PLANS for a new inter-city rail service linking Bradford with London six times a day are now being considered by the rail regulators.
Great North Eastern Railway has submitted a bid to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to run trains from King's Cross to West Yorkshire and Lincolnshire to start in December 2017 using the East Coast main line.
The plans include a two-hourly service to Leeds calling at a new East Leeds Parkway station and a commitment to run six trains a day continuing to Bradford Forster Square and one to Ilkley.
It will involve an investment of at least £130 million and a new fleet of Hitachi Super Express trains capable of running at 140mph.
The firm previously submitted an application for track access rights in 2011, but this was later withdrawn. This fresh application is currently being assessed by the ORR.
It also comes as the Inter-City East Coast franchise is being determined by the Department for Transport, with a decision expected in November.
Ian Yeowart, managing director of Alliance Rail, GNER’s parent company, said: “This proposal is an important opportunity to further strengthen and grow the UK’s rail network.
"It will bring significant private investment to the industry; improve transport for passengers by delivering direct inter-city rail services to many new areas, and support government aims to generate wider economic benefits and future opportunities in the North of England.”
Bid documents state that trains to and from Bradford will call at Shipley, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds, and a new East Leeds Parkway, with some calling at Doncaster. Trains to and from Ilkley will make the same calls as Bradford trains, except that Shipley will be replaced with Guiseley. Kirkstall Forge is a new station due to open in 2015. East Leeds Parkway is a new station proposed by GNER, with two sites on the line between Leeds and Micklefield currently under consideration.
GNER proposes selling inter-available tickets and accepting them on its own trains. In addition passengers unable to get a seat during a long-distance journey will be offered a refund.
Metro, the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, has responded to consultation over the plans, stating that it supports them in principle, but that a number of questions need answering before it can offer its full support. It also has concerns about the timing of the bid, coming part way through the Inter-City East Coast franchise competition.
However, in a letter, James Nutter, rail manager at Metro, details the benefits to Bradford. He states: "As a major and growing city, Bradford has relatively poor connectivity with London when compared to other cities of equivalent size.
"The emerging evidence suggests that of all the 'off-route' destinations served by Long Distance High Speed services, improving connectivity between Bradford and London would deliver a very high level of economic benefit."