Leeds Train Station will get a new entrance this year – but what will it mean for the city?
Leeds Train Station sees up to 100,000 people pass through every day and expects to see even more in the next few years, according to Metro. But with so many people coming and going through the same ticket gates, congestion has taken its toll. The new southern entrance hopes to solve this problem, adding access to the southern concourse with many additional facilities.
Why Do We Need A New Station Entrance?
Thousands of people make journeys to and from Leeds Train Station and with just one main ticket gate, this means an often frustrating exit for commuters. By 2029, Network Rail’s Northern Route Utilisation Strategy forecasts that there will be over thirty-nine million passenger journeys including interchanges, making commuting even more hectic.
According to Metro, Leeds Train Station is one of the busiest in England. Whilst access to and from the north concourse is easy with entrances to Princes Street and Wellington Street, it isn’t so straight forward when it comes to the south concourse.
Working together, Network Rail and Metro have proposed and begun the £17.4 million LSSE scheme which will create a southern entrance to alleviate passenger congestion at the ticket barrier line, as well as providing much needed access to the southern concourse platforms.
The new southern entrance is just the tip of the iceberg. The scheme predicts that passengers will be able to get to and from their trains faster, while increased traffic will help boost the southern area of Leeds city centre. With the generation of areas like Holbeck Urban Village, it’s hoped that this area will flourish.
What’s The Plan For LSSE?
Construction work started in January 2014, so you may already have seen the crane on the River Aire, with a safe working platform over the water. To make access to the work site easier, a loading site has been set up five hundred metres away from the LSSE site on Water Lane near Bridge End. This will allow materials to be transported via barge along the Aire and Calder Navigation.
At the Water Lane site lie the original historic arches, built by London North Western and North Eastern railways in 1869 as part of Leeds New Station. This station was built with wide arches over the River Aire as well as a wrought iron bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool canal basin, making it a more improved version of nearby Wellington Station.
For worker’s safety, the area has been levelled with the arches dismantled, which will be rebuilt after all works have been completed at the Water Lane site. The construction work has ten key stages which include initially constructing pier extensions, building the main deck in and outside the Dark Arches, and creating a footbridge over the east and west river banks.
Once this has been completed, the LSSE main building will be built over the River Aire, including the canopy and footbridge extension. Then, the final touches will be set in motion with electrical installation and external cladding, as well as making sure passenger services are in working order for the expected grand opening in spring 2015.
So, what will this new building look like? The new structure will be covered with a gold effect roof in a glass enclosure and will see the existing footbridge widened, which will connect platforms fifteen to seventeen, leading to the new southern entrance.
We caught up with a Network Rail spokesperson who told us that design played a key role in the new structure as “its unique shape, location and arrangement creates a spectacular and memorable piece of architecture clearly signing the new access to the station. Detail considerations also continue into the two wing bridges that provide clear legibility to the entrance and easy access from both east and west approaches”.
Thankfully, residents shouldn’t have many disruptions to their lives as construction works will be taking place during normal working hours – Monday through Friday from 7.30am to 7pm and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays.
So, How Will It Affect Leeds?
The main advantage of the LSSE scheme is that thousands of passengers will save time on their commutes. It’s estimated that up to 20,000 passengers will use the new southern entrance, which will help diminish congestion at the current ticket gates, saving passengers an average of 133 seconds on journeys.
You can look forward to better facilities too. A new upper level concourse will provide ticket machines, customer information screens as well as automated ticket barriers. Families with push chairs and people using wheelchairs will find easy access with the new escalators and lifts.
Of course, as the entrance will open up to the south of Leeds, you can expect easy access to and from Granary Wharf, Holbeck Urban Village, Bridgewater Place and other areas further afield. Along with more travellers and pedestrians flocking to this area, there are plans to create a pedestrianised plaza near Little Neville Street with land near the Blue Apartment buildings.
With more people coming to this area, the local economy is expected to get a much needed boost as a Network Rail spokesperson explained, “The enhanced footfall the new entrance will generate will propagate further value for the existing leisure businesses in Granary Wharf whilst supporting opportunities for new ventures and a broadening of the service offer in the area.”
And it’s not just the economy that will see a lift. “Two arches immediately adjacent to the new entrance at river level are being refurbished to be let following the opening of the entrance,” a Network Rail spokesperson told us, “The public space in Little Neville Street will be improved by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA)”.
Low height kerbs will make this a welcoming place for pedestrians, cyclists, and those with wheelchairs whilst restricting access to vehicles, making this a safe, secure pedestrian-friendly area. The only vehicles permitted will be those serving local businesses or properties. There’s more – cycling storage facilities will also be added.
Increased footfall around the southern area of the city, may mean more jobs too. A recent ‘Transport of Leeds’ study has estimated that city centre jobs will rise from 102,000 in 2009 up 18% to 108,000 in 2018 and 118,000 in 2030. Many of these new jobs will be created from increased traffic and exposure to the southern end of the city centre.
With a new train station entrance, improved customer facilities and the further development of key areas like the south side of the city, LSSE may just help drive our city in the right direction.