Leeds and Bradford set to be the first city to benefit from new mass transit system connecting West Yorkshire

The proposed first leg of bringing back a mass transit system to Leeds is a route running from Leeds to Bradford.

Plans for a tram system running between Leeds and Bradford have been set out by the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin.

The plan aims to ‘revolutionise the region’s transport network’, and hope to get spades in the ground in 2028, when construction would begin.

The plans have been published ahead of May’s Mayoral election, of West Yorkshire’s leaders next week on Thursday 14 March 2024, (it is noted that by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority that this will see them agree to a major step forward for the so-called mass transit scheme). It is hoped that spades will be in the ground in 2028 when construction of the early stage of the project will begin.

The first phase would take the people of Leeds between St James’ Hospital, Leeds City Centre, Elland Road and the White Rose Shopping Centre.

There will also be a Bradford line that will run from Leeds City Centre to Bradford City Centre, and will also like Bradford Forster Square Station with the new Bradford Railways Station.

The idea is that the WYCA would like to work with Kirklees Council in the future to include a Dewsbury line and further phases could see more places across the county connected by mass transit.

The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said: “Today is a key milestone in our plan to create a better-connected region that works for all. By setting out our plans to submit to government, we are taking a major step forward towards the biggest infrastructure project West Yorkshire has seen since the development of the motorways six decades ago.

“This will be transformational for the North, helping our communities to thrive and our economy to flourish – benefitting generations to come with greater opportunity and prosperity.

“We know that mass transit systems have successfully helped to regenerate areas right across the country by boosting connectivity, opportunity and prosperity – and we will work tirelessly to make sure that happens here in West Yorkshire.”

Leeds and its trams

At present, Leeds is the largest city in Western Europe without a built-in transport system, after the past transit system that ran across the city from 1871 – 1959, using a combination of horse-drawn, steam and electric trams over time, was deemed unaffordable by the City Council following the Second World War, they ultimately closed.

There was even a Leeds Supertram plan that was scrapped in 2005 by the Transport Secretary after budget issues, but the proposed track would have served the inner city, both Universities and Headingley.

Leeds supertram plans were disbanded in 2005 but the plans are still available online. / Image: Open Street Map

The three lines would have run from Tingley, Bodington and Grimes Dyke and joined in the city centre at stations on Albion Street, Eastgate, Boar Lane and City Square. 

Naturally, it’s been a talking point ever since (so much so it became a bit of an April Fool’s joke last year) and this is not the first time Leeds has been promised a new tram network.

Back in 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “madness that Leeds should be the largest city in Europe with no metro rail system”.

Plans for a network across the city centre have been going on for quite some time, back in 2021 when it was briefly reported that ministers could consider an inner-city tram network instead of HS2 before the news was quietly confirmed by the now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at his keynote speech in October that the leftover money will be used to build a tram network in Leeds.

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Feature Image – West Yorkshire Combined Authority via Twitter

West Yorkbined Authority

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