BRITAIN’s Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a study to consider options for operating HS2 trains to Leeds while also committing to reassess proposed improvements to rail connections to Bradford.
The DfT says the Leeds Study delivers on a commitment made in the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), announced in November 2021, in which the government scrapped the planned eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds.
The study will assess capacity at Leeds station and consider local views as well as factors such as disruption linked with the various options under consideration both to passengers and economic development. It will also look at the wider economic benefits, value for money, affordability, deliverability, and project time scales.
The study is expected to be completed in 2025 and is described by rail minister, Mr Huw Merriman, as “extensive.”
Technical work on the study will be led by infrastructure manager Network Rail with support where needed from HS2 Ltd. The DfT says the study will build on work done within IRP on the strategic alternatives for the eastern leg of HS2. At Leeds station it will consider options for adding new platforms as well as the impact on dwell times and the station’s timetable. The study will also consider the implications of running HS2 trains on the wider network, including capacity at Sheffield station.
The government says it remains committed to the pledge within the IRP to upgrading and electrifying the line between Bradford Interchange and Leeds, which could deliver a 12-minute journey time between the two northern cities within the next decade. The DfT says it will reassess evidence to improve connectivity in Bradford, including examining the case for a new station.
Merriman confirmed that the DfT accepts the recommendation of the Transport Select Committee to reconsider the case to develop St James’s Market station in the city.
“The government stands by the conclusions of the Integrated Rail Plan on Bradford, and the benefits that plan brings to the city,” Merriman says. “However, in light of this recommendation, a reassessment of the evidence for better connecting Bradford and the case for a new station will now form part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail development programme and the HS2 to Leeds Study.”
The government will also provide £40m to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to support development of a “mass transit system” for Leeds.
“It is 18 months since the plans to take the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds were stalled, and it will now be at least another 18 more months until we have new options to bring high-speed rail to Yorkshire,” says a spokesperson for the High Speed Rail Group. “We urge the DfT to do all it can to ensure this new review is decisive and then acted upon so that the current state of limbo drags on no longer.”
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