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Council eyes city centre to airport train tram link

New study commissioned but search still on for funding

Published on January 12th 2011.

Council eyes city centre to airport train tram link

The city council has stepped up plans for a proposed tram-train link between Leeds city centre and Leeds Bradford International Airport (LIBA).

Funding the link could be a problem, however.

Bus and train operator Metro has commissioned Network Rail to carry out a feasibility study into the link, and a newly-published council report claims the idea was in demand and would be ‘good value for money.’

Government cuts mean that local transport budgets have been slashed, however, and the council admitted there was no money to pay for it just yet.

‘Whilst the work shows that the scheme may offer good value for money with the potential for robust cost benefit ratios, sources of funding for progressing either of these schemes has not been identified,’ said the report.

The airport is set to publish a new development masterplan later this year, setting out plans until 2030.

LBIA was used by more than 2.7 million people last year and currently files to 74 different destinations. It employs 3,000 people and is ranked the 17th largest airport in the UK, below Manchester and Leeds.

The report said the growth of the airport was ‘key’ for the city region and has targeted 1,000 jobs for every million extra customers.

A heavy rail extension from the Leeds – Harrogate rail line to connect Horsforth with LBIA was ruled out as poor value for money. More research will be carried out into the engineering feasibility of ‘a rail based vehicle solution’ which could operate on a combination of heavy rail (Harrogate line Horsforth to Burley Park), a dedicated tram route (Horsforth to LBIA) and on street running (Burley Park to city centre).

‘The airport company and partners including the council have recently met to consider how best to actively promote and progress the case for a fixed public transport link to the airport,’ said the report.

The scheme is not on the government’s list of approved Transport Major Schemes, however, so cash will have to be found somewhere else. The tram-train link is also too expensive for the Local Transport Plan to fund, which only has £4m in the pot for 2011-12.

A new A65 Quality Bus Corridor scheme is on site and due to complete next summer, however, which the council claims will improve journey times and reliability for bus services between Leeds city centre and the airport.

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