The transformation of Leeds City Station’s main entrance is reaching its next milestone, with demolition works coming towards the end and construction due to begin in earnest in the New Year.

The Leeds City Station Sustainable Travel Gateway scheme is being delivered at the same time as essential maintenance work by Network Rail to reinforce the underground structure below New Station Street, which supports much of the station above it.

The previous cycle hub and rotunda steps outside the station have been demolished and a total of 13 iron beams – each weighing as much as 40 tonnes – are being removed to access a huge underground space known as the Mill Goit, a man-made channel off the River Aire which took the stream to power a nearby mill. When the station was originally built in 1869, New Station Street was built as a bridge over the Mill Goit.

Piling works are now beginning which will allow for the Mill Goit to become home to the station’s new high-quality cycle hub, and for wider construction to begin. This includes the two passenger lifts providing access between New Station Street and Bishopgate Street, and the pedestrian improvements which will create a much-improved and more people-friendly gateway to the city centre.

Delivering the Sustainable Travel Gateway scheme in tandem with the maintenance works will reduce longer-term disruption and provide value for money by reducing the need for further works at a later date.

The £46.1m Sustainable Travel Gateway scheme is being delivered by Leeds City Council on behalf of Network Rail as the landowner, and in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The scheme is funded and being delivered through the Combined Authority’s Transforming Cities Fund programme, which is aimed at making it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport.

This week colleagues from the Combined Authority, Leeds City Council and Network Rail were given a tour of the works by constructor partner Balfour Beatty.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and sustainable development, said: “It’s amazing to see the scale of work involved in delivering these schemes, which will create a safer and more people-friendly gateway between the station, the city centre and the wider south bank.

“We thank everyone for their patience as we work towards construction continuing into the new year, and completion in 2025.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said: “Leeds station is one of the busiest in the country and is at the heart of the national rail network, linking up destinations across West Yorkshire and beyond.

“These works are laying the foundation for a fantastic gateway to the city – which is better-connected, more people-friendly and can accommodate growing rail passenger numbers.

“What we want to see next is a commitment from the government to a station fit for the next 100 years, so that we can continue to grow our economy, boost connectivity and tackle the climate emergency.”

Anna Weeks, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s North & East route, said: “For the first time in a generation, light shines into Mill Goit under the front of Leeds station. Our teams are working incredibly hard to turn this piece of history into a sustainable, accessible, passenger-focused gateway to the city’s railway station.

“This is just one of the improvement projects that Network Rail is carrying out at Leeds station to improve passengers’ experience as they travel by train in the years to come.”

Paul Buchanan, Balfour Beatty’s Project Manager, said: “Today marks yet another milestone in the transformation of Leeds City Station, with demolition works nearing completion.

“We now look forward to starting main construction, working closely with Leeds City Council, Network Rail and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, to bring the new gateway to life and provide an accessible and vibrant new link between the station and the wider city centre.”

The Sustainable Travel Gateway scheme will create a much improved and more people-friendly environment that can accommodate growing rail passenger number and ensure people can enter and exit the station safely.

The scheme will see:

New Station Street pedestrianised, including the section which meets Boar Lane, with outdoor seating, rest areas, and landscaping.

The taxi rank located to Bishopgate Street with a large and well-lit shelter and room for six vehicles, allowing for kerb-side boarding to help people with wheelchairs or assistance dogs to board more easily.

Two 21-passenger lifts from Bishopgate Street to the station entrance on New Station Street, providing step-free access between the two streets.

A high-quality cycle hub with electric charging points and storage for all types of cycles.

Environmental improvements to Neville Street and Dark Neville Street including enhanced lighting and road surfaces. Works on the east side of Neville Street have been completed, with works on the west side of Neville Street and Dark Neville Street currently on-site. Once completed, these will offer safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

Installing high quality cycle infrastructure on Bishopgate Street and Neville Street.