Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester need major public transport investment, report says

Leeds is among a handful of cities to be recommended to receive investment in public transport improvements, within a new governmental report.

The second National Infrastructure Assessment – a five-yearly review conducted by the National Infrastructure Commission – has identified that Leeds should receive a share of suggested £22bn of funding for major public transport schemes between 2028 and 2045. The report – which also earmarks Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester as priority cities – highlights how less than four in 10 of Leeds’ population can reach the centre of the city by public transport within 30 minutes – a measure the Commission notes is worse than many other European cities of a similar size.

It also cites expected growth in passenger demand with an estimated capacity gap of at least 7,000 additional passengers unable to reach Leeds city centre during midweek peak by 2055. The Commission authors say the scale of Leeds’ need could justify tram or rail-based networks and that planning should start as soon as possible given the timescales of such major projects.

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Of the £22bn pot recommended in the report, the Commission suggests two-thirds should be put towards schemes in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester and their wider city regions. It also says that mass transit systems alone are not enough to encourage greater use of public transport and that further measures such as congestion charging and workplace parking levies should also be considered.

Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Growing the size and productivity of Leeds will help rebalance the country’s economic geography as well as create more well paid jobs locally. Better public transport and easing traffic congestion is key to that. Leeds is one of four city regions with a clear case for significant government investment in a step change in transport capacity.

“While the way we travel around our big cities may change over time, keeping people moving affordably and efficiently is a key ingredient in economic growth and quality of life. Our recommendations to government set out a costed programme for delivering cleaner, faster travel, shaped by local leaders.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said: “It’s fantastic to see this recognition of how important investment in transformational public transport infrastructure is to the future of our region. We have an ambitious plan for a mass transit system that will serve the whole of West Yorkshire — connecting its important places, tackling climate change and unlocking economic growth across the region and the entire country.

“I hope the report’s recommendations are studied closely by the Government and would urge it and any future administrations to provide the certainty and funding to make them a reality.”

The National Infrastructure Assessment was compiled following two years of analysis, engagement and public research, including meetings with Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local business leaders. The Government is expected to respond formally to the assessment within 12 months.

The report also highlights the scrapping of the HS2 rail scheme to Manchester at the Conservative Party conference, with the Government instead putting forward a number of local transport schemes.

It says: “Government had developed a long term plan to improve rail performance between cities in the North and the Midlands. The High Speed 2 line between London and Manchester via Birmingham, alongside Northern Powerhouse Rail and other changes, would have improved significantly north-south and east-west rail connectivity.

“This investment would also have freed up capacity on the existing rail network, enabling more local and regional services to run and providing significant increases to city centre accessibility.The second Assessment has been undertaken on the basis of the delivery of this long term rail plan.

“On October 4, Government announced that High Speed 2 from Birmingham to Manchester will not go ahead and set out a new package of transport schemes. This decision leaves a major gap in the UK’s rail strategy around which a number of cities have based their economic growth plans.

“While Government has committed to reallocate the funding from cancelling the later phases of High Speed 2 to improve transport, including rail links, in the North and Midlands, it is not yet clear what the exact scope and delivery schedule is for the proposed new rail schemes. A new comprehensive, long term and fully costed plan that sets out how rail improvements will address the capacity and connectivity challenges facing city regions in the North and Midlands is needed.”

Original artice – https://business-live.co.uk/all-about/yorkshire-humber

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