‘Key to the ongoing sustainable development of Leeds and its City Region,’ is how Environment Minister and Leeds MP Hilary Benn described the city’s proposed trolleybus network today.
Joined by Stuart Archbold, Chairman of Leeds-based Archbold Logistics and the city’s Integrated Transport Partnership, and Cllr Chris Greaves, Deputy Chairman of Metro which coordinates West Yorkshire’s transport services, Mr Benn was at Leeds City station to see the bid documents safely on their way to the Department for Transport.
Continued sustainable growth
"Leeds is really important for the region and a major player in the UK’s economy and the NGT Trolleybus network’s ability to tackle congestion and reduce the city’s carbon footprint will support its continued sustainable growth,” said Mr Benn today.
“Developing this new transport system would enhance Leeds’ ability to compete on the national and international stage.”
If Leeds’s bid for a 14km network to the DfT is successful, it could mean trolleybuses returning to Britain’s streets for the first time in over 40 years. Powered by overhead electric lines, the modern ‘bendy’ trolleybuses would wisk up to 160 people, cleanly and quickly from park-and-ride sites at the edge of Leeds with the city centre. It would also connect the city’s two hospitals and universities.
Stuart Archbold said the benefits of a trolleybus system in Leeds would provide are ‘far-reaching’.
“Efficient transport links like the NGT trolleybus network encourage investment and expansion and the NGT network’s ability to encourage people out of their cars would also help businesses reduce the potential costs they face from congestion,” he said.
“Only recently the British Chambers of Commerce Director General, David Frost called for investment in the UK’s transport infrastructure to be protected because of these extra benefits.”
Connectivity that Leeds needs
Cllr Greaves said, “Only a swift, high-quality, public transport system such as the proposed NGT trolleybus network can provide the connectivity that Leeds needs.
“Trolleybuses can carry large volumes of passengers, quickly, safely and in comfort and thanks to its segregation from other traffic and permanence, will help to persuade motorists to get out of their cars and take the faster, greener way of getting into and around the city.”
Watch an animation of how trolleybuses could look, on the NGT web site.
As well as receiving widespread support at a recent series of public events, the plans for the trolleybus network are being backed by the city’s politicians and its business and academic sectors.
East Leeds MP George Mudie said, “There is an urgent need for a transport system that offers improved reliability, cheaper fares, frequent services and environmentally friendly vehicles.
“The proposals drawn up by Metro and Leeds City Council for the trolleybus network will meet those needs.”
Leeds Metropolitan University Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Hitchins said “The NGT trolleybus routes will provide an important additional link between our civic quarter campus in Leeds city centre and the Headingley Campus and Headingley Carnegie Stadium just off Otley Road.
Professor Michael Arthur Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds said, “The NGT trolleybus network would definitely have a positive impact upon the very busy route between the University and the Hyde Park and Headingley areas where a significant number of our students live.”
Peter Gilman, Chairman of the GMI Property Company said, “As a commercial development company focused on investment and development activities, GMI Property welcomes the boost that a fast efficient and green trolleybus system could bring to existing companies and those wanting to locate in our city.”
Almost £1/4bn, representing 90% of the scheme’s costs, has already been earmarked for NGT, which now requires DfT approval to progress. The remaining 10% will be a local contribution from Metro and the City Council.
DfT Officials have indicated to Leeds that it will hear by the end of the year whether it has the go-ahead to progress with the scheme. The next step would be a submission for a Transport and Works Act Order early in 2010 with a Public Inquiry in early 2011. Assuming NGT gets full approval, construction could begin in 2013 and the UK’s first new trolleybuses could be operating by 2015.
NGT web site.