West Yorkshire mass transit: £200m for 'development and initial delivery'

Plans to spend around £200m on bringing a mass transit system to West Yorkshire are set for approval.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority has not finalised the route for the scheme, which is expected to cost more than £2bn and be fully operational in 2040, or decided whether tram-trains or prioritised routes of electric buses will be used.

But the organisation, which is run by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and council leaders in the region, is expected to sign off plans to invest £199.9m on “development and initial delivery” over the next five years, when it meets on Thursday, March 17.

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If approved, the money will be taken from the £830m City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement, which was provided by the Government last year.

An image supplied by West Yorkshire Combined Authority shows what the new mass transit system could look like.

The combined authority is also working on a business case and aiming to submit it to the Department for Transport before the end of the year.

It is currently exploring plans for a network, consisting of nine lines, that links towns and cities across West Yorkshire, including Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield.

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In its £96bn Integrated Rail Plan, which was published in November, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the project and said the first services will be "operational in the second half of this decade".

The plan added: "We will start work on the new West Yorkshire Mass Transit System and support West Yorkshire Combined Authority over the long term to ensure that this time, it gets done.

"That commitment begins now with more than £200m of immediate funding to plan the Mass Transit System and start building it."

The organisation is also looking to employ a director to run the project and additional staff to join its “small in-house programme team”.

In a report, it added: “At this point, decisions around the final mode, for example, bus rapid transit, light rail and very light rail, and the precise route have yet to be made.

“These factors will significantly impact on the costings for the scheme. Information around costing will be developed as part of future business case stages and will be made available for future public engagements.”

Plans for Leeds Supertram were abandoned by the Government in 2005 before a highly controversial bid to bring a £250m trolley bus network to the city was scrapped in 2016.

Almost 30 years and £72m of taxpayers’ money were spent on these failed schemes.