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06.02.15

David Higgins to look at redevelopment options for Leeds station

Sir David Higgins is to review redevelopment options for Leeds station to prepare it for HS2, the chancellor has announced.

The chair of HS2 Ltd warned in a report last year that by the time HS2 arrives in the city, the existing Leeds station will have reached capacity, raising questions over where to house services using a proposed new East-West line nicknamed HS3.

The distance between the existing Leeds station – which is currently undergoing a £17.3m regeneration, with a new southern entrance to open soon – and the proposed HS2 station site at New Lane (see map below) has been highlighted as a “potential barrier”.

Leeds New Lane railway station location with markings  c. Michael Taylor, uploaded by
(Above: The proposed site of Leeds New Lane railway station. The black lines represent the tracks, the red line the pedestrian link to City Station and the grey box the approximate location of the station buildings and platforms. Open Street map for original, editing by Michael Taylor (information for editing taken from here -http://www.openstreetmap.org/)

The city council says: “The Leeds HS2 station should be sited in the city centre in such a position that it can be fully integrated with the classic rail network and other transport networks. A station at Leeds New Lane as announced by the secretary of state in January 2013 allows for a city centre HS2 station location in an area of the South Bank, which is considered to have the potential for regeneration, and integration both within the centre of Leeds and with the existing station.

“However, the distance between the two stations has been highlighted as a potential barrier to achieving seamless interchange and City Region connectivity to High Speed Rail.”

George Osborne has now put Sir David in charge of finding the solution to the problem. Speaking alongside David Cameron at an event in Leeds yesterday, Osborne said: “HS2, and now the planned HS3 across the Pennines, will revolutionise connections across the north of England. This in turn will deliver a major boost to the economies of our great Northern cities.

“And I want to make sure we seize every benefit from this once in a generation infrastructure project. We are going to do that right here in Leeds.

“Already one of the busiest railway stations in the country, with the arrival of high speed rail this city should be transformed.”

He added: “Today I can tell you I have asked Sir David Higgins to produce an interim report to present to me in the autumn.

“I want this report to explore the options for a major redevelopment of Leeds station for the arrival of high speed rail.”

The local authorities in the area said in a recent report: “West Yorkshire Combined Authority is currently working closely with HS2, Network Rail, Leeds City Council and Department for Transport on developing the proposition for the future Leeds station(s) to ensure that the city region is provided with a transport hub with best possible transport connectivity spanning high-speed, classic rail, local transport and optimised access. The proposed station should also be integrated into the fabric of its built environment in a way that will enable and attract new development and act as a catalyst for wider development and regeneration.”

David Higgins 2(Image: Sir David Higgins. Source: HS2 Ltd)

Speaking recently on front of the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, Higgins said: “If you’re planning a station in Manchester and in Leeds, you better at least think [whether] you ever want to upgrade east-west. When we asked that question, what became obvious is that Leeds station is at its capacity already, and if you [only] managed to squeeze in a few more platforms for a high-speed train service, but forget about the fact that there’s only a couple of trains an hour, with limited capacity, between Manchester and Leeds – and that should be trebled, and you could cut the service time down to something reasonable – how many people would actually commute between the two cities?”

Leeds City Council’s executive board voted in December to take a “a leading role in the Sir David Higgins Leeds station working group, in order to find the optimum solution for the arrival and integration of, HS2 and HS3 into Leeds City Centre, which supports both the growth of rail through the creation of a major rail interchange in Leeds City Centre, and meets our local connectivity, place making and regeneration ambitions.”

The council also said: “Whilst the council supports in principle the high speed rail proposals and has welcomed the project and the associated economic benefits as a whole, it also recognises that the proposed line of route has significant and in places unacceptable impacts on local communities which will undermine the economic and social benefits of HS2. The council will continue to press HS2 Ltd and the government on the mitigation of the line of route.

“Also, the review of an optimum station location in Leeds could impact on the HS2’s approach to Leeds and the subsequent route alignment if a different solution is taken forward.”

(Image source: Nigel Roddis/PA Wire)

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