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Leeds railway station - Wikipedia

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Leeds railway station (also known as Leeds City railway station)[1][2][3][4] is the mainline railway station serving the city centre of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. It is the fourth-busiest railway station in the UK outside London (as of March 2020).[5] It is located on New Station Street to the south of City Square, at the bottom of Park Row, behind the landmark Queens Hotel. It is one of 20 stations managed by Network Rail.[5]

Leeds is an important hub on the British rail network. The station is the terminus of the Leeds branch of the East Coast Main Line (on which London North Eastern Railway provides high speed inter-city services to London King's Cross every half hour from the station) and is an important stop on the Cross Country Route between Scotland, the Midlands and South West England connecting to major cities such as Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Derby, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance. There are also regular inter-city services to major destinations throughout Northern England including Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield. It is also the terminus for trains running on the scenic Settle to Carlisle Line. Future expansion will link the station to the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) network.

Leeds is a major hub for local and regional destinations across Yorkshire such as to York, Scarborough, Hull, Doncaster and Sheffield. The station lies at the heart of the Metro commuter network for West Yorkshire providing services to Bradford, Wakefield, Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Halifax.

With over 31 million passenger entries and exits between April 2019 and March 2020, Leeds is the second busiest railway station in the North of England after Manchester Piccadilly and the fourth-busiest railway station in the United Kingdom outside London, after Birmingham New Street, Glasgow Central and Manchester Piccadilly.


The North Concourse (Wellington Quarter) by William Henry Hamlyn dating from 1937/38 - The shops on the right were previously platform entrances

The 6-foot high 'LEEDS' letters inside the main entrance to the station

The railway station is situated on a hill falling from the south of the city to the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal basin. Much of it is supported on Victorian brick-vaulted arches situated just off Neville Street which contain a centre consisting of cafés, restaurants, shops and exhibition spaces called Granary Wharf, known locally as the Dark Arches.

The railway station has 18 platforms, making it the largest by number of platforms in England outside London. There are 12 terminus and six through platforms. Most platforms are subdivided into up to four sections, i.e. 1a, 1b, 1c etc. Altogether, including the numbers, there are 47 platforms.[6] Retail facilities in the station include coffee shops, fast food outlets, a bar, newsagents, chemists and supermarkets. A British Transport Police station on New Station Street houses officers who police the West Yorkshire railway stations.

Leeds railway station retained manned ticket barriers through the 1990s until 2008, when they were replaced by automatic barriers by Northern to reduce congestion around the barriers at peak times.[2][7]


Platform usage varies depending on operational circumstances but is generally:

Transport links[edit]

The Western Entrance into the railway station.

Leeds Interchange, located at the New Station Street exit, provides onward transport connections from the station. There are five bus stands serving Arriva, First and Flyer routes 1, 4, 4F, 5, 14, 16, 16A, 19, 19A, 40, 444, 446, 870, A1 and DalesBus services 874 and 875. A 24-hour taxi rank also operates at the interchange.

Further bus stops are located on Neville Street below the railway station, as well as around City Square outside the railway station. Infirmary Street and Boar Lane bus points are a short walk for more bus connections.

Cycle hub[edit]

Leeds Interchange hosts one of the UK's first cycle hubs that allows a number of cycling services including repair, storage and rental. The facility opened in summer 2010 and is designed to encourage visitors and commuters into Leeds to continue their journey from the railway station by bike.[8] Its design is based on the Dutch cyclepoint concept.[9]


Past railway stations[edit]

Neville Street passes under the railway station

Railway lines in central Leeds in 1913

The river Aire and Southern station entrance

The railway station seen in 1974

A trolley point showing the historical name of 'Leeds City' after the 2002 rebuilding

The railways arrived in Leeds in 1834, when the Leeds and Selby Railway (which became part of the North Eastern Railway) opened its line. It had a terminus at Marsh Lane east of the city centre. In 1840, the North Midland Railway (a constituent of the Midland Railway) constructed its line from Derby via Rotherham to a terminus at Hunslet Lane to the south. It was extended to a more centrally located terminus at Wellington Street in 1846, known as Wellington Station.[10]

