A £600 million investment in Northern Hub rail upgrades will improve the network in Bradford – but it will not include the electrification of the Caldervale Line between the city and Manchester.
Chancellor George Osborne today started the Manchester-based programme, which Network Rail believes could benefit the Northern region to the tune of £4 billion.
The benefits for Bradford include direct services from the city to Manchester Airport – where construction has started on a new station – from December 2016 and faster journey times to and from Manchester, where Victoria station is undergoing a £4m overhaul.
But when asked if the project would include the much-asked-for electrification of the Caldervale Line, a Network Rail spokesman said: “There are no plans to electrify the line at present.”
The electrification of the line was also brought up when Bradford Council revealed it was refusing to back the HS2 high-speed rail scheme.
Council leader Councillor David Green said: “The general concept of the Northern Hub is something that the local authorities across the North have been working on for a long time, and I am delighted that finally some progress has been made.
“But we are still extremely concerned at a lack of commitment to electrification of the Caldervale Line.
“We are going to continue to lobby for it because of its importance to the economic regeneration of Bradford and the northern region.”
On the benefits for Bradford, Network Rail said: “Upgrading the infrastructure will provide the option for faster line-speeds between Bradford and Manchester, while building a new platform at Rochdale station will allow trains going beyond Rochdale to overtake terminating trains.
“We are proposing to build a new section of track which will link the railway between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly, which will provide a link between the two stations for the first time. This will make it possible for services coming into Manchester Victoria from Bradford to continue to the airport.”
The upgrades should be completed by 2019, allowing up to 700 more trains to run each day, and providing space for 44 million passengers a year.
Mr Osborne said: “The Government’s long-term plan is about securing a recovery for all parts of the country. Because of the tough decisions we’ve taken on day-to-day spending, we’re able to invest in key infrastructure projects like the Northern Hub, which will create billions for the region.”