Leeds Bradford airport connectivity consultation starts in new year

Leeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport
Public consultation and engagement on proposals to improve transport connectivity to Leeds Bradford Airport and in the north west of Leeds is to take place in the new year.

Senior figures on Leeds City Council are considering proposals to improve road and rail access to the airport to support its future growth, as well as job creation in the area and addressing current congestion issues in north west Leeds.
Leeds Bradford Airport supports more than 5,000 jobs and contributes £336m to the city region economy each year, and its passenger numbers are expected t rise to more than nine million by 2050.

The city council is working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Bradford Airport and key stakeholders has put forward the following key investment proposals:
– Improving road access through one of three options, building a new LBA Link Route a) From the A65 running along the eastern side of the airport before joining the A658; b) From the A65 running to the south west of the airport before joining the A658; or c) Upgrading existing junctions on the A65 and A658 in Rawdon and Yeadon along with localised road widening
– 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
– Releasing 36 hectares of land next to the airport for employment growth and job creation in north west Leeds

The three LBA Link Route road proposals, which were shortlisted following an analysis of a range of possible options, were first announced at the end of 2015. An initial public consultation on them resulted in feedback which focused on calls for improved rail access to the airport rather than road improvements. Other concerns raised were around the lack of detail given, the need to tackle local congestion issues and environmental factors.
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.

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. From looking at other regional airports, such as Manchester Airport which has direct rail and tram links, 84 per cent of passengers still travel to the airport by car or taxi. Therefore a combination of both road and rail access improvements is considered essential to supporting the growth of Leeds Bradford Airport.

In response to the issues raised in the initial road links consultation, a range of junction and capacity improvements are being considered to tackle congestion and improve journey time in the area.

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

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said: “The latest figures from regional airports including Manchester show that 84% 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 Bradford Airport is already a huge economic asset for the Leeds City Region and the link road and parkway station plans will form part of a further benefits package to support the local area by connecting to the proposed LBA Employment Hub. I would urge as many people as possible to take part in the upcoming public engagement so to help shape both schemes as they progress.”