Leeds Bradford still hopeful of airport rail link after Minister Robert Goodwill visits
New aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill. has visited Leeds Bradford airport and commented that a new rail link to the airport is “obviously desirable”. Mr Goodwill was at the airport for a whistle-stop tour, as part of a day of discussions with council and business leaders. One of the items to discuss was the possible improvement of road and rail links to the airport. This has been under discussion for several years. The local paper reports that “The Minister is visiting regional airports across the country in the wake of a new Government study, which has identified the six national congestion hotspots most in need of investment.” He said he could understand why the airport is so keen to get improved rail links, to ease travel. But quizzed on if and when the Government would be ready to invest in the region’s airport, he said he was “rather reluctant to put a timescale on that decision”. “We have to look at other airports and priorities as well….. There is a study ongoing and it will depend on the price tag, the deliverability and planning issues.” At present most people go to Leeds Bradford Airport by car or by taxi.
Aviation Minister drops in to discuss new airport rail link
1 May 2014 (Yorkshire Post)
New aviation Minister Robert Goodwill has admitted a new rail link to Leeds Bradford airport is “obviously desirable”.
Mr Goodwill was at the airport yesterday for a whistle-stop tour of the facility, as part of a day of discussions with council and business leaders.
Top of the agenda was improved road and rail links to the airport.
The Minister is visiting regional airports across the country in the wake of a new Government study, which has identified the six national congestion hotspots most in need of investment.
“Coming from Yorkshire as I do, I understand the importance of regional airports, or local international airports as I think they should really be called,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“A rail connection into the airport is obviously desirable. I am the MP for Scarborough and many of my constituents see it as [more] convenient to use Manchester airport, despite the fact it’s twice as far away, because they can get on the train at Scarborough and get off it in Manchester.
“And therefore I can understand why John (Parkin, the airport’s chief executive) is so keen to get a rail connection here, so that people an get on the train, change at Leeds or Harrogate and come into Leeds Bradford by train.”
He praised the airport’s “phenomenal” facilities and its increasing capacity.
But quizzed on if and when the Government would be ready to invest in the region’s airport, he said he was “rather reluctant to put a timescale on that decision”.
“We have to look at other airports and priorities as well,” he said. “But I have recognised the issue of surface connectivity at Leeds Bradford. There is a study ongoing and it will depend on the price tag, the deliverability and planning issues.
“But business leaders, council leaders and local MPs make it very clear to me that they see this as a priority we need to look at. I have come here today.
“If it wasn’t something we are taking seriously, I would not have.”
John Parkin, chief executive of the airport, said connection issues had been driving the regional debate on transport planning for a while.
He said the fact the Minister was visiting the region and speaking to stakeholders on the issue “tells you much”.
“Whilst no one can say what the outcome of major piece of national work will be, we are getting attention, and that’s important,” he said.
Terminal Passengers at Leeds Bradford airport:
Earlier, in 2012:
Leeds Bradford Airport rail link ‘to happen’
Leeds Bradford Airport has announced an £11m building programme to improve passenger facilities
Plans for a rail link at Leeds Bradford Airport should happen in the next 10 years, the leader of Leeds City Council has said.
Improving public transport to the airport from cities and towns forms part of a £1bn upgrade of the transport infrastructure across West Yorkshire.
Councillor Keith Wakefield said: “I’m optimistic we’ll put something there in the next five to 10 years.”
Other improvements could see an expansion of the trolleybus scheme.
Mr Wakefield said: “Although you could improve the roads I think the key to all this improvement is through public transport investment.
“I think we’ve got to have a good offer to get people out of cars.
“Most people will go to Leeds Bradford Airport by car or by taxi and I think what you need to do is put a significant public transport option on for people to take that choice.”
Plans for the rail link are expected to be discussed by councillors later as they meet to debate the £1bn transport fund.
Earlier, in 2011:
New Leeds Bradford Airport rail link planned for spring 2012
7 November 2011 (Yorkshire Evening Post)
A new rail link for Leeds Bradford Airport could get the provisional go-ahead as soon as spring next year, the YEP can reveal.
Harrogate Chamber of Commerce has asked Transport Secretary Teresa Villiers for a decision, in principle, on a proposed new rail system connecting Leeds, Harrogate and York.
The plans include a new station – Leeds International Airport Parkway – based near the Bramhope Tunnel, between Horsforth and Weeton, which would connect to the airport by a park and ride scheme. New stations with park and ride schemes are also being put forward for Pool, Butterskye Bar and Arthington.
If Ms Villiers agrees in principle, it is hoped detailed costings and other design work could begin in earnest.
Brian Dunsby, chief executive at the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce, told the Yorkshire Evening Post the new system would bring massive benefits to the region.
He said: “It has massive economic consequences for the region.”
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Mr Dunsby added: “The airport is poorly served by rail and we need to improve connections from towns like Harrogate and Leeds.”
The Chamber’s plan also involves electrifying the line – putting in a ‘third rail’ – and increasing the speed of the trains so that extra stations are possible without extending journey times.
The rail line would be serviced by reconditioned former London Underground trains when they are decommissioned in 2014.
However, the current plans fall short of those outlined in the airport’s own ‘masterplan’ which had envisaged the construction of a railway line north of the airport from the west, at Guiseley on the Wharfedale line, to the East, the Harrogate line between Horsforth and Weeton.
Leeds city councillor, Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) said: “The station would undoubtedly help the residents of Yeadon. There’s road congestion and many visitors park up and leave cars for weeks-on-end to avoid car parking charges at the airport. But we need to consider all options, the scheme proposes an electric third rail system and there may be problems getting other types of trains to run on it.“
Simon Bowen of Friends of the Earth gave the proposals a cautious welcome. He said: “We welcome the plans but the airport will remain a major traffic generator because it plans to increase passenger numbers to five million over the next five years.”
Harrogate Chamber of Commerce expects a decision on its outline proposal from the Department for Transport by Spring 2012.