|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The significant role of rail is demonstrated by the fact that since 2000 its modal share of peak traffic into Leeds has increased to 15 per cent., while bus modal share has declined slightly to 24.4 per cent. Interestingly, car mode share has declined to 56 per cent., largely as a result of increased rail use. On the question of carbon emissions, we know from research by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
that per passenger mile rail travel produces only 40 per cent. as much CO2 as petrol-fuelled cars and only 50 per cent. as much as cars fuelled by diesel.
Under this Government, there have been numerous examples of tangible improvements in my constituency in terms of rail services. As I said, my constituency is served by three stations: Horsforth on the Harrogate line, New Pudsey on the Caldervale line, and Guiseley on the Airedale and Wharfedale line. All three stations have undergone refurbishment and renewal, though capacity issues and parking problems remain associated with each of them. The efficiency of Leeds City station has been increased with a £250 million investment to reduce congestion and delays. I have to say, as a regular rail user myself, that we used to spend about a third of the journey waiting outside the station for a platform to become vacant. That has now more or less disappeared as a passenger experience.
In terms of rolling stock, we have seen the introduction of the excellent new 333 class rolling stock on the Airedale and Wharfedale line, half of which were funded by a rail passenger partnership grant that I fondly remember lobbying Ministers about. Those excellent vehicles replaced 40-year-old slam-door cast-offs from the south-eastern commuter belt. I remember some years ago a guard showing me into his little office in the rear of one of those trains and pointing out a sign saying, In the event of emergency the nearest accident and emergency unit is Romford General, which is more than 200 miles away from any of the stations that the carriages then served. I am delighted by the success of our recent negotiations with the Department for Transport, which enabled these carriages, originally funded on a short-term basis by the RPP grant, to be retained. I thank the Minister and her Department for that assistance.
Last year, Metro, West Yorkshires passenger transport executive, worked with Yorkshire Forward and Northern Rail, the operators, on a £20 million partnership to add 12 carriages to the local train network. That included extra capacity on two of the lines through my constituencythe Caldervale and Harrogate lines. That was most welcome. However, one problem is that we are constantly running just to stand still in terms of meeting the huge demand in Leeds for extended capacity in our local rail services.
Pressure has rightly been put on local developers, particularly of major developments, to make a contribution towards the rail infrastructure. For example, the developer of the former Kirkstall Forge site, which is just outside my constituency but will have a major impact on it, is to make a £4 million contribution towards the delivery of a new rail station on that site and towards additional rail capacity. Part of the package should also help to fund the opening of a further station at Apperley Bridge, which is, again, just on the perimeter of my constituency but will be used by my constituents if and when it materialises. Metro is also in discussions with Leeds city council and developers about a proposed development at Horsforth Woodsideanother major development where a public transport injection from the developer is essential if it is to be regarded as remotely sustainable.
Some parts of my constituency have seen substantial additional house building on brownfield sites. We have frequent arguments about the sustainability and density
of such developments. Planners seem to base their interpretation of planning guidance, such as the former planning policy guidance note 3 on housing, on the idea that the simple existence of a railway station gives the capacity to deal with the larger number of residents generated by a major housing development. I have tried to make it clear that that could not be further from the truth.
It is often impractical to build new stations or enhance park and ride, even where we know that huge demand exists and there would be tremendous take-up, simply because there is insufficient capacity on the network to carry the additional passenger numbers that would be generated. That clearly nonsensical paradox must be addressed if we are to get people out of their cars, and that is why increased capacity is absolutely crucial in my area and many others. The rail White Papers proposal to deploy 1,300 extra carriages nationally and its recognition that a proportion of those should be used to address overcrowding in places such as Leeds is therefore extremely welcome.
Metro has calculated that 100 carriages are required to address the current levels of overcrowding and the future predicted growth in the Leeds city region. That need is endorsed by the DFTs own statements in the regional planning assessment for Yorkshire and Humberside. The DFT growth forecasts for West Yorkshire by 2016 range from 22 to 55 per cent. and the DFT has acknowledged that the growth is likely to be at the higher end.
I urge my right hon. Friend the Minister to ensure that the maximum number of carriages possible are deployed in my area, in Leeds and in West Yorkshire at the earliest opportunity. It is also important that the cost of providing this new rolling stock does not fall disproportionately on passenger fares, resulting in hikes. People have a fear about that. We ideally need new rolling stock that is more suitable than the old Sprinters and Pacers operating on the Harrogate and Caldervale lines, although the pragmatists among us accept that in the short term cascaded stock might be appropriate to bring quick improvements, provided there is a plan to replace them in due course with more up-to-date rolling stock. It is also crucial that the more ambitious proposals in the Leeds city region transport vision, such as the introduction of tram-train on the Harrogate and Leeds-Bradford airport lines and further electrification, are kept on the agenda.
