Today’s (18 November 2021) heavily leaked announcement that the HS2 high speed rail line will not be built to Leeds has big implications, good and bad, for South Leeds.
The latest version of the HS2 plans had the new railway entering the city through Stourton and Hunslet on a viaduct and arriving at a new station on the south bank of the River Aire stretching from Asda House to Crown Point Retail Park. These plans will not now go ahead and the related jobs in construction and businesses in the station complex won’t be created.
In its Integrated Rail Plan, the Government, acknowledging that Leeds has missed out on major transport infrastructure yet again has said it will fund a West Yorkshire Mass Transit System. It has committed £200 million to plan and start work on the scheme which could include trams or light rail. Early plans, reported here, indicated lines running from the city centre through Beeston and through Hunslet – Belle Isle – Middleton to Tingley.
Both Leeds City Council and Transport For The North were very disappointed by today’s announcement. Council Leader Cllr James Lewis said:
“After more than 10 years of effort, investment and planning based on the government’s clear proposal to bring HS2 to Leeds, we have been left extremely disappointed and frustrated by today’s announcement which only offers more studies, reviews and uncertainty for high-speed connections to our city – but, sadly, we are not surprised.”
He went on to say that the existing station is coping with record numbers of passengers; that there is no scope for extra services to run on the existing lines running into Leeds from the west and called for an overhaul of national transport decision making. He concluded:
“We remain determined to make sure that this is the last time a major project benefiting Leeds is cancelled.”
You can read his full statement by clicking here.
Cllr Louise Gittens, Interim Chair of Transport for the North commented
“Today’s announcement is woefully inadequate. After decades of underfunding, the rail network in the North is not fit for purpose. It is largely twin-track Victorian infrastructure trying to cope with the demands of a 21st Century economy. Leaders from across the North and from across the party political divide came together to ask for a network that would upgrade the North for this century and in line with the rest of the country. Our statutory advice asked for an over £40 billion network but the Government has decided to provide even less than half of that.”