BRADFORD SPEEDS AHEAD WITH PLANS FOR NORTHERN POWERHOUSE…

BRADFORD SPEEDS AHEAD WITH PLANS FOR NORTHERN POWERHOUSE RAIL

As the new year begins, those backing the ambition to bring a new high-speed rail line to Bradford city centre remain confident as the Next Stop Bradford campaign continues to gain pace.

Over the last two years, the campaign to bring Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) to Bradford has made significant progress. Business leaders, political decision makers and community stakeholders have rallied behind Bradford’s campaign to secure a much-needed high-speed station on the mainline network, helping to make the case that Britain’s youngest city must be better connected to other major cities across the North.

Transport for the North (TfN), the organisation responsible for planning the new high-speed rail network, released their ‘Draft Strategic Transport Plan’ in January 2018. On the map for the new East – West rail route, was Bradford, via a proposed new rail line between Leeds and Manchester.

This announcement marked a huge milestone for the Next Stop Bradford campaign. When Northern Powerhouse Rail was first mooted, Bradford wasn’t being considered as a possible station location on the new NPR network. Thanks to the support of those backing the campaign, Bradford is now at the forefront of NPR discussions and being firmly considered as a city in need of rail investment by key figures in Government. 

To date, over 500 businesses, residents, political leaders and transport stakeholders have supported the Bradford campaign – all of which have been crucial in helping to make the case to those key senior decision makers.

But what does Northern Powerhouse Rail in Bradford city centre really mean for businesses located in the city?

Economic analysis from GENECON has revealed the full economic potential of a Bradford city centre Northern Powerhouse Rail station, which could bring an economic boost of £15bn to the Northern economy by 2060 and generate an additional 15,000 FTE jobs across the Leeds City Region.

The research, which was commissioned by Bradford Council, analysed how improved high-speed connectivity could be the catalyst for wider city centre regeneration. It also found that whilst significantly improving Bradford’s offer, NPR would also make the city a more attractive place to live, work and invest, and make a huge difference to people’s commute to and from the city.  

It is estimated that a new station in Bradford city centre could see an additional 656,000 trips taken to and from Bradford annually, with journey times to Manchester and Leeds reduced to 20 minutes and 7 minutes respectively. It would also mean more carriages, more seats and more reliable services, greatly improving the ability for rail users to travel with ease.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair and Bradford Council Leader, has passionately spearheaded the campaign since its inception. Making the case for an NPR station in Bradford, Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “Only a city centre NPR station will have this game changing impact for our city, finally getting Bradford off the branch line and unleashing the huge economic potential of the UK’s youngest city.”

Her comments have been echoed by private sector partners and businesses across the district.

The NEC Group, which has been selected as the operating partner for the Bradford Live development in the former Odeon building said NPR will maximise the economic impact of investment into the city centre.

Paul Thandi, CEO of NEC Group, said: “The NEC Group’s investment in a live music, entertainment and events venue in the centre of Bradford demonstrates our long-term commitment to the city. We’ve seen first-hand at our venues in Birmingham the difference the right infrastructure and transport links can make. An NPR station in Bradford city centre will truly help connect Bradford with wider audiences across the West Yorkshire region, maximising the economic impact of investment into the city centre. As such we are firm supporters of the Next Stop Bradford campaign.”

Kevin Bell, Partner in the Transport Team at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson in Newcastle, said: “As a firm, we are committed to promoting the strengths of the North and Bradford is at the heart of our vision. Bradford is already a city on the up and we believe that a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford city centre is vital in adding momentum to the city’s regeneration, further harnessing its economic potential and ultimately making Bradford an even more desirable place to live and work. This investment will undoubtedly transform Bradford and it is important that we all continue to shout loud about Bradford’s case and seize this opportunity for the city.”

Victoria Robertshaw, Co-owner of Keelham Farm Shop in Thornton, Bradford said: “Our business has had roots in Bradford for more than 40 years and we’ve built a fantastic network of farmers and producers from the city and right across the North of England. The transformation of the city through continued investment in transport and infrastructure is vital, and the Next Stop Bradford campaign has our full support. Through Northern Powerhouse Rail we have an opportunity, once again, for the city to be central to the future of growth of the region. We look forward to working with TfN as their plans for NPR progress to ensure Bradford secures a city centre station as part of the mainline network.”

Whilst decisions are still being made regarding the NPR network, should the high-speed line receive the green light from Government, NPR is expected to be up and running in the mid-2030s. However, those behind Next Stop Bradford have been clear that in order to secure this significant infrastructure investment for Bradford, we must act now.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport at Bradford Council, has set out how Bradford will change across the next 12 months, and why 2019 is an important year for NPR in Bradford. He said: “2019 is an important year for Bradford and we expect to see lots of change taking place in our city centre. The refurbishment of the much anticipated Bradford Live development in the former Odeon building will begin, and plans to redevelop the markets on Darley Street and Kirkgate will move onto the next phase.

“We are also expecting key decisions to be taken on NPR and Bradford’s position on the route. We will be working closely with TfN and key decision makers to make the case that only a city centre station will bring the transformational change Bradford needs and deserves. We are clear that without this, Leeds, Bradford, Manchester and the wider region, would remain inadequately connected and the opportunity to improve access to skills and markets with all its economic and social benefits will be lost.”


To keep up to date with the latest campaign updates, please follow @nxtstopbradford and #NextStopBradford on Twitter, or visit www.nextstopbradford.com to ‘pledge your support’ for the campaign.