Northern leaders call for new Bradford rail station in next week’s budget statement

The government should include a new rail station in Bradford in next week’s autumn  statement, whether or not it goes ahead with the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, said Henri Murison.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership chief executive said at an event on the proposed site of the new station – Bradford’s St James’s Wholesale Market – that the government had already committed to electrifying the line between Leeds and Bradford, and that failing to build the new station would be a missed opportunity.

The market itself would move from its existing site, where it cannot expand, to a new 21-acre site under plans first announced by Bradford Council last year.

The new station and associated development would bring 27,000 new jobs and an extra £3 billion GVA to Bradford, council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said.

Last week government ministers would not confirm they would continue with previously announced plans to improve northern rail networks, either through the Northern Powerhouse scheme which would see a new line between Leeds and Manchester or the Integrated Rail Plan for the North, which would see upgrades to existing lines.

Murison said, “The government is committed to electrification. That opens up the mainline rail network. What we need to do next is move forward. We’ve got to maker the station, and then we can continue to debate and discuss the merits of getting a line from here to Marsden, which would give a new line between here in Yorkshire to Manchester and on to Warrington and Liverpool.

“But I’m absolutely passionate that spending money on electrification scheme between here in Leeds and then not building a station to go with it will be a huge missed opportunity.”

Councillor Hinchcliffe added, “It would open up an area which is three times the size of Canary Wharf for development. And it would also give the private sector the certainty that there was going to be growth and plans that they could get on the back of in Bradford. We’ve already got people who’ve seen our ambitious private sector alongside them on investment investments around this site, and one will be announced in the next couple of weeks.”

Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow secretary for transport, said, “Cities like Bradford and across the north of the Midlands have been held back over the last decade with conservative failure and they’re having to rely on infrastructure that simply isn’t fit for purpose.

“That’s why northern business leaders and politicians came together to develop their northern powerhouse rail plan that they know would unlock billions of pounds of investment and help connect our northern towns and cities massively reduce journey times and improve capacity in order to get cars and freight off the road.

“That was what was put to government several years ago, and was promised to the people of the north more than 60 times in successive Tory manifestos. So it’s really important now that Rishi Sunak, who stood on a manifesto committed to deliver this, now keeps his word.”

Hinchcliffe added that she wanted national government to talk to her and other Northern leaders. “I do get tired of statements being made in the press nationally, which affects us in Bradford and nobody speaking to us beforehand.

“I’m a grown up. I run a big city in the north of England. I do expect them to come and have a chat with us and say look what’s possible here.”

Murison said that the new station would unlock potential in Bradford’s southern gateway. “It’s buying the opportunity to unlock all the south of Bradford’s city centre, which will give the opportunity for significant commercial development – moving a hospital, for example, to a new purpose built site.

“I’m really excited about those opportunities. But transport-backed connectivity underpins all those aspirations. And that’s why I’m so passionate, as a northerner and as a Bradfordian. You see this scheme delivers benefits to this part of the world, but also the wider north of England.”