BRADFORD Forster Square station is in line for a complete transformation under a new £15 million project unveiled by transport bosses.

Work on the scheme could start in 2018 to coincide with a major boost to the timetables which will mean direct trains departing to London every two hours.

The station building would be completely rebuilt with a sweeping wood-and-glass roof, two glass-fronted lifts, a cycle hub and shops.

New 'pods' housing waiting rooms and other facilities would be built under the railway arches and a piece of scrubland next to the platforms would become a colourful wildflower meadow.

Pedestrian links to the city centre would also be overhauled and a new public space would be created in front of the station.

The revamp is being funded by the new £1 billion West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund, which is overseen by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Bradford Council, station owners Network Rail and operators Arriva, Virgin and Northern Rail are also involved in the plans.

Councillor Val Slater, deputy leader of Bradford Council and a member of the Combined Authority's transport committee, said while a lot of work had been done to improve Bradford city centre in recent years, "one of the things that does let us down is our stations".

She said at Forster Square, there were concerns about people feeling safe, especially at night, as well as sub-standard facilities and problems when the single lift broke down.

She said: "You see, at the moment, you can't even get a cup of coffee to take on the train with you."

Cllr Slater said the new Gothic-style pods would be built in the arches "where at the moment we have got beggars", while the wildflower meadow would transform a "scrubby", litter-strewn patch of land.

She said the scheme was due to be finished by 2021, but the council would be pushing to get it done as soon as possible.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, chairman of the Combined Authority transport committee, said the project would "create a new, welcoming gateway to the city for tourists and commuters".

He added: "It will also support growth and job creation by improving links to The Broadway and the city centre and by complementing plans for new leisure facilities close to the Forster Square."

Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail Users' Group, welcomed the plans.

He said: "It looks really nice. I like the idea of sitting on a seat on the wildflower meadow on a summer evening when I’m waiting for a train home.

"It looks like a proper station, a pleasant place to spend a little time, with all the facilities."

But he said he was left with two questions - what the walking routes between the station and the city centre would be like and how any ticket barriers would fit with "this lovely open space".

He said: "At the moment ticket barriers do seem to be the ‘flavour of the month’. They do make some sense at stations, like Bradford Forster Square, where most of the passengers are commuting on local trains - but it would be a shame to lose the sense of space."

And James Vasey, of Bradford Rail Users' Group, said the "ambitious" development was extremely welcome.

He said: "The station re-development at Forster Square is cosmetic, but welcomed. The old lift and stairwell will be replaced with two open-frame lift shafts, though we note no walking route, potentially through the meadow, is proposed.

"There is also no planned retail or station ticketing offer on the Cheapside entrance, or a wood and glass canopy, which we would like to have seen.

"We need to really 'shout about' the station directly below and draw passengers in.

"The pods that will be installed under the archways will be a welcome development, and we would encourage the council to consider deploying more along the route to the Midland Hotel making the most use of the available archways and a wonderful welcome as people enter the city and Broadway."

He said he would also like to see a ticket barrier incorporated to reduce fare-dodging.

Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of the Conservative group at Bradford Council, said it was great that the redesign was on the cards, thanks to "some nice central government funding".

But he said the really good news was the increase in direct trains to London.

He said: "That's great, and its an indication that instead of trying to increase capacity from Leeds, we are increasing capacity by using Bradford. That is really good news for the city."