Major investment in Leeds is set to continue after schemes to improve both train journeys and the look and feel of the station were announced.
A new platform – platform zero – will be the crowning glory of a significant £161m investment in the rail infrastructure that will also see improvements to the track alignment for more efficient journeys into platforms 1-6, as well as a major upgrade to the signalling across the entire station, in a boost to train service reliability. Platforms 1-6 will also be altered to cater for longer trains with more seats.
Another major project, funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, will see the partial pedestrianisation of New Station Street to ease congestion and improve the flow of people at the entrance of the station, with construction set to begin early next year.
The latest two announcements come hot on the heels of last month’s announcement that the dark, tired wooden ceiling panels in the South Concourse are to be replaced by a transparent, plastic roof that will allow natural light to flood the station – which is England’s second busiest outside of London.
The installation of scaffolding towers in the South Concourse starts next week and will continue until Christmas, when the removal of the existing roof will begin. Passengers are advised that space in the concourse will be reduced during the construction, and so should try to allow extra time to make their way through to the platforms or use the Southern Entrance via Dark Neville Street.
To allow space for platform zero, the number of long stay car parking spaces at Leeds will be reduced in phases from December this year until May 2019, when the long stay car park will close completely until the platform is built in 2021, with Network Rail working alongside Leeds City Council to promote alternative parking sites. Just over 100 spaces of the current 400 will be reduced by early January with the number of spaces reduced further between March and May in 2019. Contract car park spaces will remain in place.
Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Together this trio of projects are the biggest investment in the station since Leeds First in the early 2000s, and I am delighted that they will start delivering benefits for passengers and the city as early as next autumn.
“There will inevitably be changes to peoples’ usual walking routes and routines during construction and we will do everything we can to keep people moving efficiently and safely, in eager anticipation of a noticeably improved station upon completion.”