Bradford city

Bradford seeks support on rail project which could deliver £30bn benefits

Delivery of a new city centre railway station in Bradford is estimated to boost the city’s economy by £30bn over ten years, with Bradford Council now seeking government support to deliver the major rail project.

Issuing a letter to Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, the council has described the new Bradford station as ‘Britain’s number one levelling-up opportunity’.

They are seeking the backing of the new railway station in the upcoming Integrated Rail Plan, with the council, politicians and business leaders in West Yorkshire seeing it as a way of unlocking Bradford’s economic potential.

A city of more than 500,000 people, Bradford has some of the worst rail connectivity of any major British city due to its location largely outside of major routes and lines.

Just four direct services per day run between Bradford and London, while services to Leeds are commonly bemoaned – often taking around 25 minutes to complete the 9-mile journey. Likewise, journeys to Manchester routinely take 1 hour, despite just 29 miles separating the two cities, curtailed by average speeds of less than 40mph.

Alongside limiting the connectivity and economic impact of Bradford regionally and nationally, it also increases car usership in the city; standing in the face of green progress in the region.

Economic analysis of the potential benefits of a city centre station in Bradford suggests it would provide £30bn in economic benefit over a decade-long period. As well, it would:

  • Bring 6.7 million people and an area of over £167bn of annual economic output within a 35-minute journey of central Bradford.
  • Create 27,000 new jobs
  • Generate a 10% uplift in land values
  • Unlock 1.3m additional accessible jobs within 90 minutes of Bradford

The location chosen for Bradford’s new station is at the southern tip of the city centre, on a location at St James Market owned by the council. This will allow for the project to be delivered quickly if the proposals secure a green light in the upcoming Government rail plan.

Plans for the new station form a key part in regenerating Bradford’s Southern Gateway with a development area three times larger than Canary Wharf.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “A new city-centre station for Bradford would be the epitome of levelling up in action. It would transform the connectivity of three of Britain’s largest cities using existing rail services while also delivering a station able to handle Northern Powerhouse Rail services.

“We’ve made rapid progress on the critical steps needed to realise this opportunity including identification of an affordable and deliverable site.

“Bradford is the UK’s youngest city with a population bigger than Liverpool, Hull and Newcastle so a new station represents a unique and unrivalled opportunity to unlock the potential of Britain’s seventh largest city.”

Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, added: “Delivering a new station in Bradford is a critical part of the Integrated Rail Plan and one Leeds City Council fully supports. The economies of Bradford and Leeds combined represent the biggest economy outside London, but our poor connectivity holds us back.

“We urgently need to see Leeds and Bradford better connected on mainline rail, and this should form the first part of the much-needed NPR route. 

“Building new stations in both Bradford and Leeds to make us NPR and HS2 ready is essential if we are to transform the economy of our region and accelerate the levelling-up agenda. Detailed plans are in place as to how we can better connect our great cities.

“We need the green light and investment from government to deliver this so we can cut congestion and deliver greener, more sustainable transport across the North.”

Northern Powerhouse Rail and better connecting our northern cities will form a key part of discussions at our TCR North live event, which returns to Manchester on November 11, 2021. Find out more here.

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