A revitalised train station is the next step in the city’s transport revolution.
As part of Leeds’ ongoing commitment to improving transport in and around the city, Leeds Rail Station is set to undergo its biggest transformation in years. Led by Leeds City Council and Network Rail, the ambitious project will see the pedestrianisation of New Station Street, the introduction of a brand new cycle hub and the rejuvenation of Neville Street. It all gets underway on Friday 19th May 2023 – here’s everything you need to know.
It will make New Station Street safer and more accessible
The first aim of the Leeds Station Sustainable Travel Gateway project is to transform New Station Street into a vibrant, pedestrianised space. Alongside outdoor seating and plenty of greenery, there will be digital information screens and easy access to Bishopgate Street – a big win for passengers using buggies or wheelchairs. New Station Street’s cafes, bars and restaurants will also able to apply for outdoor seating, giving the area an enticing, European feel.
Creating a car-free zone will make New Station Street safer and it’ll help transform the station’s main entrance. Behind Birmingham New Street, Leeds Station is the second-largest train station outside of London, servicing over 30 million passengers each and every year. A revitalised New Station Street will provide an attractive and welcoming outdoor space for commuters, visitors and locals alike, delivering a fitting first impression of our fine city.
It will make cycling easier for all
The next big addition is a brand new cycle hub. This sprawling facility will include hundreds of spaces for all manner of two-wheeled vehicles, including electric bikes, accessible bikes and standard bikes, providing a safe and secure space to leave your beloved bike while you go about your day. The hub will be open daily from 7am to 11pm, making it perfect whether you’re shopping, working or simply exploring the city. There will also be charging points for e-bikes.
There’s never been a better time to be a cyclist in Leeds. The brand new hub will link up with the new cycle pathways being installed by the council, which will connect the station to Park Row and beyond. By making cycling easier and more accessible, it edges the city closer to sustainability targets, encourages people to travel by greener methods and ultimately reduces our CO2 impact. After the success of the electric buses, it’s a big stride in the right direction.
It will give Neville Street a fresh new look
Following in the footsteps of the recent works to Dark Neville Street, Neville Street will now get a new lease of life. The vision is to turn it into a lighter and brighter area for passengers and people travelling through. The walls will get a lick of paint thanks to new colourful community-developed urban art designed by local artists. The result? A more accessible and appealing route into the station’s southern entrance.
Not only will the improvements help to make Neville Street a safer and more attractive route into the station, but it’ll also make the South Bank and its attractions more appealing, connecting them up with the rest of the city. What’s more, there are currently talks underway to extend the opening hours of the station’s southern entrance. If these plans get approved, it removes the need for passengers to walk all the way around after the entrance closes at 10pm.
It will improve passenger safety
These exciting transformations aren’t just for aesthetics. The project will allow for Network Rail to undertake essential safety repairs, strengthening one of the bridge structures outside the front of the station. The railway is built on historic arches and bridges across Leeds, which are now reaching an incredible 150 years old. Unsurprisingly, some of them now need to be upgraded and strengthened, in order to safely serve the railway and its passengers.
By undertaking the bridge strengthening works outside the front of the station at the same time as the wider Sustainable Travel Gateway project, it reduces the number and longevity of disruptions to the public. It’s also far more efficient and environmentally-friendly to complete the works at the same time, as both projects can make use of one shared team and one set of vehicles, helping to keep the carbon footprint of the work as low as possible.
You’ll need to plan ahead if you’re driving
While the project won’t cause any disruption within the station or affect any timetables, there are a number of things to take into consideration before you travel. First up, the licensed taxi rank will be moving to the Aire Street exit by Wetherspoons. Private hire cabs will now be picking up from the multi-storey long-stay car park behind Princes Exchange. Short stay will also move here. If you’re driving, you’ll be given a 10-minute grace period to allow for pick up and drop off.
In the long-term, the taxi rank will move to Bishopgate Street, making it safer, bigger and more accessible. As well as being able to take more cabs, there will also be a shelter with seating and CCTV. Rail replacement buses will move to Neville Street until the City Square works are complete. The final thing to note is that if you’re on foot, you won’t be able to turn left out of the the New Station Street exit – you’ll have to walk along the other side of New Station Street or use the exit opposite the Majestic.
What does this mean for the city?
As the gateway to the North, Leeds Station is one of the most integral parts of the city, and it’s getting more popular by the day. Passenger numbers have hit and exceeded pre-Covid levels, and projected figures estimate that 56 million passengers will be travelling in and out of the station by 2030. By transforming New Station Street and the exterior of the station, it helps us give a proper Yorkshire welcome to the increased number of people visiting the city.
All of the improvements are being completed for an overall greater cause, helping to improve sustainability while making public transport and cycling much easier for the people of Leeds. From a holistic point of view, the changes will make the city centre more connected, more accessible and a lot more welcoming. The council and Network Rail understand that while works can be frustrating, patience is key, as the finished outcome will benefit us all.Cover image credit: Leeds City Council