Briefly, on the airport, the five West Yorkshire councils that owned it recently sold it off. They said that that was done to give it access to private capital to promote its growth. Paradoxically, to say the least, that came out of the mouths of some people who had condemned the predictions for its growth when the White Paper on air travel was published. Regrettably, none of the £150 million proceeds of this sale are to be invested in addressing the present and future impact of the airports operation on local communities. The money could have been used to make a contribution to creating some of the passenger transport links, especially the rail ones, to which I referred a few moments ago.
In the light of what I have said, it will come as no surprise to the Minister that I wish to make a plea, as one always does on such occasions, for the funding of
Yorkshire and Humberside, and therefore of west Yorkshire, Leeds and Pudseynot necessarily in that orderto be addressed. I am sure that as a Yorkshire MP, she will be only too familiar with the arguments that are waged between us as politicians, and with local authorities, with organisations such as Yorkshire Forward and, last but not least, with the media.
In the past 20 years, Leeds has created more jobs than any other major city apart from London. Between 1981 and 2002, it added 86,000 new jobs to its work force and it is expected to provide approximately 46 per cent. of the regions additional 60,000 jobs between 2004 and 2014. Although jobs have been created in Leeds, they are being taken up by the increasing number of people living outside the Leeds city boundary. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of people commuting to Leeds increased by 38 per cent. Many of those people travel though my constituency. It is clear that unless we obtain more investment in public transport, the combination of traffic congestion and a public transport network that cannot cope with the number of passengers using it will begin to choke our communities and strangle economic growth in cities such as Leeds and other parts of the West Yorkshire PTE area.
One of the most significant concerns is the fact that spending per head on transport in Yorkshire and Humber, despite welcome and substantial increases under this Government, still compares unfavourably with the rest of the country. In Yorkshire and Humber, spending on transport in 2001 was £117 per head. In 2006-07, the Government spent £215 per person in Yorkshire and Humberside, which although it was a significant increase was much lower than the England average of £305 per capita. In 2007-08, West Yorkshire received the second lowest per capita local transport plan allocation of the six passenger transport authority areas.
The regional transport board has advised the Government that for the period up to 2015-16 the Leeds city region should receive £140 million, which represents less than 20 per cent. of the overall funding for Yorkshire and Humberside. I appreciate that that has since increased, with the allocation of £150 million for the trolley bus scheme to replace the supertram, but the overall amount is still substantially lower than the 60 per cent. share that would reflect the Leeds city regions population or contribution to employment and gross value added in the region.
A higher transport spend per head would allow West Yorkshire Metro, for example, to provide the Leeds city region with a model for an efficient public transport network that would underpin the sustainable development of the city regions economy. Sustained and significant investment will build on the excellent, but often isolated and limited, examples of successful good practice, some of which I have mentioned as resulting from Government funding and policy. Investment in roads would allow the upgrading and improvement of the Leeds and Bradford ring road, part of which runs through my constituency, and allow other key routes between towns and cities to remove some obvious bottlenecks and pressure points.
All that I have said so far boils down to three key messages. The first is that we require real and practical local powers to deliver bus services that meet the needs of passengers. Secondly, we need significant increases in rail capacity to address overcrowding and predicted
growth in demand. Last, but not least, we need a much fairer funding deal for the region, from which my constituency and my city would undoubtedly benefit. I hope that my right hon. Friend can satisfy me to some substantive degree on each of those points.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Ms Rosie Winterton): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell) on securing this debate, in which he has once again demonstrated how strongly he feels about the issue of transport. I know that he has had three debates in the last few years on related issues. He also introduced a private Members Bill on the issue of quality contracts. He set out clearly how all sections of his constituency are affected by transport.
I wish to reassure my hon. Friend that the Government certainly recognise how vital transport is to the well-being of communities. The comprehensive spending review announced by the Chancellor confirmed the Governments commitment to a sustainable and integrated transport system that enhances our quality of life and supports our continued economic success. Transport spending will have doubled in real terms over the 20 years to 2018-19, and the comprehensive spending review will deliver a 2.25 per cent. real annual increase in my Departments budget, which we should all welcome.
I want to address the issue of funding for the Yorkshire and Humber region. We need to be clear about this. Department spending on road and rail in the Yorkshire and Humber region has increased by 77 per cent. over the six years leading up to 2007-08; it has increased from £330 million in 2001-02 to £590 million in 2007-08.
Ms Winterton: Secondly, local transport funding for Yorkshire and Humber has more than doubled in the last seven years, from £75 million in 2000-01 to £156 million in 2007-08. Thirdly, in July 2006, we announced plans to fund 31 major road and public transport schemes in Yorkshire and the Humber from the £927 million provisionally allocated over the next 10 years in response to regional advice about priorities in the region.
It is also true that a wide range of factors are taken into account when determining how funding is to be distributed, including the needs of different areas and where investment might have recently been made. It is difficult to make a direct comparison between expenditure in each region. The needs of different areas can depend, for example, on issues such as the length of the strategic road network there, or the amount of support that train operating companies in the region require. It is also important that we in the north recognise that expenditure on national infrastructure, such as motorways and strategic networks that feed into the region, can benefit us as well, even if they are in another region.
