Leeds station needs "massive redevelopment" to deliver Integrated Rail Plan, Grant Shapps confirms

A "radical transformation" of Leeds railway station will be required to deliver the Government's Integrated Rail Plan, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Speaking to the Transport Select Committee yesterday, he accepted that a "massive redevelopment" of the station and surrounding lines will be required to deliver on proposals such as running HS2 services to the city and cutting journey times to Bradford to 12 minutes.

Committee chair Huw Merriman said: "A lot of the delivery you are talking about requires Leeds station to have more capacity.

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"The 12 minutes you talked about from Bradford to Leeds - at the moment it takes an awful lot of time to actually navigate through the way the tracks are configured in Leeds station.

Grant Shapps during a previous visit to Leeds railway station.

"With HS2 trains to Leeds station - it is already at 105 per cent capacity, so how do you actually get those up there as well? Doesn't all of this require a massive redevelopment of Leeds station?"

Mr Shapps replied: "Yes, that's right."

He said while "huge investment" has already gone into the railway station, "we need to do a lot more".

Mr Shapps said the answer of how to get HS2 services to Leeds will come through a £100m study the Government has ordered into the issue after the original plan for the station to be part of the full Eastern leg route was scrapped in November.

"We will be answering in detail the questions you have just asked. I completely accept Leeds station will need a radical transformation."

Mr Merriman asked whether it may ultimately be necessary to go back to the original HS2 plan, which included a new t-shaped station in Leeds.

Mr Shapps said: "The IRP makes a commitment to get HS2 trains to Leeds. So we will need to do what we need to do to get the trains there. I don't want to preempt the study, the whole point of it is to work out what will need to be done."

He said he would be making a further announcement on the study after the local elections.

In February, West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin told the select committee that the Government's decision to cancel the HS2 route to Leeds has hit 10 years of planning for a new city centre station.

It had been planned that Leeds station would be redeveloped into a T-shaped station designed to deal with HS2 services and local trains.

An initial consultation was first launched on how to accommodate HS2 in Leeds in January 2013 and the option for the T-shaped design was selected in November 2015 - with the hope that it would be the centrepiece of regeneration of the South Bank area and lead to hundreds of millions in private sector investment and more than 10,000 new jobs.

Land around the original station was safeguarded for the planned arrival of HS2 - and despite November's cancellation decision, it remains so. The Government has asked for safeguarding to continue while it carries out a £100m study into how to eventually connect HS2 services to Leeds - including the possibility of reviving the original Eastern Leg plans.

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