Rail minister Wendy Morton has commended the completed Leeds Station upgrades as a “major milestone” in delivering a modern, fully connected transport hub.
Visiting Leeds Station to see the £161m of upgrade works, the minister met former apprentices and senior staff of Network Rail responsible for delivering key upgrades to the Transpennine Route.
Her visit follows the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), a £96bn programme of investment targeted at transforming rail connections across the North and Midlands.
Wendy said: “Leeds station is a major hub right at the heart of the North, not only a gateway to one of the UK’s most vibrant and lively cities but a vital transport link enabling people from all over the country to travel for work, pleasure and connect with friends and family.
“These upgrades are a huge milestone making these journeys even easier, providing passengers with more seats, more services and more punctual journeys all while building upon our unprecedented Integrated Rail Plan.”
Improvements enabled by the IRP include full electrification to York, and of the Calder Valley line between Bradford and Leeds, cutting journey times to as little as 12 minutes.
James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is an important milestone in our continued ambitions to modernise Leeds’ rail connections to make them fit to support what is one of the fastest-growing economies with the busiest railway station in the north of the UK.
Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport said that expanding and improving the rail network will be key to reducing carbon emissions and will help cities to thrive.
"The upgrades at Leeds station will enable more people to travel by rail and make journeys more reliable, an important step towards a greener transport future,” he said.
The improvements at Leeds are the subject of a film made by Network Rail in 2020 that claims the Leeds project “would have helped prepare the city for the arrival of HS2 [High Speed 2]”.
The Integrated Rail Plan revealed that the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds has been scrapped apart from a short route northeast from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway.
Meanwhile, plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail will also see services reaching Manchester from Leeds in 33 minutes.