Work is ‘already underway’ on new tram system in Leeds, confirms Mayor of West Yorkshire

“Yes, I can promise you because we’re already underway.”

The mayor confirmed that “work already underway” live on air.

In an interview with BBC Radio Leeds, Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin made the promise to get ‘spades in the ground’ on a mass transit system by the time she leaves her role as mayor.

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.

tram on a track with shops in the background.
The mayor confirmed that “work already underway” in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds last week. / Image: Unsplash

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.

“We’re definitely going to see spades in the ground on mass transit before I end up not being mayor…we’re looking at surface, so trams”, said Mayor of West Yorkshire to BBC Radio Leeds.

“The technology, we want to be ahead of the game we want the best tech, the most innovative , the greenest , the cleanest and also the cheapest. So we’re going to have an amazing system.”

“It’s a long haul but I’m in for it”

Trams have been a talking point in Leeds for as long as anyone can remember. / Image: Unsplash

BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Presenter Rima Ahmed pushed the mayor to confirm, asking “Is this a promise that you can make us then, by the time that you are no longer mayor Tracy Brabin, whenever that might be, that we have spades in the ground to get going on the mass transport system?”

Tracy responded: “Yes, I can promise you because we’re already underway.”

“I can’t promise that the government are going to continue giving us the funding, it’s a £2 billion project, we have £200 million currently to start the work, but I am pressing government to confirm that, whoever is the government, that they will continue investing in mass transit.”

Plans for a network across the city centre have been going on for quite some time, including back in 2021 when it was briefly reported that ministers could consider an inner-city tram network instead of HS2.

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. 

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”.

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It is thought that over time more plans will be revealed about the new mass transit system that Tracy Brabin spoke of in this interview.

Feature Image- Unsplash

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