Another railway station, Leeds Central (on Wellington Street), was opened in 1854 by the Manchester and Leeds Railway and the London and North Western Railway, or LNWR. The railway station became owned jointly by the LNWR and the North Eastern Railway, but other companies had powers to run trains there, including the Great Northern Railway and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.[11]

In 1869, New Station opened as a joint enterprise by the LNWR and the North Eastern Railway. It connected the former Leeds and Selby Railway Line to the east with the LNWR lines to the west. A mile-long connection was built, carried entirely on viaducts and bridges. New Station was built partially on a bridge over the River Aire, adjacent to Wellington railway station. The arches created under the station are known as 'The Dark Arches'.[12]

The map to the right shows the variety of different railway lines in Leeds in 1913. Following the 1921 Railways Act, when railways in Great Britain were grouped into four companies, New Station was jointly operated by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).[10]

1938 rebuilding[edit]

Leeds City South Station: west end, in 1961

The first rationalisation occurred in 1938, when two railway stations (New and Wellington) were combined to form Leeds City Station, opening on 2 May that year. This was designed by LMS architect William Henry Hamlyn. The third railway station, Leeds Central, was unaffected by the change. Part of Wellington railway station later became a parcels depot. The north concourse and the Queens Hotel were built at this time.

Leeds Blitz[edit]

In March 1941, the Luftwaffe launched attacks on Leeds, Armley, Beeston and Bramley. Leeds New Station was one of the primary targets, along with the Town Hall, Kirkgate Markets, the Central Post office, the Quarry Hill flats, Hotel Metropole and part of the Inner Ring Road. The station was bombed, causing an unknown number of casualties, and was later rebuilt.

The Transport Act 1947 nationalised nearly all forms of mass transport in Great Britain and came into effect on 1 January 1948.[13] British Railways came into existence as the business name of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission (BTC) on 1 January 1948.

1962 British Railways House[edit]

In 1962 British Railways House, now City House, was added to the railway station. It was designed by architect John Poulson providing British Railways with administrative buildings. The building became dated and hard to let before refurbishment in 2009. The building was lambasted in 1967 by poet John Betjeman who said it blocked all the light out of City Square, and was a testament to money with no architectural merit. In 2010 the building was bought by property company Bruntwood which is (as of 2017) redeveloping it to provide serviced offices, with a new look to the façade.

1967 rebuilding[edit]

In 1967 further remodelling of the site took place and trains using Central Railway Station were diverted into the City Railway Station which became the main railway station serving the city. Central Railway Station was closed and has been demolished. The viaduct leading to Central Railway Station is one of many disused viaducts near Leeds Railway Station. Engineering work included replacing 100-year-old bridges over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the construction of the south concourse & an overall roof, along with major platform and track layout alterations and the commissioning of a new power signal box to control the railway station area.

At the time of this rebuilding, the railway station was served by 500 trains on a typical day, with 2.75 million passenger journeys a year. Wellington (or City North) became entirely devoted to parcels traffic at this time with the track layout extensively changed. The remaining Midland line trains which previously used City North station were diverted into the City South station, the former LNWR/NER 'New' station, and called simply Leeds from this time.


The station had overhead electrification installed under the ownership of British Rail in 1988, to facilitate usage of the new Class 91 services on the East Coast main line.[14]

2002 rebuilding[edit]

By the 1990s, the railway station's capacity was exceeded on a daily basis, and the 1967 design was deemed inadequate. Between 1999 and 2002, a major rebuilding project took place, branded as Leeds 1st. This project saw the construction of additional approach tracks at the western end of the railway station, improving efficiency by separating trains travelling to or from different destinations and preventing them from having to cross each other's routes. The railway station was expanded from 12 to 17 platforms, with the construction of new platforms on the south side, and reopening of the disused parcels depot to passengers on the north side.

