Speaking in Leeds, in March 2015 David Cameron announced that Sir David Higgins, Executive Chairman at HS2 Ltd, would be tasked with relooking at the options for HS2 coming into Leeds city centre. The original thinking sets out plans for a new station terminating at New Lane, opposite Asda House in Leeds South Bank, approximately a quarter of a mile from the existing Leeds station. Sir David will be bringing his recommendations on station location back to Government in autumn 2015.
The Chamber has been a longstanding supporter of HS2 but the proposal to site a new terminus so far from the existing station would, in our opinion, be a missed opportunity to provide the seamless and integrated network required to benefit the entire region.
Leeds station is already one of the most heavily used stations in the UK with demand set to double over the next 25 years to over 60 million passengers a year, on a par with Gatwick Airport. Station capacity is already stretched, so clearly further investment is required just to ensure existing national, regional and local rail journeys can be accommodated.
Following consultation with members across Leeds, York and Bradford, the Chamber has published plans setting out their preferred option. The Chamber would like to see a single station capable of accommodating the significant growth in existing rail services and for future high speed services to run through the station rather than terminate in Leeds.
We acknowledge the financial and engineering challenges this may present but we must be ambitious and ensure Leeds has a station that provides a sense of arrival befitting one of the largest commercial centres in the country. HS2, Network Rail, the Department for Transport and Leeds City Council between them have the ability to shape the fortunes of Leeds and the wider region for generations to come.
For many of our members the journey from Kings Cross-St Pancras to Leeds is a stark reminder of the disparity in investment between London and the north. Leeds station must be viewed as a piece of infrastructure of national significance and investment prioritised accordingly.
President, Leeds Chamber of Commerce
If you have any questions or comments please contact Mark Goldstone on 0113 247 0000.