Writing to the Minister for Rail ahead of an expected announcement on proposals for the development of a new rail station in Bradford city centre, Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain urges the Minister not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors and back Bradford’s ambitious rail infrastructure plans.
Giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee last week (Wednesday 21 June 2023) as part of their inquiry into rail services and infrastructure, the Minister for Rail, Huw Merriman MP, stated that whilst the Government remained committed to the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) which rejected calls to build Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) in full, the Government had nevertheless been looking at proposals for the development of a new station in Bradford’s city centre, and he hoped to publish proposals and amendments to the IRP by the end of June 2023.
Originally set out as a northern equivalent of the Crossrail development in London which would connect the North of England’s major cities, plans for NPR that were endorsed by Transport for the North, local authorities and major employers across the region would have seen the construction of a new high-speed, high-capacity rail line stretching from Manchester to Leeds via a new city centre station in Bradford. However, despite committing to NPR in full in Summer 2021, the Government subsequently reversed their commitment when publishing the IRP in November 2021.
However, despite his disappointment at the Government’s decision to scrap plans for NPR through Bradford, Imran has continued to campaign for the Government to move forward with plans for the development of a new rail station in Bradford’s city centre which accompanied Bradford’s NPR proposals, declaring that even without the inclusion of NPR, a new, modern and fit-for-purpose station is critical to providing rail services that can reach the rest of the country and to driving the wider redevelopment of Bradford’s city centre.
Speaking on his call for the Minister for Rail to back Bradford’s plans for a new city centre rail station, Imran said:
“After years spent at the end of branch lines and being treated as a poorer suburb of Leeds, the Minister’s announcement last week that the Government have been listening to myself and others calling for greater rail infrastructure investment and a new city centre station for Bradford is positive news, and it represents a massive opportunity for boosting the District if the Government do back this new station this week.
“Despite being one of the UK’s largest cities, Bradford lacks a proper inter-city rail service which is deterring investment and holding us back. It is therefore critical that we get a new, modern and fit-for-purpose station that can provide bigger and better rail services needed to reach the rest of the country. Much like the London King’s Cross station redevelopment did for the ex-industrial, brownfield sites surrounding it, a new Bradford station would also drive the wider redevelopment for the area, making the Minister’s decision on whether to approve a new station a clear no-brainer.
“Whilst the Minister sounded positive about a new station for Bradford, we’ve been burnt before by this Government promising one thing only to backtrack when publishing their final plans. Nowhere did we see this more clearly than in their commitment in Summer 2021 to building Northern Powerhouse Rail through Bradford, before scrapping it in the autumn, and ahead of the publication of their new station proposals later this week, I therefore urge the Rail Minister again not to follow or repeat the mistakes of his predecessors, and make the right decision for Bradford.”