A SUBTERRANEAN station beneath Bradford city centre is one of the options being looked at for bringing high-speed rail to Bradford, the Telegraph & Argus can exclusively reveal.

As momentum gathers behind the idea of including Bradford on a high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds, global consultancy firm Arup has been commissioned to investigate how this could be done.


The T&A has found out that the possible options being explored include:

  • A through line for Bradford city centre for the first time in its history;
  • Bringing the high-speed line underneath the existing city, using tunnels, cuttings, or both;
  • A new underground high-speed platform built beneath Bradford Interchange;
  • Possible pedestrian subways linking this to Bradford Forster Square station.

The study has been commissioned by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which is keen to make the case for a high-speed station in the city centre, rather than a parkway station in a suburb.

The consultants will explore various options before working up a detailed proposition, while also setting out the economic benefits of the scheme.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, who leads on transport matters at Bradford Council, said they could make a strong case that the more expensive city centre option could come with greater economic benefits, while also stressing that it was high time for “getting Bradford off a branch line” and building its first through-route.

He said: “Yes, it’s not cheap to build a tunnel and we accept it’s going to cost more to put a Bradford station on, but it will produce such a benefit to the whole of the north.”

Bhupinder Dev, team leader for local development documents, said a high-speed stop would be “transformational” for central Bradford, pointing out the wider redevelopment of Leeds’ South Bank triggered by plans for a HS2 hub there.

He said there were “opportunities for us to be very creative” when exploring ideas for getting high-speed rail into Bradford city centre.

Julian Jackson, assistant director for planning, transportation and highways at the Council, said: “We haven’t ruled out cuttings, tunnels and other ways it could come into the city centre.”

The feasibility study will be fed back to working group Transport for the North (TfN) which has been given £60 million of Government funding to draw up proposals for a high-speed link between Leeds and Manchester, which is now called Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Although a Bradford stop is still only described as a possibility, a local campaign to add the city to the line has won the backing of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, among others.

In a major speech on Saturday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell also announced a Labour government would build a "Crossrail of the North", slashing travel times between east and west.

TfN and Network Rail are now understood to be considering either a city centre stop or a parkway station further out, as they prepare firm proposals to put to the Department for Transport later this year.

A TfN spokesman said: “Transport for the North are working with Network Rail to investigate options for the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, which include possible links to Bradford.

“WYCA commissioned the Arup study but we will use its conclusions to inform decisions about the right options for the Northern Powerhouse Rail network.

“Our partnership board will weigh up costs, engineering feasibility and benefits to the economy of the whole of the North as they decide which options to recommend to government.”

Plans to transform Bradford Forster Square station remain on track 

The Bradford Chamber of Commerce has been heavily involved in lobbying transport chiefs for a high-speed stop for Bradford.

President, Andy Caton, said high-speed rail was “critical to the long-term future of the city”.

He said: “It’s now up to Arup to do the technical and feasibility studies necessary before a decision is taken; but proximity to the centre is important, and there have been no financial projections done as yet - so that clearly may have a bearing on things.

“Underground construction, while being landscape-friendly, is notoriously expensive and often fraught with engineering complications.

“It’s also questionable whether the city can sustain three stations and so we’d favour a new one dovetailing with one of the existing ones. In the meantime, it’s great to see that Bradford is now getting a proper hearing for its case.”

Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of the opposition Conservatives at Bradford Council, said the plans under discussion were “genuinely exciting for Bradford”.

But he warned they were “a long way from having this nailed on”.

He said: “I think it’s really good news that this kind of work is happening because this is about trying to make a detailed case for there being a high speed station in Bradford.

“From that point of view, this is exactly what the Combined Authority should be doing, this kind of feasibility work.”

Cllr Cooke said a long section of the HS1 link from London to the Channel Tunnel was underground, and this approach alleviated the need for complex land-acquisition processes.

He said: “It’s perfectly possible to build tunnels and in the long-term it is a less disruptive approach.”

However, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of Bradford’s Liberal Democrat group and a member of the Combined Authority, has questioned why all the work seemed to be being “done in private”.

She said: “There has been no public report that says, these are some options and this is how we are exploring the options.”

She said she was also yet to see any public argument about exactly how a high-speed station would be “a game-changer for Bradford”.