THERE is a “compelling case” for a high-speed rail station to be built in Bradford, a study by a global consultancy firm has found.

The Government has yet to decide whether to include Bradford on its planned east-west Northern Powerhouse Rail line from Manchester to Leeds, but the report by Arup provides a dossier of evidence about why it should do so.

The new high-speed line would form part of a Northern Powerhouse Rail network linking the North’s six ‘core cities’ of Leeds, Hull, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield through a mixture of high-speed lines and more traditional upgrades.

But Arup’s report says Bradford has a bigger population and higher productivity levels than many of these ‘core cities’ and calls for it to be added to this list.

It says Bradford’s “current rail offer is poor with low frequencies, slow journey times and no direct connectivity with key cities such as Liverpool and Sheffield” and argues that the city is ripe for investment.

The report says that more traditional rail improvements in Bradford are significantly harder to achieve because of “a combination of short platform lengths and the fact that both city centre stations are termini”.

It says while more people travel between Bradford and Leeds than between any other two cities in the UK, comparatively few people choose to make the journey by train, leaving roads heavily congested.

It says speeding up this journey, as well as the journey to Manchester, will unlock economic benefits not just for Bradford but for the rest of the North.

The evidence makes “a compelling case for an NPR stop at Bradford due to the potential range of benefits it can bring”, it says.

The report, commissioned by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, has already been sent to the Government as well as transport body Transport for the North, which will soon recommend to ministers whether to include Bradford on the line.

It has now been released to the Telegraph & Argus in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Also released to the T&A was an earlier report, by consultants Systra/JMP. This looked into how building a second high-speed station in the Leeds City Region, as well as the one planned in Leeds, would deliver economic benefits to the region.

It tested the different economic benefits of stations at ten potential locations, including Bradford city centre, parkway-style stations at either Low Moor or Brighouse, as well as stops in Huddersfield, Halifax, east Leeds, Wakefield, York or Selby.

In terms of economic benefit, Bradford city centre was ranked first, adding an extra £53m to the local economy each year. A parkway at Low Moor came second, bringing an estimated annual benefit of £44m, and a parkway at Brighouse came third, bringing a £33m benefit.

Transport for the North has been given a £60m Government grant to look into various options for creating a 30-minute rail link between Leeds and Manchester. It is expected to finalise its recommendations within months.

A spokesman for Transport for the North said they had asked northern regions to submit evidence as part of this feasibility work.

She said: “The Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) Station Study from Leeds City Region provided a strong narrative for a Bradford station to be included on a future NPR network alongside other key towns and cities in the north of England.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling will make the final decision on whether to give the NPR line the green light, including whether to bring the line to Bradford.

Mr Grayling has made supportive comments about Bradford’s campaign in the past.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said they were considering whether to add Bradford to the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, as well as considering the case for stops at Huddersfield, Warrington and York.

He said: “We have committed £60m to developing the scheme and are working with Transport for the North on potential route options, the costs and the benefits.

“A strategy is due to be prepared by the end of 2017.”

Transport chiefs “ignore at their peril” the report backing Bradford’s case for a high-speed rail station, a key business figure has said.

Nick Garthwaite, president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “Arup’s report gives a compelling case to have the Northern Powerhouse Rail coming through Bradford city and that we have got to have a new station.

“The advantages are clear and for me, when I read it, I think actually they have done an incredibly good job on the creation of the report and make a very strong case for the city.”

Mr Garthwaite said Bradford had a young population and that “we must have that connectivity for our young people”.

He said: “Everything we read just points to the fact that this has got to happen - no ifs, buts or maybes. It really is so important for Bradford and indeed for the wider city region as well.”

Mr Garthwaite said it was hugely important that everyone kept lobbying Transport for the North and the Government, saying the “pressure needs to be kept on” for Bradford to be included on the Northern Powerhouse Rail line.

He said: “People look at the report prepared by Arup and ignore it at their peril. The economic risks of not doing something about it mean you just can’t ignore what the Arup report says.

“I think the Chamber and many other people would be very, very concerned if it was just pooh-poohed. Now that really can’t be the case.”

James Vasey, of the Bradford Rail Users' Group, said he agreed with the findings of Arup's report.

He said: "Any proposal that would try to keep Bradford off the network falls at many hurdles.

"We are a bigger city than many other cities on the network, as well as those aspiring to be on it."

Mr Vasey said a station in Bradford would also provide a crucial link with the existing Airedale and Calder Valley rail lines, whereas "at the moment Bradford has got two dead-end stations".

He said all authorities in West Yorkshire had to remain united behind Bradford's campaign for it to succeed.

The studies have been "vital" in helping to grow the campaign for high-speed rail to come to Bradford.

That's according to Bradford Council's executive member for transport, Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw.

Earlier this year, business leaders joined forces with the Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to begin Next Stop Bradford, a campaign to get a high-speed station built in the city centre.

Cllr Ross-Shaw said: "The reports by Arup and Systra/JMP make clear that a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in the centre of Bradford would deliver a huge economic boost for the whole of the North of England, not just Bradford.

"These reports have been vital in helping us make our case to the Government as well as to Transport for the North and galvanising support for the Next Stop Bradford campaign."

A spokesman for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said its transport chairman, Councillor Keith Wakefield, saw a "Northern Powerhouse Rail with stops in Bradford, Leeds and York as not just a regional priority but a national one" and had urged Mr Grayling to give it his unequivocal support.

Meanwhile, specific ideas about how a high-speed rail station could be built in Bradford remain under wraps.

In February, the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed that local transport bosses were investigating how a high-speed link might be brought into Bradford Interchange.

At the time, ideas being explored included an underground platform, new tunnels or cuttings and a pedestrian link to Bradford Forster Square.

But the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has decided to keep its detailed investigations private, despite the T&A’s request under the Freedom of Information Act.

WYCA opted not to release a document called ‘NPR Bradford: Rail alignments’, and also removed a chapter from the Systra/JMP report, saying it was in the public interest for authorities to be “afforded a safe space” to discuss such plans in private.

The letter said the “maps, diagrams and calculations contained in the aforementioned documents relate to locational decisions which have not yet been made and therefore to release this information at this time would compromise the safe space needed” to conclude these discussions.