In a groundbreaking move to overhaul West Yorkshire’s transportation network, Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, has revealed plans for a new tram system connecting Leeds and Bradford. The comprehensive proposals were disclosed today in anticipation of the final Combined Authority meeting on March 14, just ahead of the upcoming Mayoral election in May.

The unveiled mass transit scheme marks a significant advancement for the region, with construction set to commence in 2028 for the initial phase. The ambitious project envisions two primary lines – the Leeds Line and the Bradford Line – laying the foundation for enhanced connectivity in the area.

The Leeds Line is slated to traverse from St James’ Hospital through Leeds city centre, extending to Elland Road and the White Rose Shopping Centre. Simultaneously, the Bradford Line will link Leeds city centre with Bradford city centre, also integrating Bradford Forster Square station with the new Bradford rail station. This strategic line alignment aligns with Bradford’s broader plans to rejuvenate its southern gateway.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said; “Today is a key milestone in our plan to create a better-connected region that works for all. By setting out our plans to submit to the government, we are taking a major step forward towards the biggest infrastructure project West Yorkshire has seen since the development of the motorways six decades ago.

“This will be transformational for the North, helping our communities to thrive and our economy to flourish – benefitting generations to come with greater opportunity and prosperity.

“We know that mass transit systems have successfully helped to regenerate areas right across the country by boosting connectivity, opportunity and prosperity – and we will work tirelessly to make sure that happens here in West Yorkshire.”

The Combined Authority, in collaboration with Kirklees Council, is exploring the inclusion of a Dewsbury Line in future phases. Tracy Brabin reassured the public that efforts will be made to ensure that no part of West Yorkshire is left behind, with plans to extend the mass transit network to Wakefield, Kirklees, and Calderdale.

The next step involves submitting the Combined Authority’s “strategic outline case” document to the Department for Transport on March 14. Pending approval, the Mayor will forward the document to the government, initiating the development phase. The exact route, subject to full public consultation, remains undisclosed.

Public engagement will be sought in the summer to gather input on potential routes, with the Leeds and Bradford lines anticipated to be augmented by additional schemes covering the broader region. Additionally, a £1 million mass transit development fund will support the Dewsbury Line Development Project, aiming to enhance connectivity between Kirklees and Leeds.

The mass transit system is set to integrate seamlessly with existing transport modes, including bus, rail, cycling, and walking, forming a key component of an integrated transport system for the region.

Leader of Bradford Council Susan Hinchcliffe said; “West Yorkshire is currently the biggest region in the country without a mass transit system. These tram proposals are part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for comprehensive new transport links, which will undoubtedly enhance people’s lives.

“We are already making good progress on developing plans for better rail transport nationally for Bradford, and this exciting new mass transit system supports our aim to connect Bradford more widely across West Yorkshire and also to connect the two Bradford city centre stations.”

Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said; “Mass transit will transform transport across our city and the wider region, helping to boost our economy and bringing our communities within easier reach of jobs and leisure opportunities.

“This is an important step forward in delivering mass transit, but there is still much to do and we are committed to working with the Combined Authority and our partners so this can be achieved for the benefit of people across West Yorkshire.”