Call to fast-track building of new rail stations

AN MP is pressing for building to begin as soon as possible on two new railway stations in West Yorkshire after they were given the go-ahead by Chancellor George Osborne.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has welcomed approval for a station at Kirkstall Forge which could pave the way for a £350m regeneration project to begin, creating 2,400 jobs, after meeting Transport Minister Norman Baker yesterday.

Transport bosses say construction work could start on the station, together with another at Apperley Bridge on the Airedale Line, in summer 2013 with both opening the following year. The stations will cost £17m, of which 40 per cent will be raised locally.

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Ms Reeves, who has campaigned strongly for the Kirkstall Forge station, said: “After a long time stuck in limbo and a lot of campaigning, I’m pleased Kirkstall Forge station finally got the go-ahead on Tuesday.

“I met with Norman Baker yesterday and made it clear that the sooner we have shovels in the ground the better. I’m confident the project is now on track and I certainly can’t wait for the first train to pull out from the new station.”

The Kirkstall Forge station will be part of a 56-acre regeneration in suburban Leeds which will include offices, shops, leisure facilities and homes for 2,600 people. Journeys to the city centre will take six minutes.

The Apperley Bridge station – which will be between Shipley and Leeds – will once again serve communities on the outskirts of Bradford, Yeadon and Guiseley. A previous station there opened in 1846 but was closed in 1965 following the Beeching cutbacks.

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As well as allowing the major regeneration scheme to progress, officials hope the project could ease congestion.

Funding was announced by Mr Osborne in his Autumn Statement on Tuesday, along with the electrification of the Tranpennine line between Leeds and Manchester in an attempt to stimulate the economy.