THE Government has been told it would be “perverse in the extreme” to not link up Leeds Bradford Airport with £600m of northern railway improvements.
MPs have called on the Department for Transport to back a £98m plan for a new rail link to the regional airport as the best possible solution to its “notorious” travel connections.
Ministers have said they are still awaiting the findings of an independent study into what needs to be done to improve links to Leeds Bradford.
Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew yesterday led the call for a new railway link which, he said, would ensure journey times from Leeds city centre to the airport were just nine minutes “a pipe dream to many at present.”
The Tory MP said the Government was rightly investing millions into the Northern Hub project in the North West, but that it would be a missed opportunity for the Government not to widen its reach to Leeds.
“We need to be linked to the existing Leeds Harrogate line. £98m is a considerable amount of money, but if we are serious about connecting the North we really need to take along term approach.
“The Government is investing in the Northern hub, it has a massive electrification programme.
“But it would be perverse in the extreme not to link one of the region’s largest airports to that new and improved network.
“When ministers look at the options cost benefit ratios, I hope also they look at the Jubilee line in London.
“They were poor at the time but significantly increased once it was in operation.”
He added that the UK also has “ one of the largest infrastructure projects this country has seen in centuries coming to Leeds within the next 20 years.”
Mr Stuart said “I am of course talking about HS2.
“What a missed opportunity it would be if people were to get off this brand new, shiny high-speed rail link and head into Leeds station, one of the busiest in the country, and discover that you cannot get to the region’s largest airport by train.
“Even a three year-old child would not come up with such a hair-brain scheme.”
Leeds MP Greg Mulholland said it was important the airport got a rail link in addition to the Leeds-Harrogate-York line being electrified.
The Liberal Democrat said that a decision on the most effective transport system for the city had to be made locally rather than by civil servants 200 miles away in Whitehall.
He added: “With the Leeds city region economy worth over £50bn a year, we should be able to make the decision to build the rail link locally. “
Transport minister Robert Goodwill said that in his Scarborough and Whitby seat people regularly went direct to Manchester by train rather than risk changing for flights in Leeds.
Mr Goodwill said: “Whatever action the Government decides to take on the study’s recommendation individual scheme proposals such as a new road or rail link would need to be subject to further evaluation and require statutory consent before they could proceed.
“This would provide the opportunity for further consultation and public comment.”