Letter: NGT is only the third best option for Leeds

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Leeds ‘is a big vibrant city’ and there are lots of good things to rejoice about. Shame that improving public transport infrastructure isn’t one of them.

Hence in other cities worldwide, new developments such as the Arena and the new Trinity and Eastgate shopping centres would be served by an underground railway which could complement the proposed HS2 link.

A circular automatic metro (as in Lille) linking the centre with Leeds University and St James’s Hospital would be worth evaluation. Of course Leeds presently seems to settle for third best with NGT.

An ambitious but more justifiable scheme than a pure radial metro would be the construction of two cross city tunnels interchanging at City Square and which would allow regional trains from destinations such as Shipley and Selby, Harrogate and Bradford to serve new underground stations at major traffic objectives such as Eastgate or the west end of Wellington Street.

The innovation for Leeds would be to construct the central tunnels so that these could also be served by municipal trams giving an intensive local and regional service.

Despite my initial enthusiasm for a new station to serve HS2, it might be better to let the HS2 trains terminate at Leeds City Station and use the money saved to construct the east-west tunnel creating extra capacity through central Leeds with easy train to train interchange at Leeds Station as well as several other underground stations at key traffic objectives such as Eastgate and Westgate.

The HS2 scheme is unfortunately already becoming bogged down owing to the harm it is doing, even in the planning stage, to long-established communities to the south and east of Leeds.

Surely a route into Leeds can be planned which doesn’t involve destroying people’s livelihoods – perhaps a tunnel rather than a viaduct as has been offered to well-organised protestors in the Tory Chilterns?

It’s also difficult to see the need for a line from Woodlesford to Church Fenton – given that these trains aren’t planned to serve Leeds. Why not run Newcastle/York east coast trains direct to the first available HS2 station at Sheffield Meadowhall via an upgraded existing line via Rotherham?

However I remain committed to HS2 – this will free up existing lines to develop as a commuter network with, for example new stations on the Leeds to Doncaster and Sheffield lines, in effect giving two new lines for the price of one as commuter trains are separated from high-speed London and Paris trains.

James Bovington, Horsforth