HS2

04.01.16

Leeds station southern entrance opens to public

The much-anticipated and highly complex Leeds Southern Station Entrance project has been opened by transport minister Andrew Jones today (4 January).

Located over the River Aire on the south side of the city’s station, the £20m entrance includes a new concourse, escalators, stairs and lifts to improve accessibility for the 20,000 daily commuters expected to use it.

The entrances provides a direct link to the city’s growing south bank area, opening up access to development areas and reducing the time it takes to catch trains by helping passengers avoid the loop around the station’s existing northern entrance.

As well as a “striking addition” to Leeds’ cityscape south of the station, the new entrance provides extra customer information screens, ticket machines and automated ticket gates that aid in reducing congestion and improving passenger experience.

Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “A significant proportion of the city-region’s 1.4 million workforce use Leeds station with a growing number of them wanting to head south when they arrive.

“The distinctive new southern entrance will save one in five of them up to 50 minutes on their weekly commute and will help to encourage development in an area which, as well as being home to Asda’s UK headquarters, is also the location of Eversheds, Ernst & Young and DWF’s regional HQs.”

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The complex two-year project was announced in October 2013, when the government – which poured £12.4m into the scheme – said the new entrance would see a new pedestrian entrance built and access to the southern side of the station to and from the existing platform footbridge secured.

RTM has closely followed the scheme’s progress ever since, speaking to Matthew Murr, senior project manager at Carillion, in May 2014 about the project’s updates. At the time, the scheme’s deadline, originally booked for March 2015, had been pushed by two months to May.

In July of last year, RTM visited the Leeds station site to speak to scheme project managers and project engineers from Carillion and Network Rail. At that point, the May deadline had been pushed to November 2015 instead.

Although this deadline has also been missed by two months, the project is notoriously ambitious, with its team building over water in an area constrained by apartment blocks on either side.

As well as benefitting from the new entrance, Leeds passengers have also recently learned that the city’s station will be transformed into a single integrated station for both classic and HS2 services rather than having two separate sites – although this decision will be finalised in autumn of this year.

The entrance opening also closely follows the Northern and TransPennine franchise awards, which are expected to do much in the way of enhancing capacity and improving rolling stock across the north of England.

As part of the ongoing devolution momentum, the city will also begin managing the franchises locally with the DfT.

Check out West Yorkshire Metro's timelapse footage of the southern entrance in its construction phase below:

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