PHILIP Crowther correctly outlines the benefits from investment in transport infrastructure, but has chosen the wrong project to champion in HS2 (The Yorkshire Post, August 7).
Everything has an opportunity cost. For individuals, such choices usually concern depreciating assets such as whether to spend a small inheritance on a cruise and quality second hand car or the purchase of a new car. Cities face investment choices too.
Spending enormous sums of money on HS2 will preclude serious investment in municipal transport systems. Average longer journey distances in France, Germany and Spain justify high-speed intercity connections, but all cities the size of Leeds also boast electrified city tram and metro networks.
HS2 will benefit a few people some of the time, but isn’t transport for the many. Leeds enjoys good rail connections north and south but east-west is dire, as is the ease of mobility in the city which relies on diesel buses unchanged from those whose numbers nerdy me jotted down in the 1960s.
Hence a new line to York via the Aire Valley would allow the line to Garforth to become the eastern extension of a cross city rail tunnel. The entire local rail network should be electrified and lines re-opened to Wetherby, Otley and Ripon.
A municipal tram network centred on St James’s Hospital would link this major passenger objective with new hospitals to be constructed adjacent to LGI, currently very difficult to access.
Further west, it is vital to improve capacity to Manchester and connect Bradford to Huddersfield with a new direct line.
Leeds councillors boast of ‘sky high’ ambition for the city with ‘new this’ and ‘new that’, but they never ever suggest the obvious – that rail and tram transport in the city centre should be underground which in the manner of Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ would allow much of the ugly eyesore rail and road infrastructure around the city centre to disappear.
Ambition for Leeds to be the best British city in which to live by 2030 means learning from Calgary, Edmonton, Bergen, Gothenburg, Bremen, Hannover, Dortmund, Lille, Zurich and Zaragoza, all of which have similar populations.
Liverpool, Newcastle and Britain’s best provincial city, Glasgow, also have excellent local rail networks worthy of emulation.
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