Plans revealed for new Northern Powerhouse railway station

A new Northern Powerhouse railway station has been proposed for Bradford, with the council stating it has a bold vision for the city.

The station which is part of a plan to extend the city centre and make it “better-connected and more prosperous”, would serve Bradford city centre from a six-acre site off Wakefield Road, which is currently occupied by St James’s Wholesale Market.

Revealing details of the plans, Bradford Council said the scheme – estimated to cost £500m with ambitions to open in 2030 – would slash train journey times between Leeds and Bradford to just seven minutes.

The council wants the station to be included on a proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) mainline route that would link Leeds and Manchester and form part of a wider network running east to west across the country from Hull to Liverpool.

Bradford’s inclusion on NPR is expected to add millions to the economy and create 27,000 jobs.

The announcement comes ahead of the publication of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan, which it is hoped will set out a timetable for the delivery of not only Northern Powerhouse Rail but also the Birmingham-Leeds section of the HS2 network.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe

Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who also chairs West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “It is disgraceful that a place the size of Bradford is still not on the mainline. We have two local stations that are not fit for purpose, or properly linked at all.

“The Prime Minister said he supported an NPR route between Leeds and Manchester back in summer 2019 but we are still waiting for that commitment to be backed up.

“It often feels as if Bradford, the UK’s seventh largest city and one of its most diverse, doesn’t really feature when decisions are being made in Whitehall.

“We now have a station site, on the edge of the city centre and at the heart of our Southern Gateway regeneration area, that is viable, deliverable and within our control.”

The St James’s Market site is owned by the council and is opposite the Cineworld cinema, a short walk from the current Interchange station that it would eventually replace.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “We would not envisage work on the station starting before 2024-25 to be open for 2030.”

She said it is planned to get “spades on the ground in this decade,” in order to have the benefits realised in the following decade.

If the proposals go ahead, the city’s current Interchange rail station would close, with all train and bus services moving to the new St James station, which would be connected to Forster Square as part of the West Yorkshire mass transit plan.

Addressing the potential displacement which could be caused by the plans, particularly regarding the market, Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “We are very proud to have one of the largest wholesale markets in the North of England and are committed to that continuing in Bradford.

She said it is the council’s ambition that the market “become one of the most pre-eminent wholesale markets in the country” and that it would work with traders to find a new, bigger and better site in the district when required.

Lord Jim O’Neill, vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, who is speaking at the upcoming Invest North conference, said: “The Northern Powerhouse Rail project from Leeds to Bradford across to Manchester, travelling on to Manchester Airport and Liverpool, is vital to the long-term goal of raising productivity and building a thriving Northern Powerhouse.”

Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “These station plans are really exciting, not just for Bradford but for the Leeds City Region as a whole.

Councillor James Lewis

“Proposals like the new Bradford station are a clear indication of how Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 could meet the demands of 21st century life and help unlock the economic potential of communities across West Yorkshire and beyond.

“Improved connectivity and capacity on our railways is vitally needed and would create thousands of new jobs.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: “Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2, along with upgrades to our existing network, would be key building blocks for a genuinely bright future for the region as a whole.

“Given Bradford’s scale, potential and growing young population, it makes absolute sense to strengthen the connections between the two city economies and reap the maximum benefits from opportunities such as Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11 group of northern local enterprise partnerships, said: “Bradford’s huge potential to deliver for the North and the UK as a whole will only be maximised by improvements in its transport connections opening up new opportunities for investment and job creation.

“Bradford Council’s station proposals underline the importance Northern Powerhouse Rail has to communities across the North of England and the importance of delivering this vital investment as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Kim Groves, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, added: “A Bradford City Centre station on a new Northern Powerhouse Rail line connecting Leeds to Manchester is an essential element of our ambitious plans for transport in West Yorkshire.

“We will be working with Bradford Council as more detailed proposals for the station location are developed.”

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Lord Jim O’Neil, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Roger Marsh OBE DL and Tom Riordan are just four of the leaders to be joining 55 colleagues from business, local and national government to take part in Invest North tomorrow.

The one-day virtual conference which will be attended by over 500 people looks to set the agenda for what comes next for the North. To be part of the conversation and this landmark event, book your ticket now.

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