Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

When 2 become 1 – Bradford stations prologue

In my ‘Bradford – a tale of two stations‘ post a few weeks ago I mentioned that many plans had been made to connect the city’s two stations together over the years but nothing had come of it.

The latest set of plans have been published by a couple of local businessmen. It would create a new station called ‘Bradford Central’ which would be on the bridge carrying the tracks through the city. This would be linked to the existing bus station at Bradford Interchange but it’s probable that the two railway stations would close under the plans.

The proposed station certainly looks good in the artist drawings, and very little demolition would be necessary – just the Royal Mail depot at Forster Court (which has been earmarked for eventual demolition anyway as far as I am aware). It would take some land from the Westfield development but would have the advantage that the site would be very close to the station – therefore increasing footfall in the proposed shops. There’s even a chance that Westfield would help fund it, as they did in London when their White City shopping centre opened recently; this saw a new railway station, new Tube station and another Tube station extensively refurbished with Westfield putting up a lot of the money.

The projected cost of the scheme would be £100m, which is a lot of money. We’ve just come out of a recession and the massive public fund deficit means that money from central government is probably not going to be very forthcoming.

The design of the station would make any potential expansion difficult – it provides 4 platforms but this is less than the 7 that the two existing stations provide between them. Of course, should the platforms at Bradford Interchange remain open for terminating services then potential capacity problems would be alleviated somewhat. However, adding extra platforms to the new station would be very difficult due to its elevated state, and the probably lack of land to expand into.

Despite all this, I really, really hope that this comes to fruition. The current station at Interchange looks very dark and tired, and needs replacing. Enabling through services, rather than having trains reverse, would make routing trains through Bradford more attractive. And it may be the catalyst that gets the Westfield development back on track and would give people more reason to visit the city. But it’s early days and we’ve been in this situation many times before – I’m not getting my hopes up.

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