West Yorkshire mass transit and 2040 transport vision map

UK: ‘Emerging plans’ for a network of light rail or bus rapid transit services are included in the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan and Mass Transit Vision 2040 published by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The documents also set out the role of railway electrification and major projects including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Transpennine Route Upgrade in delivering an integrated transport system for West Yorkshire, with a minimum of two trains/h at every station as well as improved inter-city connections.

‘These proposals set out how our existing plans to invest, our future ambitions and major infrastructure projects come together to deliver the clean, integrated transport system we need to connect our communities to each other and beyond’, said Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and WYCA Transport Lead on January 27.

Mass transit system

‘A new mass transit system for West Yorkshire will be a key of our transport system, linking our communities with a quick and reliable service and integrated with bus, rail, walking and cycling’, said Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the WYCA Transport Committee. ‘This will represent a bold investment; a transformational transport system that will benefit many generations to come.’

The report sets out very preliminary concepts, with potential options including the use of bus rapid transit, light rail, tram-train and ultra-light rail technologies.

West Yorkshire Mass transit map

The mass transit network would have its own brand and identity, and would be used to provide fast, high-capacity and direct links between centres of employment, new housing and park-and-ride sites. It would provide connections with local rail services, which would be used for longer-distance trips.

A market study in 2019 concluded that it would be best to ‘innovate within proven technologies’ rather than ‘reinvent the wheel’, and that the development of battery technology means it is ‘realistic’ to plan for a zero-emission system without overhead wires.

Plans are at an early stage, and it is envisaged that construction of Phase 1 could start by the mid-2020s for opening by the end of the decade.

Candidate corridors for Phase 1 are eastwards from Leeds to Thorpe Park with a branch to an East Leeds park-and-ride site; west from Leeds to provide local travel options in the corridor through Pudsey to Bradford city centre and Foster Square station; and from Bradford to Leeds via Dewsbury.

Phase 2 would follow as Phase 1 was completed, and then Phase 3 in the early 2030s.

The report recognises that the network ‘is likely to be expensive to construct’, but would offer ‘substantial benefits’.

Its time has come

Feedback on the strategy documents is sought by April 11.

‘For too long, our region has lagged behind others in the UK in transport terms and, looking to European cities, we are decades behind’, said Nick Garthwaite, Chair of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. ‘We need to be ambitious and commit to schemes that enhance connectivity, deliver confidence, yet also contribute to carbon emission reductions.’

He said ‘a genuinely deliverable mass rapid transit system is long overdue for West Yorkshire — we hope that its time has now come.’