Proposals for the reinstatement of trams or a light rail system in Leeds which were withdrawn in 1959 have been ongoing since the 1970s with various plans for varying light rail systems including ones which had planned partially or fully underground routes in the city centre. The cancelled plans mentioned in this article had dated back to the early 1990s.
The planned system included three lines, which were to have been:
- Line 1 (South Line), to Stourton and Tingley via Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton
- Line 2 (North Line), to Weetwood via the University of Leeds, Hyde Park and Headingley
- Line 3 (East Line), to Whinmoor via St James's Hospital, Harehills and Seacroft
All three lines would have met in central Leeds in a loop line running along The Headrow, Park Row, Boar Lane, Kirkgate and behind Kirkgate Market. The three lines were to have been the start of a wider system had seen plans for other tram lines to go from Leeds City Centre to Bradford via Armley, Bramley and Stanningley and a line from Leeds City Centre to Alwoodley via Chapeltown, Chapel Allerton and Moortown (the latter having been mentioned in the draft Leeds Unitary Development Plan).
Following long standing delays in attempting to gain funding throughout the 1990s due to rejections by the previous John Major administration, in 2002 Leeds was successful in acquiring central government funding for the construction of the scheme. Two consortia of Momentis (which included First Group, Bombardier Transportation, Bouygues and Jarvis Facilities) and Airelink (which included Arriva and Siemens Transportation Systems) had bid on the construction and operation of Leeds Supertram which was intended to have opened in 2007 or 2008. Preparation work on Leeds Supertram had started in 2003 where preparatory work was done at Leeds City Square and around the junction of the A61 South Accommodation Road and A639 Hunslet Road.
Project suspension and cancellationEdit
However work to construct the system that was due to start in earnest in 2004 was suspended because of costs that were originally £500 million had risen far above this level to figures around £1 billion. This had resulted in a cut back to the system that would have seen Line 1 only go from the city centre to the park and ride site at Stourton and this would have saved £250 million from the construction of the scheme and efforts were done to lower development costs along the other planned routes. However despite this in late 2005, Transport Minister Alistair Darling said that he would not give the go-ahead for the scheme, much to the anger and disappointment of many in Leeds and £40 million had already been spent into the development of the scheme. It remains the opinion of many in the city that the cancellation and the withdrawal of funding for similar schemes was a result of the 2012 Olympics bid, and the expected increased costs associated with that project, although this is denied by the Government. In addition to this, Leeds' long standing Labour council lost power in the local elections of 2005, to be replaced by a coalition between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, which many think further contributed to Mr. Darling's rejection of the plan.
Alternatives for the future of transport in Leeds are now being discussed, in particular a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, which the government claim can deliver some of the benefits of Supertram with lower capital costs due to unsegregated routes and greater flexibility but an on long term higher price (due to shorter live-durance of rolling stock). However, no system of this type has yet been delivered in the UK, which introduces an element of risk, although similar systems in the US have experienced lower ridership than comparable light rail lines. Another possibility currently being investigated by the local transport authority is a tram-train system. On such asystem trams are capable of running onto mainline railways, being either built to handle 25kV AC electrification or being partially diesel-powered (UK trams are electrified at 750V DC). 
- railway-technology.com. Leeds Supertram. Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
- Light Rail Transit Association. Proposed Leeds Supertram. Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
- Announcement of withdrawal of funding and new emphasis on BRT
- Summary of BRT study with links to full document
UK light rail systems