A new railway station for Leeds and six priority bus routes are on West Yorkshire transport bosses' half-a-billion-pound wishlist to Grant Shapps

Transport bosses in West Yorkshire have submitted a bid to Ministers for hundreds of millions of pounds of funding to pay for improvements including a new railway station in Leeds, two new bus park and rides, six priority bus routes and 800 new cycle parking spaces.

By Rob Parsons
Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 11:13 am

The Leeds City Region bid to the Department for Transport is asking for just under half a billion pounds worth of improvements through the Transforming Cities Fund, which was first announced under the Theresa May government in 2017.

It was submitted to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on November 28 but has only been revealed now the General Election 'purdah' period is over.

The total value of the fund is now £2.45 billion, but half is reserved for the areas of the country with fully-implemented devolution deals, meaning the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Sheffield City Region have to bid for the remainder. The Government is expected to announce the results of the funding bid in March next year.

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Kim Groves, who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's transport committee

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According to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, its funding bid if successful will result in over 1,100 new jobs being created, £1 billion being added to the local economy and a reduction of up to 15,000 tons of CO2 emissions from transport by 2036.

Transport bosses claim better access to rail stations, bus priority along key transport corridors and improved facilities will mean 33 million rail journeys a year made easier for local passengers, more than eight million additional journeys on West Yorkshire’s buses and 12 million fewer car trips across the city region, which takes in West Yorkshire and the surrounding districts.

Among the schemes included in the bid are:

- Major works to the front of Leeds rail station will improve access for people travelling to the station by foot or on bike, including a 700-space secure cycle parking facility. Improvements to the Leeds rail station will also prepare the city for the arrival of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail routes.

- A new rail station at the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds will increase capacity to accommodate future employment growth, support access to key employment and retail centres and provide an interchange between bus and rail services. The communities of Churwell, Millshaw and Cottingley will have greater access to jobs and education opportunities through these improvements

- New, high-quality cycle infrastructure will link communities on the periphery of the city centre, enabling more people to access jobs in central and new jobs and colleges in Leeds South Bank by bike.

- Bus priority in east Leeds, which will improve capacity for commuters travelling from the east of the city region to the city centre and will also reduce congestion and improve service reliability for residents and commuters.

- Skipton rail station and bus station in Craven district will have better connections for people walking and travelling by bicycle and there would also be enhance cycling and walking routes linking with Skipton Academy, Craven College and employment areas.

- Access to Harrogate rail and bus stations will be improved by the creation of a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Also, new cycling and walking routes will provide improved access across and to the town centre and better links to healthcare and employment opportunities to the north of the town. A new, high-quality segregated cycle route to Knaresborough will provide better connectivity to Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough rail stations.

- In Kirklees, a refurbishment of Huddersfield bus station and an upgrade of the town’s rail station will improve public transport access and new routes would mean better links for people who walk and cycle. Access to Dewsbury town centre will be transformed by a new bus station and high-quality walking and cycling routes to the town centre and Kirklees College. These improvements will also support the delivery of the TransPennine Route Upgrade.

- Bus users in Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike will benefit from new bus hubs and there will be improvements to bus reliability and cycling and walking routes on the A638 between Dewsbury and Bradford on the A638 and from Batley towards Leeds on the A653.

- A new, high-quality segregated cycle route will link Huddersfield town centre and East Huddersfield.

- With a new plaza and bus interchange, Selby rail station will be at the heart of developing new housing and employment as a result of new cycling and walking routes to the town centre. A new footbridge will also provide direct access to future employment opportunities at the town’s Olympia Park site.

- Wakefield city centre will be transformed and traffic in the Northern and Civic Quarters reduced. There will be new and enhanced cycle links including a new cycle route between Wakefield Kirkgate and the city centre as well as improved pedestrian access from the bus station.

- New bus priority and cycling and walking infrastructure on the A61 and A639 corridors will complement these measures and improve sustainable travel between Leeds and Wakefield.

- Sustainable access to York’s rail station will be transformed by a reconfiguration of the area in front of it to improve capacity for pedestrians and cyclists and to create an improved bus and taxi interchange. There will also be new cycling and walking routes between the station and the city centre. These improvements will also support the York Central development site behind the station, which includes 90,000m2 of commercial space and 2,500 new homes.

Leaders are also asking for £20m to continue work on finding a mass transit solution for the region, with Leeds the biggest city in Western Europe not to have such a system.

And a bid has been submitted for £23m to stop the collapse of the Queensbury Tunnel between Bradford and Halifax and allow it to be turned into Europe's longest underground cycleway.

Kim Groves, who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “Clean, sustainable public transport, walking and cycling are the focus of the Leeds City Region Transforming Cities Fund bid.

“The schemes in the Bid are in line with our Transport Strategy and will complement the significant investment we are already making through the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund and the Connecting Leeds programme as well as our emerging plans for mass transit.

“Our Transforming Cities Fund bid aims to engender a transformational change in behaviour, by providing people across West Yorkshire and the City Region with opportunities to make reliable, safe and attractive journeys by using public transport and by walking and cycling.

“We have taken a holistic approach to putting this Transforming Cities Fund bid together to ensure the measures it contains will deliver significant benefits for as many people as possible across the City Region.”

Susan Hinchcliffe, who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “Through this ambitious City Region Transforming Cities Fund bid we are setting out how we plan to improve people’s access to employment, education and training and our businesses’ ability to grow, invest with access to a valuable and skilled local workforce."