Rail line could be reopened with HS2

Wortley Curve

Wortley Curve

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Parliamentary Correspondent

Transport chiefs should explore reopening a rail line that gave Bradford a direct link to East Coast routes, a report said yesterday.

A study into the HS2 high-speed rail project also called for a fresh look at the axed Wortley Curve, in order to “improve services to Bradford and Wakefield”.

The line disappeared back in 1985 – sparking protests from political leaders in Bradford, because it once allowed trains from London to bypass Leeds.

Now Sir David Higgins, the HS2 chairman, has suggested such lost links must be reconsidered alongside the flagship £42.6bn high-speed scheme.

His report, called ‘HS2 Plus’, is a rallying cry to dramatically improve Trans-Pennine links, as well as the North-South route to the capital.

It says questions such as “whether to reopen the Wortley Curve to improve services to Bradford and Wakefield are not within HS2’s remit, but are hugely relevant to final decisions on the route”.

The call will delight city business leaders who have formed the group Bradford Breakthrough in support of HS2. They suggested the move last October.

Furthermore, rail buffs say the Wortley Curve route – which dates back to 1844 – is largely intact, although very overgrown.

However, Sir David’s key proposal to deliver HS2 six years earlier on its West Coast section – but not to Yorkshire – raised alarm.

David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, said: “I’m conscious of the effects that any prioritisation of the North West spur of Phase Two may have on the line to Leeds.

“HS2 will bring benefits to Bradford, not only in more train journeys but also more investment in the local area.

“But I would like to see the whole project expedited, to ensure that the benefits and investment opportunities come to our local area soon rather decades into the future.”

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