West Yorkshire transport bosses appeal to experts for suggestions on vital mass transit system

Kim Groves, who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee
Kim Groves, who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee

Transport bosses in West Yorkshire are appealing for experts from around the world to come forward with ideas for a mass transit system that could help the area reach its full economic potential.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority wants to hear from companies and consortia across the globe about the latest techniques and technologies that could help meet future transport needs.

The Leeds City Region - made up of West Yorkshire and surrounding boroughs - remains the largest metropolitan area in Europe without an urban transit system after years of failed attempts. During the campaign to become Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was 'madness' that Leeds doesn't have a mass transit system.

Officials are working with experts at the University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Railway Research and University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies to find possible workable solutions.

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Interested parties are being asked to consider a system with end-to-end routes of between 10km and 30km, with frequent city centre stops and stops every kilometre or so in other areas. Routes may need to run through pedestrian and heritage environments in city centres and urban areas.

Vehicles are expected to enable 200 to 300 people to get on or off at every stop and could be traditional light rail or tram train running on steel wheels, or bus rapid transit-based running on rubber tyres. They are expected to have an operational life of 20 to 30 years.

Among the respondents from which West Yorkshire Combined Authority hopes to hear are providers, promoters and operators of existing urban transit systems, industry suppliers, technology providers, system developers and urban transport vehicle and infrastructure manufacturers of from across the world.

Kim Groves, who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “The Leeds City Region economy is forecast to grow rapidly in the coming years, creating thousands of new jobs.

“There is no doubt that if the Leeds City Region is going to achieve its full economic potential while at the same time meeting the ambitious environmental goals we have set ourselves, we need a modern mass transit system to connect people quickly and cleanly with areas of growth.

“By undertaking this market testing with the Universities of Huddersfield and Leeds, we want to ensure that whatever form our mass transit system takes it reflects the most modern ideas, technologies and techniques in the world and enables the City Region to remain at the forefront of those technologies for many years to come.

“The Prime Minister has acknowledged our need for a rapid mass transit system and we look forward to hearing from him on how his government intends to support us in developing one.

"In addition to political support, this market testing process will secure the input of industry leaders and innovators to help us deliver a ground-breaking network from which people in all our towns, cities and communities can benefit.”

Expressions of interest to take part in the market engagement must email urbantransit@westyorks-ca.gov.uk by Thursday 31 October 2019 at 4pm BST (i.e.GMT + 1hr) at the latest. To ensure a level playing field for all contributors, there would then be a formal procurement process through a Prior Invitation Notice.

A prospectus and details of the market testing process are available at www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/urban-transit.