The majority of the track, points and signals were also replaced and the 1967 power box closed - control being handed over to the signalling centre at York. The most visible change to passengers, however, was the replacement of the 1967 metal canopy with a new glass roof, considerably increasing the amount of daylight on the platforms. A new footbridge was also provided, replacing the previous underpass. Ancillary improvements included a new multi-storey car park and railway station entrance, refurbishing the North Concourse and expanding retail facilities.

A small temporary railway station called Leeds Whitehall was provided to handle some services while the railway station was being remodelled. This was used between September 1999 and February 2002.[15]

2008 work[edit]

In 2008 automated ticket gates were installed in place of the human-controlled ticket checking, to speed up the passage of passengers. When the gates came into operation at the end of October 2008 they suffered from several faults including accepting expired tickets.[16] An oversight on the part of Northern also meant that the gates were not compatible with West Yorkshire Metro Cards.[17]

Southern entrance[edit]

A £17.3 million southern entrance to allow for easier access from the south completed on 3 January 2016.[18][19] It widens the railway station's western footbridge and provide escalators, stairs and lifts to a partial deck over the River Aire in an iconic structure. The deck provides access to either side of the river for passengers to access Granary Wharf and Little Neville Street or Holbeck. It contains extra ticket vending machines and cycle storage. Around 20%[18] of passengers are expected to use the new entrance.[20][21]

South concourse and platform zero[edit]

Work on a new terminal platform alongside platform 1 (labelled platform 0) began in late 2018 and was completed in January 2021.[22][23]

In November 2018 Network Rail began work to improve the south concourse. The first phase of works aimed to reduce congestion by moving and expanding ticket barriers. A new transparent roof was installed, matching the design at the Southern entrance, with works completed in October 2019.[24][25]

Accidents and incidents[edit]


Leeds City railway station is the third-busiest railway station outside London in England;[29] being a very busy railway station, expansion is needed. Passenger numbers at Leeds are expected to surge by 63% by 2029, meaning further expansion is necessary.[30]

Future Remodelling[edit]

In October 2017, it was proposed that the station could be remodelled for the proposed HS2 scheme. The proposal includes new platforms on the northside of Leeds as well as HS2 services running into the existing east-west platforms as well as the proposed terminal platforms allowing links to proposed 'Northern Powerhouse Rail'.[31] In November 2017, details were released about how the station might look.[32]


Plans are being drawn up to expand the railway station's capacity with new lines and platforms alongside platform one in the Riverside Car Park on the site of the original Leeds Wellington railway station to cater for predicted growth. Also Metro announced plans to replace platform 1 with three separate platforms using the car park next to it. This would increase platform numbers from 17 to 20.

Future service[edit]

In June 2014, Network Rail accepted Alliance Rail t/a Great North Western Railway Company (GNWR) to operate services between London Euston and Leeds via Warrington Bank Quay and Huddersfield with six services per day in both directions. The services were proposed to start in 2017 using Pendolino trains.[33][34] However, in January 2015 the proposed services were rejected.

London North Eastern Railway plan to operate direct services between London King's Cross and Huddersfield via Leeds from 2020 .[35]

As part of the new Arriva Rail North franchise, from May 2019 there will be a new hourly service to Chester, calling at Bradford Interchange, Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay.[36] Originally planned for December 2017[37] the introduction has been delayed for operational reasons. New services between Halifax and Hull will also be introduced and those to Nottingham will be re-routed via Wakefield Westgate rather than via Barnsley (saving 20+ minutes' journey time) and extended to/from Bradford Interchange. There will also be new direct services to Lincoln via Barnsley and Worksop.[38] These new routes will be marketed under the "Northern Connect" brand and use new DMUs.

HS2 platforms[edit]

A graphical mockup showing how new HS2 platforms (blue) will be joined to the existing Leeds station platforms (pink).

The original plans for HS2 proposed a separate new station in Leeds to the south of the River Aire at New Lane.[39][40] However, a later review in November 2015 instead recommends that HS2 platforms be added to the existing station.[41] These would attach to the southern part of the existing station building, and span the river in a north-south alignment to create a 'T' shape.

