Leeds launches global search for ideas for overdue mass transit system

Authorities in West Yorkshire, England have launched a worldwide search for expertise to help develop a mass transit system for the Leeds City Region.

With a population of 3 million and an economy of £69.6bn (gross value added), the metropolitan area is the biggest in Europe without mass transit, they say, adding that there are nine EU countries with smaller economies.

Now, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority wants to hear from companies and consortia across the globe about the latest techniques and technologies.

It could be light rail, tram, or bus rapid transit, with routes of between 10km and 30km crossing the region and stops every kilometre or so.

Whatever the type of vehicle, 200 to 300 people should be able to get on and off at every stop.

Systems the authority admires include a trackless road-train in Zhuzhou, China, an autonomous tram in Potsdam, Germany, and a hydrogen fuel-cell tram in Qingdao, China.

The authority wants to hear from manufacturers, system developers and operators of the best urban transit systems. Also invited are academics, research institutions, city planners, engineering and construction companies and consultancies.

For this market testing exercise, the authority is working with the University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Railway Research and University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies.

In a press release today, the authority said it wants the system delivered by 2033 in order to benefit from other major infrastructure plans including High-Speed Rail 2 (HS2), currently under review, and another proposal called Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: "The Leeds City Region economy is forecast to grow rapidly in the coming years, creating thousands of new jobs.

"There is no doubt that if the Leeds City Region is going to achieve its full economic potential while at the same time meeting the ambitious environmental goals we have set ourselves, we need a modern mass transit system to connect people quickly and cleanly with areas of growth."

Interested parties must email [email protected] by Thursday 31 October 2019 at 4pm BST at the latest.

To ensure a level playing field for all contributors, there would then be a formal procurement process through a Prior Invitation Notice.

A prospectus and details of the market testing process are available here. 

Image: Tram in Potsdam, Germany, April 2018 (Mehman Ibragimov/CC BY-SA 4.0) 

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