West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield has welcomed today’s launch of a campaign to highlight the benefits Northern Powerhouse Rail would bring to Bradford and the Northern Powerhouse as a whole.
Business, Council and community representatives joined forces today to unveil the Next Stop Bradford campaign demanding a commitment from the government and Transport for the North for a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford city centre.
Cllr Wakefield said: “A Northern Powerhouse Rail route providing Bradford and Leeds with fast, frequent connections to York, Liverpool, Manchester and Hull and converging with HS2 at the planned Yorkshire Transport Hub in Leeds will provide a huge boost to the Leeds City Region
“The new cross-Pennine routes along with the much-needed upgrade and electrification of existing City Region rail lines including the trans-Pennine route via Huddersfield and Dewsbury, along the Calder Valley and between Leeds and Harrogate will help maximising investment, economy growth and new employment opportunities.
“The opportunities are huge and I see this launch of the Next Stop Bradford campaign as being just a start”
The campaigners met in Meeting in Bradford City Park to show their support for the campaign, leading figures from the region set out their ambition to better connect Bradford to major cities and towns across the North.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council said: “With a prime location in the centre of the Northern Powerhouse, Bradford is home to over 17,000 businesses including market-leading companies such as Provident Financial and Yorkshire Building Society as well as thousands of thriving SMEs. Benefiting from a rapidly growing young population and outstanding Higher and Further education institutions, Bradford is continuing to re-invent itself as a world class destination to live, work and invest.
“However, as the largest city in the UK not on a mainline rail network, Bradford has the potential to contribute much more to the Northern Powerhouse economy if connected to the Northern Powerhouse Rail network. If Transport for the North commit to a city centre station, our forecasts suggest an economic boost of at least £1.3bn to the city’s economy with faster trains arriving more often and enhanced connectivity to other major cities across the north.
“The strong message we will continue to voice is that the north simply cannot be successful without Bradford being successful and the time to invest is now.”
The launch of the campaign follows the remarks by Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy MP, at the Inclusive Growth event which took place in the city earlier this month where he stated “If I had my way, Bradford would have a stop on Northern Powerhouse Rail”. Further political support has also come from local politicians in the district, Philip Davies MP and Judith Cummins MP, who have both raised this issue in the House of Commons.
Powerhouse in its own right
Local MP, Judith Cummins, who is supporting the campaign and raising the issue with government Ministers said: “Leeds and Bradford have the largest daily commuter flows between two cities anywhere in the country and contribute a combined £29.2bn in GVA to the national economy. As an economic powerhouse in its own right, it is unacceptable that connectivity between the two cities remains hampered by poor transport infrastructure.
“The hard evidence stacking up in favour of a city centre station and this is supported by businesses and people in the community who agree there is a vital demand for this investment in East to West connectivity. We now need commitment from the government and Transport for the North to ensure Bradford continues to thrive.”
Detailed research is currently underway to further demonstrate the economic benefits of a city centre station. This is enhanced by strong support from some of the region’s leading businesses who are calling on the government and Transport for the North to invest without further delay.
Andy Caton, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce said: “Access to talent is a high priority for any business looking to grow and invest. As a result, excellent connectivity is crucial to attract people to new and better jobs. Siting a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford city centre makes sense not only for this city – putting, as it does, Bradford back on the main line – but for West Yorkshire generally.
The city has one of the fastest growing populations in the UK, but transport connectivity and congestion remains a key issue for many businesses and residents. Trans-Pennine travel is as important to them as North-South. We also have our close neighbours Leeds backing the campaign.”