|Transit type||Electrified tramway|
|Number of lines||3|
|Number of stations||50|
|System length||28 km (17 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
Proposals for the reinstatement of trams or a light rail system in Leeds which were withdrawn in 1959 have been ongoing since the 1970s with various plans for varying light rail systems including ones which had planned partially or fully underground routes in the city centre. The cancelled plans mentioned in this article had dated back to the early 1990s.
The planned system included three lines, which were to have been:
- Line 1 (South Line), to Stourton and Tingley via Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton
- Line 2 (North Line), to Weetwood via the University of Leeds, Hyde Park and Headingley
- Line 3 (East Line), to Whinmoor via St James's Hospital, Harehills and Seacroft
The three lines were to have been the start of a wider system which included plans for other tram lines from Leeds city centre to Bradford via Armley, Bramley and Stanningley and to Alwoodley via Chapeltown, Chapel Allerton and Moortown (the latter being mentioned in the draft Leeds Unitary Development Plan).
Following long standing delays in attempting to gain funding throughout the 1990s due to rejections by the previous John Major administration, in 2002 Leeds was successful in acquiring central government funding for the construction of the scheme. Two consortia of Momentis (which included FirstGroup, Bombardier Transportation, Bouygues and Jarvis Facilities) and Airelink (which included Arriva and Siemens Transportation Systems) had bid on the construction and operation of Leeds Supertram which was intended to have opened in 2007 or 2008. Preparation work on Leeds Supertram had started in 2003 where preparatory work was done at Leeds City Square and around the junction of the A61 South Accommodation Road and A639 Hunslet Road.
Project suspension and cancellation
However work to construct the system that was due to start in earnest in 2004 was suspended because of costs that were originally £500 million had risen far above this level to figures around £1 billion. This had resulted in a cut back to the system that would have seen Line 1 only go from the city centre to the park and ride site at Stourton and this would have saved £250 million from the construction of the scheme and efforts were done to lower development costs along the other planned routes. However despite this in late 2005, Transport Minister Alistair Darling said that he would not give the go-ahead for the scheme, despite £40 million having already been spent into the development of the scheme.
Alternatives for the future of transport in Leeds are now being discussed, in particular a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, which the government claim can deliver some of the benefits of Supertram with lower capital costs due to unsegregated routes and greater flexibility but an on long term higher price (due to shorter life expectancy of rolling stock). However, no system of this type has yet been delivered in the UK, which introduces an element of risk, although similar systems in the US have experienced lower ridership than comparable light rail lines. Another possibility currently being investigated by the local transport authority is a tram-train system. On such a system trams are capable of running onto mainline railways, being either built to handle 25 kV AC electrification or being partially diesel-powered (UK trams are electrified at 750 V DC).
- "Proposed Leeds Supertram". Light Rail Transit Association. Retrieved 14 November 2007.