Leeds trolleybus scheme secures Government funding

Leeds looks set to become the first UK city with modern trolleybuses, following the Department for Transport's agreement to earmark £235 million for the scheme.

The DfT has given the plans Programme Entry status, meaning that the Leeds New Generation Transport (NGT) project team can begin detailed planning and seek the legal powers to move the scheme forward.

Like trams, trolleybuses are powered by overhead electric cables. But while trams run on tracks, the trolleybus would use the road either alongside other vehicles or on its own segregated routes, and have priority at junctions.

The scheme proposed for Leeds is based on single-deck articulated trolleybus vehicles, powered by overhead wires. The network comprises North and South routes with Park & Ride facilities.

Trolleybuses were used in major UK cities, including London, within living memory, but none are still in operation. Modern trolleybuses run in other European and world cities including Athens and Lyon.

Speaking in Leeds, Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said: “An efficient and reliable transport system is critical to any local community. This announcement seeks to tackle congestion in the city at peak times, whilst presenting sustainable and practical alternatives to the car."

The proposals would mean a £235m contribution from the Department for Transport with the remaining funding being provided by local authorities.

While he was in Leeds, Sadiq Khan also announced Programme Entry status for a £15m scheme to improve access to Leeds City station with the construction of a new entrance over the River Aire.

Cllr Ryk Downes, chairman of West Yorkshire public transport authority Metro, welcomed both announcements, saying: "These two important transport developments will provide a major economic boost to the Leeds City Region. NGT will mean quicker journeys into and around Leeds, which will in turn result in new jobs and business opportunities for people across West Yorkshire and beyond."

Following Programme Entry, the next stages of the approval process are normally Conditional Approval, once the necessary legal powers are in place and Full Approval, once final supplier prices have been secured. The NGT powers will be sought through a 'Transport and Works Act Order' later this year, followed by a public inquiry in 2011. Construction could then begin in 2013 with trolleybuses operating by 2016.

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