According to this article, Bradford is the best British city for business due to its transport links. It’s a little scant on details, but it claims Bradford has good transport links and low levels of congestion.
Now I live in Bradford, and this surprises me. To start with, here’s what is good about transport in Bradford:
- Roads – Bradford has good links with the M62, via the M606 and the A650/A641, and the bits of the central ring road that have been completed make for a good bypass of the city centre. The signposting is generally good and even at peak times traffic generally keeps moving.
- Buses – Bradford Interchange is a large, modern bus station with both short and mid-distance bus services and long distance coach services serving a wide variety of destinations, including many airports. It’s also connected to the railway station. Bus services are frequent and reasonably cheap.
- Trains – Bradford has two railway stations, with trains at least every 15 minutes to Leeds all day and regular local services. A couple of trains run direct to London each day.
But there’s a lot that needs improving:
- Roads – The central ring road isn’t finished, and probably never will be as part of the missing bit requires demolishing listed buildings around the university or tunnelling underneath it, which would be prohibitively expensive. The missing section therefore uses older roads in the city centre, which makes for a confusing one-way system on roads not designed for the level of traffic they now take. And while the road connections to the south and to Leeds are adequate, to the north the road quality falls sharply, as anyone who’s ever wanted to drive from Bradford to north Lancashire would testify as you crawl through places like Saltaire and Keighley. Leeds Bradford Airport, for example, is only accessible via a single carriageway A-road which passes through suburbs and villages on the way. And the outer ring road is mostly a joke – it’s a series of existing roads roughly forming a ring around the city that were designated a number. Most sections are not designed for the amount of traffic they now carry, and so it’s often quicker to use the central ring road rather than try to avoid the city altogether.
- Buses – To be honest I don’t have a lot to fault Bradford’s bus services on – compared to other cities they’re pretty good.
- Trains – One of the local sayings here is on the lines of ‘Bradford may have 2 railway stations, but you still need to change at Leeds to go anywhere’. Unfortunately this is quite true – the direct service to London is only twice a day, and there are no long distance services, just hourly mid-distance trains which stretch out to York, Manchester, Wakefield, Blackpool and Preston. Anywhere else, and you have to change at Leeds or Manchester, and since the trains call at Manchester Victoria and not Piccadilly, you might as well just go via Leeds. Leeds Bradford Airport is one of the few airports in the country that doesn’t have a railway station or concrete plans for one, despite its proximity to the Leeds-Harrogate railway line. Most of the trains which run into Bradford Interchange are at least 15 years old and tend to be handed down from other companies when they get new trains – the only ‘new’ trains running into Bradford are those which serve Ilkley, Skipton and Leeds from Bradford Forster Square.
Bradford’s transport links aren’t bad on the whole, but to call them the best is laughable. There is so much that can be done to improve transport here, especially the railways.