26 October 2010
Responding to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond’s announcement that the Leeds New Generation Transport trolleybus network could still go-ahead, Metro Deputy Chairman Cllr Ryk Downes said,
“While we would have preferred definite go-aheads today, we see the fact that we will be able to make further representations to the Government on the NGT trolleybus scheme and the Rail Growth package as positive news.
“We were encouraged by the DfT to pursue the trolleybus scheme and have worked very closely to ensure it meets all of the Department’s targets in terms of cost benefits, environmental standards, as well as being the basis for the creation of 4,000 permanent jobs.
“The scheme meets the Government’s stated aims of supporting public transport and, as the only project on the list featuring electrically-powered road vehicles and its backing for sustainable low-carbon transport initiatives.
£35m savings already offered
"Recently we put forward proposals to Transport Minister Norman Baker to save a further 15% off the scheme’s costs. This reduction of £35m would bring the Government’s input down to just below £200m and means we require just £50m of the scheme’s costs over the Comprehensive Spending Review period.
“These factors combined with the fact that Leeds remains Europe’s largest city without a rapid transit system mean that the NGT trolleybus scheme deserves to be at the top of Mr Hammond’s final list.
Disappointed by delay
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for city development, said: "We are pleased that the Leeds trolleybus is included in the list of the 22 schemes which could still be in line for government funding but very disappointed that we have yet to go through another bidding round and another year of uncertainty and delay. This will also bring extra costs in developing the proposals again.
"It is particularly disappointing given that we have already looked to save a further 15 per cent of the scheme's costs and have worked very closely with the Department for Transport on this scheme.
"Indeed, the 15 per cent saving equates to £35million which would bring the government's own contribution to less than £200 million.
"The NGT Trolleybus network's ability to tackle congestion and reduce the city's carbon footprint will speed Leeds' recovery from recession. It will boost its economy and enhance the region's ability to compete on the national and international stage and we will continue our work to press the government on the urgent need to deliver this scheme."
Retaining competitive edge
Gary Williamson, Chief Executive of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, also said the announcement was positive news for Leeds and the wider city region and that a modern integrated transport solution was crucial in order for the city to retain its competitive edge and attract inward investment.
“Transport is a key driver of productivity and investment in local transport infrastructure is investment in the long-term economic future of the Leeds City Region. The Chamber and our members have campaigned tirelessly for funding for the Leeds Trolleybus and will continue to do so.”