It’s 30 years since my first letter calling for a Metro system in Leeds appeared in these columns. I suggested a regional system like the then recently opened Tyneside Metro coupled with a municipal supertram.
I still believe that this is the best system for West Yorkshire with two cross city rail tunnels intersecting at City Square helping to relieve passenger and train congestion at Leeds station.
It never crossed my mind back in 1983 that 30 years later Leeds would be the largest northern European city without a rail-based rapid transit system.
In that time numerous cities worldwide have developed metro networks.
Hence Rennes and Toulouse in France have their automatic driverless metros and cities in former East Germany such as Leipzig are opening cross city tunnels and fusing municipal trams and regional trains into a modern and completely electrified rail network.
Stuttgart, home to Mercedes and of a similar size to Leeds, has 15 miles of central area underground railway with 24 stations and Zurich sits at the heart of a regional express network which although smaller in scale compares well for convenience with the networks in London or Paris. Commonwealth cities such as Perth and Vancouver now also boast similar rapid transit systems.
Central government has now offered us the crumbs of NGT, the so-called modern trolleybus. While orbital trolleybus routes (such as Headingley to Harehills) might have a role to play in complementing a metro network NGT just doesn’t qualify as the core element of a radial system that a city of the size and status of Leeds deserves.
To be a top quality leading European city we need a metro system.
Shame our elected leaders and their highly paid advisers have such little ambition for our city that they refuse even to evaluate a proper metro network let alone campaign for one.
James Bovington, Leeds