Leeds mass transit system takes another step forward

Queens Hotel, Leeds

West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which is developing proposals for an advanced mass transit system for the Leeds City Region, said it is now seeking “ideas and experience from across the world” for the plans.

With a population of three million people and an economy of £69.6 billion GVA, the Leeds City Region remains the largest metropolitan area in Europe without an urban transit system.

Working with experts at the University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Railway Research and University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies, the Combined Authority said it now wants to hear from companies and consortia across the globe about the latest techniques and technologies that could help meet the City Region’s future transport needs.

The Combined Authority aims to develop initial designs for an advanced urban transit system that can be delivered by 2033 and which ensures the whole of the Leeds City Region can benefit from major infrastructure investment including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“Organisations and individuals responding to the market testing are being asked to consider a system with end-to-end routes of between 10 and 30km, with frequent city centre stops and stops every kilometre or so in other areas,” said the Combined Authority.

“Routes, they are being told, could run through pedestrian and heritage environments in city centres and urban areas.

“Vehicles are expected to enable 200 to 300 people to get on/off at every stop and could be traditional light rail or tram train running on steel wheels, or bus rapid transit-based running on rubber tyres.

“They are expected to have an operational life of 20 to 30 years.

“Among the respondents from which West Yorkshire Combined Authority hopes to hear are providers, promoters and operators of existing urban transit systems, industry suppliers, technology providers, system developers and urban transport vehicle and infrastructure manufacturers of from across the world.

“World-wide bus companies, including those already operating within West Yorkshire, academia and research institutions, city planners, engineering and construction companies and consultancies are also being invited to take part.”

Cllr Kim Groves, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “The Leeds City Region economy is forecast to grow rapidly in the coming years, creating thousands of new jobs.

“There is no doubt that if the Leeds City Region is going to achieve its full economic potential while at the same time meeting the ambitious environmental goals we have set ourselves, we need a modern mass transit system to connect people quickly and cleanly with areas of growth.

“By undertaking this market testing with the Universities of Huddersfield and Leeds, we want to ensure that whatever form our mass transit system takes it reflects the most modern ideas, technologies and techniques in the world and enables the City Region to remain at the forefront of those technologies for many years to come.

“The Prime Minister has acknowledged our need for a rapid mass transit system and we look forward to hearing from him on how his government intends to support us in developing one.

“In addition to political support, this market testing process will secure the input of industry leaders and innovators to help us deliver a ground-breaking network from which people in all our towns, cities and communities can benefit.”

A prospectus and details of the market testing process are available at www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/urban-transit