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‘Transport network must be improved for HS2 rail link’
Investment in infrastructure is vital if the district’s road and rail network is to be “HS2-ready” in time for the new London-Leeds rail link opening.
The leader of Bradford Council welcomed the Government’s announcement about its preferred route for the second stage of the high-speed rail network, which is expected to be running by 2033.
But Bradford Council leader David Green reiterated that it was now key that electrification commitments were maintained and that the funding was put in place to support local and regional infrastructure requirements.
His comments come as it was revealed that the location for a new station in central Leeds is to be in the South Bank area of the city centre. It would be joined to the existing station by a dedicated pedestrian link and moving walkways.
The service is intended to cut journey times from Leeds to London by 50 minutes to one hour 22 minutes.
He said: “The announcement makes it more important than ever that we get a commitment for the start of the electrification of the Caldervale line and also to look at the improvements to the direct links north and south from Bradford.
“Clearly there will be some regional benefits which are to be welcomed and people and businesses need to be thinking ahead as to how we can benefit from these.
“But in the meantime, we have got to have the local and regional infrastructure in place to make sure we can all benefit.”
Other leaders from across the city region also called for funding for infrastructure to be of top priority.
Leeds Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield said: “The proposed station offers a unique opportunity to create a striking new gateway into the city centre, but will only work if the interchange links directly into Leeds station and comes with a significant Government package of investment in its infrastructure, road and rail links to the rest of the city region area.”
“We have lobbied long and hard for a high-speed rail link to Leeds. It will strengthen Leeds’s position as the northern transport hub and unlock major investment, job opportunities and connectivity to the rest of the country.”
Metro chairman Councillor James Lewis added that it was a huge boost to the local economy. “But for the full potential of HS2 to be felt in Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield and the whole city region as well as Leeds itself, we need to ensure that by the time high-speed trains start arriving we have a local transport network that is HS2-ready.
“We want to see this announcement followed up by a commitment from HS2 Ltd to invest in the existing rail network and unlock the £12 billion of benefits identified in the Yorkshire Rail Network Study.”
Leeds City Region LEP chairman Neil McLean said: “In order to ensure that this investment makes a real difference to our economy, it needs to be supported by rail and road enhancements that will aim to improve connectivity between our cities and towns and we need it delivering as a priority.”
The construction of the full y-shaped network is expected to cost £33.1 billion, and the Government’s preferred options for phase two are estimated to be around £16.8 billion.
The Government plans to hold a public consultation on the routes, stations and depots for phase two later this year.