Global expertise sought for Leeds City Region mass transit system

Ideas and experience from companies & consortia across the globe about the latest techniques and technologies could help meet the City Region’s future transport needs.

Ideas and experience from across the world are being sought for the development of a mass transit system for the Leeds City Region. 

With a population of three million and an economy of £69.6 billion GVA, the Leeds City Region remains the largest metropolitan area in Europe without an urban transit system.  

Now, the Combined Authority has started developing proposals for an advanced Leeds City Region system that supports its priorities of raising productivity, delivering inclusive growth and addressing the climate emergency through clean growth.  

Acknowledged experts

Working with acknowledged experts in the field, the University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Railway Research and University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies, the Combined Authority wants to hear from companies and consortia across the globe about the latest techniques and technologies that could help meet the City Region’s future transport needs.

The views of promoters, manufacturers, suppliers, constructors, engineers, system developers and operators of the best urban transit systems across the world are being sought. Through this market testing process, West Yorkshire Combined Authority aims to develop initial designs for an advanced urban transit system that can be delivered by 2033 and which ensures the whole of the Leeds City Region can benefit from major infrastructure investment including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Pedestrian and heritage environments   

Organisations and individuals responding to the market testing are being asked to consider a system with end-to-end routes of between 10 and 30km, with frequent city centre stops and stops every kilometre or so in other areas. Routes, they are being told, could run through pedestrian and heritage environments in city centres and urban areas. 

Vehicles are expected to enable 200 to 300 people to get on/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. 

World-wide bus companies, including those already operating within West Yorkshire, academia and research institutions, city planners, engineering and construction companies and consultancies are also being invited to take part.

Ambitious environmental goals 

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of 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 to 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 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 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 groundbreaking network from which people in all our towns, cities and communities can benefit.” 

How to apply

Expressions of interest to take part in the market testing are now being invited by email to urbantransit@westyorks-ca.gov.uk by Thursday 31 October 2019 at 4pm BST.

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. 

Transport challenges 

Cllr Groves added: “Mass transit is not a solution to all the transport challenges and there are some parts of our region that it won’t serve.  

 “The Combined Authority recognises this and is already investing in better transport across the region through the £1 billion West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, £270 million Connecting Leeds programme and the £60 million CityConnect cycling and walking programme. These and other initiatives are supporting better public transport, new roads, improved access to the rail network and providing better and safer ways to walk and cycle.”