Rail plans slashed in bid for approval

MORE than £6m has been slashed from a major rail project in Yorkshire in a bid for Government approval.

The revised £17m package for two new stations at Kirkstall Forge in Leeds and Apperley Bridge near Bradford was approved by Metro, the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority.

The original £23m project had included car park extensions at five stations but these will now form part of a separate bid by train operator Northern Rail.

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Planned to provide better connections between Bradford and Leeds and to relieve congestion on the busy commuter routes between the two cities, the Rail Growth Package was originally submitted in November 2009.

As part of the Government’s comprehensive spending review, Metro was asked to identify potential savings in the scheme.

CEG, the company behind the Kirkstall Forge development has already earmarked a £5.5m contribution to the project and this will be complemented by £1.3m of the proceeds from Metro’s recent sale of rolling stock and £250,000 through the Local Transport Plan.

The remaining £10m would come from the Department for Transport, which is expected to make its decision by the end of the year.

Metro chairman James Lewis said: “Developing these new stations with over 400 parking spaces, at Kirkstall and Apperley Bridge will provide passengers with quick and convenient links to the major employment centres in Leeds and Bradford and help take thousands of commuter journeys off local roads.

“These new stations, along with the new Leeds Station southern entrance and the additional trains arriving on electrified routes from December 2011 represent part of Metro’s and its partners’ efforts to create a local railway network that can meet the growing demands being placed today.”

Under the Government’s spending review, the Rail Growth Package has been put into a development pool of £630m of funding, to be shared between 43 schemes across England and Wales.

Meanwhile Metro and the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce have both submitted their responses to the high speed rail consultation, which closed yesterday.

The Yorkshire Post campaign Fast Track to Yorkshire has been calling for a direct route from the region to London and both organisations have pledged their support.

The Government has called on supporters of the project to make their voices heard above an influential lobby in the south which opposes the scheme.

Ian Williams, director of policy and business representation at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber, said: “HS2 will deliver both growth and jobs to Yorkshire.

“It is a key driver of regeneration when combined with appropriate economic development policies and has the potential to transform the nature of the national economy by rebalancing the strength of the northern regions.

“The Yes to High Speed Rail campaign has made great strides in the past few weeks in demonstrating the economic and social case for HSR and dispelling the myths set out by the anti-HSR lobby in the south.”