Proposed high speed rail test facility could make Leeds a ‘global’ player

Plans to create a “globally significant” rail test facility in Leeds are set to go Leeds City Council before decision-makers.

The rail facility is set to be the first of its kind in the UK

The University of Leeds’s blueprints to build a brand new engineering and technology facility in Cross Green will go before Leeds City Council’s north and east plans panel next week.

Announced back in December, the site will include one of the world’s largest facilities to test high speed rail carriages, which would be the only facility of its kind in the UK

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A report into the plans by Leeds City Council claims the site could attract investment and help accelerate economic growth in the region.

The rail facility is set to be the first of its kind in the UK

The outline plans include a new facility include two components: an infrastructure test facility (ITF); and a vehicle test facility (VTF).

The ITF would be a full-scale outdoor facility to test rail track structures and new ground-stabilization technologies. The VTF would be an indoor facility to test how trains and carriages interact with different track systems. Each facility will have the capacity for vehicles to travel up to 250 mph.

The report states the UK is set to see “the greatest investment in the railways since the Victorian era”, and that the UK’s train fleet is forecast to grow by 89 per cent over the next 28 years, with between 11,000 and 16,000 new electric vehicles expected to be added to the network.

It adds: “The lack of suitable R&D and test facilities could cause delays and disruption in getting new rolling stock into service. This project would fill that gap.

“The facility is expected to provide infrastructure and vehicle testing facilities, together with the ability to assess rail systems integration, in a way which will be globally significant and will give Leeds and Leeds City Region a significant competitive advantage in attracting investment in the rail and infrastructure sector.”

As the application forms the outline plan for the facility, this would mean that, even if accepted, more detailed plans would have to go before planning chiefs for approval at a later date.

The outline application will be heard at Leeds City Council’s north and east plans panel on Thursday, March 14.