Leeds City Council prepares public consultation on improved rail access to the airport

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Leeds airport rail map

UK: Leeds City Council will call for public consultation to improve road and rail access to the airport.

Leeds Bradford Airport is a key economic asset for Leeds and the wider region, supporting over 5,000 jobs and contributing £336million to the city region economy each year. It is one of the fastest-growing airports in the UK, with passenger numbers predicted by the Department for Transport to rise from four million in 2017 to 7.1million by 2030 and over nine million by 2050.

To support this expected growth at the airport and to support job creation in the wider north west Leeds, the council working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Bradford Airport and key stakeholders has put forward some key investment proposals, including a new airport parkway rail station, located on the existing Leeds-Harrogate Line, with a short connecting spur road to the airport to provide a shuttle bus connection similar to that at Luton Airport. This would also serve as a park and ride service for destinations on the Leeds-Harrogate Line and beyond.

Improving rail access to the airport has long been an ambition for Leeds, but the location of Leeds Bradford Airport and its topography meant any direct rail connection would be very difficult to achieve and would be prohibitively expensive.

According to the Council, the potential for a parkway station nearby to serve the airport by rail and both Leeds and Harrogate has now come about as part of the Connecting Leeds transport strategy, with the city receiving funding of £173.5m from the government to invest in transport network improvements.

Offering rail connectivity to the airport does not, however, remove the need for better road access.

“The latest figures from regional airports including Manchester show that 84 per cent of passengers travel to the airport by car or taxi despite there being direct rail links. Therefore, as Leeds Bradford Airport continues to grow, it is vital that we look at ways to alleviate increased traffic on the road network in north west Leeds as well as plans for a rail connection, Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said.

All of the key details on the proposals to be considered together will be available in the consultation, to take place early in 2019.