My hon. Friend spoke of the Leeds city region development plan vision for transport, which aims to ensure that transport serves the people in the city
region, connects people to jobs, education, training, retail and leisure facilities, and connects the city region to others in the UK. The transport vision is a £4.5 billion programme of improvements over 25 years. The city region partners are involved in further work and, I am glad to say, my officials have regular meetings with them to help them to establish deliverable short, medium and long-term priorities. Of course, it is for the city region partners to identify suitable funding in order to deliver their vision, but we are giving central support to work with them.
I was pleased to see that my hon. Friend mentioned a number of improvements to transport in his constituency. It is true that changes are happening on the buses. Bus patronage in West Yorkshire has been broadly static over the last five years at around 200 million trips per year, but Metro has set an ambitious growth target for 2010-11 of 210 million trips per year. I know that Metros partnership investment in free city bus services for Leeds and Wakefield has been extremely popular and well received. Design work is nearing completion on a significant quality bus corridor on the A65 Kirkstall road in Leeds. A new bus lane and associated bus priority measures will help to cut bus journey times by up to 6 minutes, and will also address congestion on one of the busiest radial routes into Leeds.
Planning work is well advanced on a new £3 million town centre bus station in Pudsey. That will add another high quality facility to the growing number of modern, award-winning West Yorkshire bus stations. I am told that the new building is eye-catching. That, together with improvements to traffic flow on Church lane, will enhance Pudsey town centre, and provide passengers with an improved, comfortable and enclosed waiting environment with 24-hour, monitored CCTV coverage and real-time departure information. All that genuinely contributes to people getting on buses. Comfort, safety, security and information matter.
My hon. Friend mentioned the ftr bus, which is an example of the new public transport concept of bus rapid transit. That was introduced in partnership with FirstGroup, and involves futuristic ftr buses and improvements to the highway. Route 4, between Pudsey and Whinmoor via the city square, was one of the first to benefit from that new technology. The Department is working with Leeds and Metro to develop a wider high-quality bus rapid transit scheme for the city, involving complementary measures such as park and ride.
My hon. Friend mentioned the draft Local Transport Bill. Although the historic decline in bus patronage is levelling off, more needs to be done. Government investment in bus services has increased to £2.5 billion per year compared with £1 billion a decade ago, but more remains to be done. Bus services work best where there are good relations between bus operators and local authorities, and each is prepared to investthe local authority in better infrastructure and the operators in better vehicles. If we can be confident that each side is playing its part, that can make a difference.
The draft Bill provides more opportunities for quality partnerships, allowing them to specify minimum frequencies and maximum fares, which my hon. Friend mentioned. The operators would have to
be willing partners in all that, but we are strengthening the local authorities negotiating hand. The draft Bill also includes provisions to tackle problems of poor punctuality. Again, the local authorities and the operators need to act in harmony on that. Such matters really matter to passengers, and they want enforcement if local authorities are not doing their bit about bus lanes in the same way as they want operators to play their part.
The point of my hon. Friends private Members Bill two and a half years ago was to deal with quality contract schemes. The draft Bill makes such schemes, when they are in the public interest, a more realistic option for local authorities. As my hon. Friend said, it would replace the only practicable way test, which local authorities said was unrealistically high. The proposal has been welcomed by local authorities. I assure my hon. Friend that the idea of having an approval board for the Secretary of State is not to put unnecessary hurdles in the way but to allow greater certainty that the quality contracts can go ahead without other problems entering the arena.
The draft Bill also sets out proposals to restructure the way in which transport is delivered in communities. It would allow for the reform of transport governance arrangements in existing areas as well as the establishment of new passenger transport authorities and changes to the boundaries of existing PTA areas. I know that the West Yorkshire PTA is actively considering that with interest.
My hon. Friend referred to rail, and made an important point about it. As he said, our White Paper on rail will include buying an additional 1,300 new carriages, over
300 of which will address rapid growth in demand in cities, including Leeds. We are going to produce a plan for the distribution of the rolling stock by January 2008. As my hon. Friend said, we announced that additional capacity would be provided to accommodate peak demand of more than 35 per cent. in the Leeds journey-to-work area by 2014. Additional capacity will be provided by lengthening trains operated by TransPennine Express. Journey times between Liverpool and Manchester will be reduced to 40 minutes and fast services between Manchester and Leeds cut to 43 minutes.
I hope that my hon. Friend was pleased by the announcement that I made last week about the feasibility study of the Manchester hub, which has important implications for the Northern Way, which is looking at how we support economic growth in the three northern regions. That will obviously have a big effect on the Leeds area, where the feasibility study will consider how to deliver increased capacity and improved reliability.
I hope that I have been able to outline the Governments ambitious agenda for improving transport in Pudsey and West Yorkshire, as well as in the rest of the country. That agenda includes providing improved access to jobs and services. We have invested in transport and we will continue to invest in transport. We will continue to tackle congestion and we will continue to work to provide high-quality public transport for all. My hon. Friend has campaigned tirelessly on the issue. I hope that what I have said today will give him some reassurance about our plans for the future, particularly the draft Local Transport Bill, which I believe will make a real difference to local transport.