WETHERBY MP Alec Shelbrooke is pushing ahead for rail links to the newly announced high speed network.
The Government has given the green light to a £32billion project to connect stations in Leeds, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and the East Midlands.
And now the MP, who is also the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Transport Minster, says it is time to get Wetherby re-connected.
“It takes us one step closer to securing new branch lines for Wetherby,” said Mr Shelbrooke this week.
Prior to his election, Mr Shelbrooke pledged to lobby for new rail links to the area and says he has since been in discussions and has had positive feedback in public meetings.
“Wetherby has no other public transport service other than buses.
“If people are to stop using their cars and use public transport then there needs to be the least resistance possible, therefore a rail link in Wetherby would create an easier alternative for residents to travel.
“At the moment they have to drive to the nearest train station at Garforth, Leeds, Harrogate or York.”
Despite admitting that funding such a project is “quite a way in the future” the MP continues to push the case of economic benefits for such a branch line in the hope of getting the government, network rail and private parties on track.
Mr Shelbrooke is a driving force in a scheme for 2030 vision for transport in Leeds.
“The idea of having the vision follows the example set by Newcastle and the Metro system,” said the MP.
“At the time of planning, they did not have the funds available, but by having a plan on the shelf ready for when funding became available, they got what they wanted rather than wasting time planning and ultimately missing out on all opportunities.
“This is the same, by having the plan in place, when high speed rail comes to our area we can take the planned argument forward for new branch lines.”
Wetherby’s rail links were lost in the sixties and added that the position of the branch lines would be an issue to discuss with town planners, residents and interested parties.
“As yet, we do not know the exact route of the high speed rail route as it leaves Leeds to head north so obviously branch lines would be determined by this.”
Joining the Chancellor, George Osborne on a tour of Leeds Station last Friday, Mr Shelbrooke said: “In the Department of Transport we see it as our role to get the economy moving and high speed rail helps us achieve this, not just across the country as a whole but specifically in Leeds and the North.”
Asked whether high speed rail is affordable in the current economic climate, Mr Shelbrooke added: “Leeds has seen no major investment to its rail infrastructure since the Victorian era.
“A high speed line delivers £6.2bn more of economic benefits than a line running at conventional speed so I think this is a great long term deal for our region.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer reaffirmed his commitment to invest in the North and promoting growth in the regional economy.
“Leeds is very important,” he said.
“It’s one of the greatest cities in Europe and it’s fantastic that we are going to be able to make these improvements to it.”
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