Leeds railway station has completed a £161 million upgrade programme which the Department for Transport says will “provide more seats, services and significantly faster journey times, improving rail connections across the North and Midlands”.

The works included the lengthening of platforms, the creation of a new Platform 0 and the opening of a new concourse.

The DfT said that the upgrade would also “significantly boost the reliability and punctuality of services entering the station”.

“Leeds station is a major hub right at the heart of the North, not only a gateway to one of the UK’s most vibrant and lively cities but a vital transport link enabling people from all over the country to travel for work, pleasure and connect with friends and family,” said Rail Minister Wendy Morton.

“These upgrades are a huge milestone making these journeys even easier, providing passengers with more seats, more services and more punctual journeys all while building upon our unprecedented Integrated Rail Plan – delivering a modern, fully connected transport hub fit for the future quicker than under previous plans.

However the completion of upgrade works comes less than two months after the scrapping of the Leeds leg of the HS2 high-speed rail line, which has prompted criticism of the government’s “levelling up” plans.

A study is now under way to look at how to take HS2 services to Leeds using existing infrastructure.

A DfT release said that its recently published £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan would result in passengers in Leeds seeing “dramatic improvements to their journey times, far sooner than under previous proposals”.

“This includes full electrification to York, and of the Calder Valley line between Bradford and Leeds, cutting journey times to as little as 12 minutes,” the DfT said.

“Our plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail will see services reaching Manchester from Leeds in 33 minutes, a saving of 22 minutes compared to today, and passengers will reach Birmingham 29 minutes faster than at present.

“The Integrated Rail Plan has also kickstarted work on the West Yorkshire Mass Transit System, righting the historic wrong that Leeds is the largest city in Western Europe without a mass transit network, and £100 million of development funding is focused on determining the best way to bring HS2 services to Leeds.”

In other news railadvent.co.uk reports that Leeds has become the latest station to benefit from Network Rail’s nationwide roll-out of fast, free, and unlimited wifi, with speeds of over 120 megabytes per second “available across the entire station”.