Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Transport 2000 West Yorkshire Group (RT 14)


  A detailed study has been carried out by our group in which we have looked at all schemes, over the last 25 years in all of Britain's Metropolitan cities, to open new stations and railway lines. As you will see from the survey Leeds has been ignored and denied funds to develop a proper rail system for the city. The investment figures (at 1998 prices) for new stations and systems over the past 25 years in London £2,268 million, Newcastle £518 million, Manchester £297 million, Sheffield £272 million, Glasgow £239 million, Birmingham £197 million, Liverpool £147 million and Leeds £4 million (yes £4 million—not a mistake).

  It is helpful to look at the history of rail in Leeds. At its peak in 1904 Leeds had over 40 surburban railway stations within its present boundaries. Most of these were closed during the "Beeching" era when Leeds railways were savagely cut back, much more than other cities, so that by 1965 the city had only nine surburban stations. Leeds also had one of the finest tramway systems in the country before being abandoned in 1959. Until then it was ahead of most cities with many miles of reserved tramways. Many of these formations are still intact and intended to be re-used for the proposed Leeds Supertram.

  Since then Leeds has received massive investment in new roads. In the 1960s and 1970s Leeds had a special relationship with the Department of Transport, called the "Leeds Approach". This dismissed the case for using rail and advocated total dependence on roads promoting the private car and buses. All the other Metropolitan cities at this time were considering rail transit schemes.

  Some changes for the better came with the arrival of WYPTE and more open minded policies. A new station programme saw the opening of four new railway stations in Leeds between 1983 and 1988. WYPTE proposed an East Leeds LRT scheme in 1987 but this was opposed by Leeds City Council and subsequently abandoned. Leeds City Council then proposed its own elevated LRT scheme but environmental objections resulted in it meeting the same fate.

  WYPTE and Leeds City Council then joined forces and decided upon a full public consultation which resulted in the Leeds Transport Strategy. This consisted of a balanced transport plan for Leeds including all forms of transport. The main part of this was a modern tramway for Leeds of which Line 1 was authorised by Parliament as the 1993 Leeds Supertram Act.

  The previous Government encouraged the major cities to prepare suitable LRT schemes. The Leeds Supertram met the criteria, was part of an overall transport strategy resulting from public consultation and was in the queue awaiting funding. The present Government arrived on a promise to give greater priority to public transport as part of an integrated transport policy.

  Unfortunately the old Department of Transport bias appears to have surfaced again. Leeds has not only been denied funds for Supertram but the DETR is actively trying to kill the project. It has suggested that buses should do the job instead. This is in complete contrast to the Government attitude to other cities. For instance while actively discouraging Leeds not to proceed with Supertram it awards Nottingham £167 million for LRT and the Secretary of State approves the Sunderland extension of the Tyne & Wear Metro. In fact Leeds has a much stronger claim than Nottingham if these matters were decided on merit. Leeds has over twice the population, is a Metropolitan city and the scheme is superior to that of Nottingham's which duplicates an existing railway and has to rob track from the Robin Hood line.

  Other cities are planning LRT and extensions. Why has Leeds been singled out for such unfair treatment? It appears to be one rule for other cities, a different one for Leeds. We appreciate the Government cannot fund all major rail schemes at once but in view of the lack of support in the past Leeds should now have top priority if the Government is to be fair.

  With regard to the Leeds Supertram it should be noted that there are higher costs with an initial system because items such as depots and spare rolling stock have to be ordered. Once the first phase is in place extensions can be achieved much more modestly. Therefore Leeds is always going to be at a disadvantage until a start is made.

  We therefore ask your help to support the case of Leeds for fair play and adequate investment for rail developments. Leeds people, unlike every other Metro city, are being denied access to quality rail services. We pay the same rates of taxes as other cities and should be treated fairly in turn.

Alan Haigh,
Chairman, Rail & Light Rail Group

Transport 2000—West Yorkshire


  We have done a study examining all the schemes to extend rail facilities, ie new stations and lines, in Britain's major cities over the past 25 years.

  This study shows conclusively that Leeds has been treated very unfairly and its case ignored in the allocation of funds for major rail transit facilities. While Leeds has fared as well as others in the provision of longer distance rail services this is not so for the more numerous travel movements within the urban city area. As a result the people of Leeds have poor access to the rail network with only 13 suburban railway stations giving the city very poor quality public transport which is too dependent on road transport resulting in additional congestion and poor air quality.

  The investment in new rail stations and lines in Britain's Metropolitan cities over the past 25 years is as follows:

Investment at 1998 prices


  A breakdown of the survey results is shown as Appendix 1. Appendix 2 details a Rail Plan for Leeds and Appendix 3 shows the history of rail projects in Leeds.

  As a result Leeds has fallen behind other cities and is now bottom of the league for quality public transport. Massive property development continues in Leeds but the city is not allowed the funds to put in place the transport infrastructure to match. The implementation of the proposals in Appendix 2 would give Leeds urban rail facilities comparable with the other cities.

  A rail development plan is now required for Leeds including the Leeds supertram and proposals to open new railway stations to improve mobility in the city.

February 1999

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