fully operational in 2018.
Ms Greening said: “Leeds will have new state-of-the-art trolleybuses that will be faster, more reliable and greener than their predecessors. They will make public transport in Leeds more accessible and attractive than ever before and I know trolleybuses will be transformational for growth and jobs in West Yorkshire.
“Investment on this scale in precisely this kind of infrastructure is a recognition of how crucial Leeds and Yorkshire are to the long-term success of the British economy.”
The announcement that the scheme, which has been under review since the general election, would now go ahead, was also welcomed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who was in Leeds today to launch the government’s “City Deals” initiative that will see selected cities claw back some powers from Whitehall.
Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and economy said: “This is a huge injection of cash to the city region, which will finally enable us to deliver a high-quality rapid transit network that is essential for a city of Leeds’ calibre. It will mean that Leeds becomes the first city in the UK to join the growing number of cities across Europe adopting this technology.”
Trolleybuses were first introduced in 1911 - again in Leeds - and the last ones were taken out of service in Bradford, in 1972.
The government has also given the go-ahead for two new railway stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge on the outskirts of Leeds, and for a “Quality Bus Corridor” on the A65 Kirkstall Road, as well as a new southern pedestrian entrance to the city’s main railway station.