Recent studies have shown that only fundamental improvements to the local rail network will enable cities like Leeds to get the most out of the massive investment that is HS2.
Removing long distance trains from inner suburban routes would allow these to develop into municipal Metro systems, with HS2 then effectively creating ‘three railways for the price of one’, as new intercity capacity and regional electrified suburban trains complement this municipal Metro system.
The massive cost of constructing a new station at New Lane could be avoided if the present Leeds Station were converted into the city’s HS2 station.
The bulk of the local Leeds suburban network could then be transferred to an east-west Crossrail tunnel with new central underground stations at Leeds Eastgate, Leeds City Square (for HS2) and Leeds Westgate/Wellington Street.
Assuming willingness to overcome bureaucratic hurdles, funding released from avoiding building New Lane could then go towards these new central tunnels.
While the HS2 journey time might be a couple of minutes longer, most users would make much greater time savings by not having to walk to the inconveniently sited and expensive New Lane station.
Going underground would permit trains to serve major passenger destinations such as the new Victoria Gate shopping centre directly rather than following more slowly a dated street pattern.
It would also allow future municipal trams to share tracks with regional trains. Hence it should attract substantially more passengers than the third rate and increasingly despised NGT trolleybus.
A chord allowing trains from York and further north to access Leeds station via the HS2 spur would release capacity on the east Leeds lines to allow for frequent Metro services between Leeds and Garforth, with the Wetherby line reopened and eventually connected via Harrogate to a reopened line to Ripon, as far-sighted local campaigners have recently been demanding.
If they have any understanding at all of the potential for HS2 to bring about a local rail revolution then our local councillors will be examining how a twin tunnel Crossrail scheme, centred on a revamped Leeds Station with an underground interchange at City Square, can be brought about.
The beauty of this scheme is that the north-south line – possibly connecting Harrogate trains to those serving the Five Towns – would allow for a Metro station to serve the new developments on the south bank of the Aire on a daily basis, rather then just when journeys to London are needed.
This plan makes the most of HS2 while promoting a Metro system for the Leeds City Region.
Which is probably why the visionless Councillor James Lewis will refuse to consider it.
James Bovington, Horsforth
Not impressed with Holt Park
WITH REFERENCE to the Leeds survey on the subject of sport and culture (YEP, October 24) and in response to the article regarding Holt Park Leisure Centre, all I can say is God help us if it is used as a blueprint for other leisure centres.
I went for a swim at the centre shortly after it opened and I have not been back since.
As a disabled person I found the facilities a disaster. To start with the changing rooms were mixed-sex so I had to cram into a tiny cubicle to get changed.
After my swim I could not have a proper shower as they were also mixed-sex.
Perhaps Councillor Adam Ogilvie should have spoken to disabled people before the building was designed.
It cost the taxpayer £28m (plus PFI interest) and not even separate showers and changing rooms!
I thought the whole point of a leisure centre was to engage in physical recreation not to “feel part of what’s going on in the area”. Martin Phillips, Cookridge
Better life out of European Union
DAVID CAMERON says we may have to pay this money to the EU as we may not get a rebate.
We don’t want a rebate. We would like to be out of the EU altogether and also free of the human rights laws.
People are sick and tired of criminals coming to the country and living off the state.
We pay £56m a day to Europe while we have got food banks becoming more and more common.
We also pay billions in foreign aid for other countries. What about this country?
We are becoming a third world country, with the hardship and the growth in food banks. What a disgrace.
It is time to get real Mr Cameron and get out of the EU and give this country a better standard of living.
Roger Watkinson, Halton
Trolleybus flies in face of sense
I read with interest your article on the cost of the public inquiry into the trolleybus, and how this expense is inevitably shrugged aside by those who imposed it on us.
If the inquiry has lasted so long, it is not merely because there have been so many objectors, but because we have had to listen at length to a great deal of often-irrelevant and often shoddily-produced evidence from NGT and its consultants.
Several times, for instance, we have been told about problems on “Headingley Road”, an address that you will not find in the Leeds phone book.
It has notably taken close-questioning from the QC for First Bus and from an emeritus professor of transport studies to expose for all to see just how badly the case for NGT had been prepared; how the scheme flies in the face of common sense, with no real proper consultation with the public.
We were to have no record of the proceedings, as NGT said they could not afford to record them.
Luckily, one objector has recorded them, and the recordings are there to show just how poorly NGT has performed.
All the citizens of Leeds should listen to them (see cosmicclaire.blogspot.co.uk).
It is our money that our council and Metro have spent so recklessly.
Christopher Todd, Headingley
Ask the peple what they think
I was reading the views expressed by Oliver Cross (No time for knee-jerk reaction over EU relations, YEP October 24), and his lack of insight and connection to working class people is astounding!
He is probably right to assume that David Cameron has no intention of pushing this issue of free movement too far.
But to then say that such illustrious organisations as the Confederation of British Industry and the National Farmers’ Union would be displeased shows exactly where Mr Cross’ loyalty and concern lies – firmly with the only people who prosper from cheap European labour.
Never mind the millions already out of work, or the pressure on wages that unlimited migration is applying.
Never mind the lack of social housing, the gaping hole in the NHS or the pay freeze that most of us have had to endure for quite some years while household bills increase constantly.
And of course let’s not forget the 13 children due to start school in Middleton this September that couldn’t even find a place.
We could even talk about the extra £1.7bn that the EU has ordered us to pay because our economy is doing better now – not that anyone I know is feeling the benefit.
If you want to know about the “anti-EU clamour” then just visit almost any council estate in the North of England and ask the people who live there what they think. I don’t suppose you will though.
Craig Sweaton, chairman, Ukip West Leeds and Pudsey branch, Middleton