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Bradford council plans a new Northern Powerhouse station

Words: Laura Edgar
Bradford / Salarko, Shutterstock_1910299936

The leader of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has announced that the site of the city’s St James’s Wholesale Market is the planned location for a new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) station.

Susan Hinchcliffe said this through station would put Bradford on the mainline NPR route between Leeds and Manchester. It is something, she added, that the council and partners think is key to the wider regeneration of the city and district.

It is expected that establishing a station in the city centre would reduce journey times to Leeds by seven minutes and to Manchester by 22 minutes, and would connect businesses and workforces, as well as the area's young people, to a range of other markets across the North.

The station is part of the area’s plans to grow cleanly and sustainably, and its ambition to be the UK City of Culture 2025.

The council owns the six-acre St James’s Market site at Essex Street. As the market is the “largest in the Yorkshire and North East region”, the council explained that there is potential to create a Northern food hub with a new larger and more accessible modern wholesale market being centre stage. This would also create more jobs.

Hinchcliffe, who is also chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, highlights that Bradford is not on the mainline and its two local stations “are not fit for purpose, or properly linked at all”.

“If the government is serious about its levelling-up agenda, then providing the funding for an NPR station in Bradford city centre is a no-brainer. The prime minister said that 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.

“We understand that the government considers the underground option at the interchange site too costly for Northern Powerhouse Rail. So we’ve been pragmatic and looked for an alternative central Bradford site which could be more easily connected to NPR.  

“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. We’re embarking on masterplanning work to consider how the new station will expand the commercial centre of the city and connect to the existing civil, leisure and retail core. We are confident a new railway route and track can be identified and created – without affecting existing services and stations and with no disruption to travellers while it is constructed.

“We have a compelling case that shows Bradford city centre on a new line is the strongest of all shortlisted options from Manchester to Leeds – achieving the highest number of jobs, the most trips, the highest impact on the local economy and the greatest regeneration benefits.”    

James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, added that quicker journey times between Leeds and Bradford “would make a real difference to people living and working in both of these great cities”.

“Proposals like the new Bradford station are also 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 – a welcome prospect as Leeds and the wider city region look to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Image credit | Salarko, Shutterstock