Investment in infrastructure is vital if Bradford’s road and rail network is to be “HS2-ready” in time for the new London-Leeds rail link opening, warned the leader of Bradford Council.
Councillor David Green welcomed yesterday’s announcement from the Government about its preferred route for the second stage of the high-speed rail network, which is expected to be up and running by 2033.
But Coun Green reiterated that it was now vital that electrification commitments were maintained and that the funding was put in place to support local infrastructure requirements.
His comments came as it was revealed that the location for a new station in central Leeds is to be the South Bank area of the city centre. It would be joined to the existing station by a pedestrian link and moving walkways.
The service is intended to cut journey times from Leeds to London by 50 minutes to one hour 22 minutes.
He said: “The announcement makes it more important than ever that we get a commitment for the start of the electrification of the Caldervale line and look at the improvements to the direct links north and south from Bradford.
“Clearly there will be some regional benefits which are to be welcomed and people and businesses need to be thinking how we can benefit from these. But in the meantime we have got to have the local and regional infrastructure in place to make sure we can all benefit.”
Other leaders from across the city-region also called for funding for infrastructure to be a top priority.
Leeds Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield said: “The proposed station offers a unique opportunity to create a striking new gateway into the city centre, but will only work if the interchange links directly into Leeds Station and comes with a significant government package of investment in its infrastructure, road and rail links.”
Metro chairman Councillor James Lewis said it was a huge boost to the local economy. “But for the full potential of HS2 to be felt in Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield and the whole city-region as well as Leeds itself, we need to ensure that by the time high-speed trains start arriving we have a local transport network that is HS2-ready,” he warned.
Leeds City Region LEP chairman, Neil McLean, said: “HS2 will bring real benefits to all our cities by freeing capacity on the existing local rail network and improving connections to the capital and European markets, which in turn will shape business investment decisions and enhance our competitiveness on the world stage."