Tuesday 12 March 2024

It Leads To Leeds : Tramway Troubles

Politics & Public Transport (2)

There has always been a friendly rivalry between Sheffield and Leeds. (Maybe not always friendly when it comes to sport!). Leeds has a grander Town Hall (above) and, arguably a better railway station with an overall roof although not entirely over all!
It also has a Platform 0 ...
... or is it "Ob"? Or is it "Zero"?
And, at the back of fbb's usually (un)reliable brain, is the fact that there was once a Platform "W". Maybe that was somewhere else.

But Leeds didn't have a Supertram, like Sheffield.
But the city wanted just that!
Lines were proposed northbound to Headinglry and Bodington ...
... eastbound to Whinmoor and Grimes Dyke ...
... and southbound to Stourton Park and Ride ... 
... and to Tingley via the huge development at Middleton.
By today's standards the proposed trams look rather weedy!
The Leeds Supertram was a proposed light rail/tram system in Leeds and West Yorkshire in England. It would have been a three-line, 17-mile system with 50 stations. It received provisional government approval in 2001, and was specifically for corridors ill-served by the existing heavy rail network. Supertram would have been 75% funded from the public sector, with final contracts for construction and a 27-year operating concession due to have been awarded in 2003. By 2004, disquiet about rising costs had caused the scheme to be scaled back, and it was finally cancelled in 2005 by the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling.

One alternative to the tram was proposed by First Bus (don't laugh!) ...
... in the form of the FTR, a slick and memorable brand derived from the word FUTURE. And we all know what a huge success that was. The buses with too much technology were not a success and now languish in a shed somewhere, unused and unloved.

Just to be different, he route between Leeds and Bradford was branded "Hyperlink but it wasn't particularly "Hyper".
It seemed a good idea at the time. But it would NEVER be an alternative to a proper tram! One video on-line h=is headed "Extreme Slowness : Leeds Hyperlink".

Of course, Leeds used to have an extensive network of trams (click on the graphic for an enlargement) ...
... snd a taste of the system is given by this 1958 reprocessed film.
The star of the fleet was the very modern-looking 602, seen here at Crich Tramway Village.
Who knows how things might have turned out had the city introduced a fleet if these purple people eaters for the 1960s!

After the closure of the Leeds system on 7 November 1959, Sheffield became the last city in England operating trams (closing in 1960), with Glasgow (Scotland) the last in the UK (closing in 1962). The Blackpool tramway then became the UK's only commercial tramway, until the opening of the Manchester Metrolink in 1992.

It is argued that the closure of the tramway was shortsighted, particularly given the fact that the majority of the network ran on reserved track ...
... and as such did not interfere with the road system. Leeds had one of largest and most advanced urban transport systems in the UK, and was developing new tramcars and opening new lines right until its closure.

But nasty Mr Darling wouldn't cough up the cash for the Leeds Supertram proposals so Leeds had another go!
More in tomorrow's blog.

If you search on-line, somebody has even suggested that Leeds ought to have an Underground system, just like London.
fbb rather thinks that whoever offered this as a serious proposal has not done his sums!
But one can always dream!

 Next Trolleybus blog : Wednesday 13th March 


  1. Andrew Kleissner12 March 2024 at 07:35

    And the French think it's a new idea to have the tram rails embedded in grass!

  2. There was a platform W at Leeds for a while. The current Leeds station layout and roof dates back to 2001 when the station gained three new platforms (now 1, 2 and 3). It was possible to build the new platform 1 early - Indeed it's availability facilitated the 2001 construction work. However on its initial opening the station platforms were not renumbered, so the new platform was given the temporary "number" of W.

    Platform 0 was added to the station in 2021.