Whilst not directly linking the rail lines, it will allow a common concourse for easy interchange between high speed and classic rail services. These plans were approved by the Government in November 2016.[42][43]


The railway station is served by train operators, London North Eastern Railway, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express, Northern and East Midlands Railway. It is also the hub of the MetroTrain network in West Yorkshire, being the terminus of the following lines:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Leeds Station". Network Rail Virtual Archive. Network Rail. 7 March 2012. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Leeds Railway Station". Railway-Technology. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Automatic ticket gates at Leeds City Station".
  4. ^ "leedsliveitloveit". leedsliveitloveit. Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Commercial information". Our Stations. London: Network Rail. April 2014. Archived from the original on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  6. ^ Yonge, John (September 2006) [1994]. Jacobs, Gerald (ed.). Railway Track Diagrams 2: Eastern (3rd ed.). Bradford on Avon: Trackmaps. map 37A. ISBN 0-9549866-2-8.
  7. ^ "Travel Tools - Automatic ticket gates". Northern Rail. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Bicycle hire and storage scheme opens at Leeds Station". BBC Leeds and West Yorkshire. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b Dawson, Anthony (2018). The early railways of Leeds. Stroud. ISBN 978-1-4456-6781-2. OCLC 1064104121.
  11. ^ Measom J. (1861) Official illustrated guide to the Great Northern Railway.
  12. ^ Burt, Steven (1994). The illustrated history of Leeds. Kevin Grady. Derby: Breedon. pp. 141, 169, 172, 249. ISBN 1-873626-35-5. OCLC 60077045.
  13. ^ Her Majesty's Government (1947). "Transport Act 1947". The Railways Archive. (originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office). Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  14. ^ East Coast Main Line Rail Route Upgrading, United Kingdom
  15. ^ Quick, Michael (2020). Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain; a Chronology (PDF) (5 ed.). Market Drayton: The railway and Canal Historical Society. p. 261. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Barriers accept wrong tickets". BBC News. 18 November 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Your Views: The problems with Leeds railway station's new ticket barrier". Yorkshire Evening Post. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  18. ^ a b "New station entrance given approval" (Press release). 31 October 2013. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  19. ^ "Leeds Rail Station - new southern entrance (LSSE)".
  20. ^ "Have your say on Leeds Station Southern Entrance plans" (Press release). 2 December 2011. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "Brand new Platform Zero to be built at Leeds train station as hundreds of car parking spaces disappear" Johnson, K Leeds Live news article 16 November 2018; Retrieved 31 January 2020
  23. ^ Jagger, David (7 January 2021). "£161m improvement work at Leeds train station completed". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  24. ^ Holden, Alan (11 October 2019). "Leeds Station, more improvements to come following roof replacement". RailAdvent.
  25. ^ "Leeds station improvements". Network Rail. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  26. ^ Steel, Wilfrid L (1914). The History of the London & North Western Railway. London: The Railway and Travel Monthly. p. 441. OCLC 1063588438.
  27. ^ "Collision at Plymouth station 3 April 2016" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. February 2017. p. 35. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Station usage 2013-14 infographic" (PDF). Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  30. ^ "Network Rail unveils plans for Leeds station | Global Rail News". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  31. ^ [2]
  32. ^ [3]
  33. ^ "GNWR granted access to West Coast main line". Global Rail News.
  34. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^ "Consortium to buy East Coast trains announced". ITV News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  36. ^ "Rail industry confirms new summer 2019 timetable". 7 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  37. ^ "Northern franchise improvements". p. Chester to Leeds. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  38. ^ £1.2 billion upgrade for North as Arriva wins Northern and First retains TransPennine Express Clinnick, Richard; Rail Magazine article 9 December 2015; Retrieved 17 December 2015
  39. ^ "Phase Two: Leeds". HS2. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "The Yorkshire Hub" (PDF). Department for Transport. p. 10. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  42. ^ [4]
  43. ^ [5]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]