Kirkstall Forge railway station secured an Economic Productivity Project Award at last week’s North of England Transport Award ceremony and the news comes hot on the heels of an announcement that there will be an additional five peak hour stops in the latest Northern Rail timetable.
Delivered as part of the Rail Growth Package, along with nearby Apperley Bridge station, and supported by private sector investment; Kirkstall Forge station has seen a 150 per cent increase in passenger numbers since it opened in June 2016.
Predicted annual passenger numbers were surpassed within the first five months of the station opening and almost 430 people are now using the service each day, with more than 35% walking or cycling to the station.
Jon Kenny, Development Director of CEG, said: “Kirkstall Forge railway station connects the site to Leeds City Station in just six minutes, as well as providing services to Bradford and onwards to Manchester and the Yorkshire Dales.
“It has opened up new transport opportunities for the local community, as well as the 10,000 residents, visitors and workers who will live, work and visit the site as it evolves over the next decade. With up to 1,000 staff moving into Number One Kirkstall Forge the 150 per cent increase in passenger numbers will undoubtedly rise again and we look forward to seeing more services announced in the coming year.”
Coun Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is a tremendous success story that reflects the benefits of innovative partnership working aimed at delivering the greatest benefits for people who live, work and do business in Leeds.
“Kirkstall Forge is a hugely exciting regeneration project and excellent transport links like this are key to making it work.”
Delivered in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, Network Rail and the DfT, the longstanding support of local MP, Rachel Reeves, has helped the scheme come to fruition.
Rachel Reeves MP said: “Kirkstall Forge is certainly boosting the local economy with hundreds of people now working on site. The train station is being well used and I am delighted that there are now going to be some additional trains at peak times.
“This follows lobbying by myself as well as Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority.
“However, we all know that there is much more to do, and we want to see trains stopping much more frequently. I will continue to lobby for more train services from next year, when the May timetable is announced.
“Having ample free parking, good access by foot and a regular train service will ensure the best deal for local people.”
The station has provided a catalyst for extensive economic benefits, connecting people to jobs and attracting businesses to this well connected location.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield said: “The Combined Authority and its partners opened an unprecedented three new rail stations, at Kirkstall Forge, Apperley Bridge, and Low Moor, in an 18-month period and I am delighted that this work to deliver major, transport schemes designed to support local economic growth has been recognised through this award. Kirkstall Forge station has far exceeded the forecast number of passengers using it and I was pleased to hear the recent news that additional trains will be calling there in the lifetime of the new timetable.”
CEG is leading the £400million Kirkstall Forge development. Zenith, CEG and Butlers bar/restaurant are the first occupiers in Number One Kirkstall Forge and it is now 70% let, with only 32,700 sq ft available.
The Kirkstall Forge development has a strong emphasis on sustainability and for employees who use public transport to arrive at work, cycle and scooter hire as well as shower facilities are also available at the building.
Ultimately, the development will include 1,050 new homes, 300,000 sq ft of offices and 100,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and community space.