A RAILWAY signal box that has stood at the throat of Bradford Interchange for many decades is due to close next year, rail chiefs have revealed.

The traditional lineside signal box, at the city’s Mill Lane Junction, is among six across West Yorkshire that are set to be shut.

The others are at Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield, Healey Mills near Ossett, and Milner Royd near Sowerby Bridge.

Sections of track currently controlled by the doomed signal boxes will be ‘recontrolled’ to a state-of-the-art Rail Operating Centre in York.

The changes are part of the Great North Rail Project, a large-scale programme of improvements to transform train travel for passengers in the North.

When asked about the timescale for the signal box closures and any possible redundancies in Bradford, a Network Rail spokesman said: “The signalling programme is taking part in two phases, the first finishes in January 2018.

“After this phase, the signal boxes at Huddersfield and Healey Mills will be shut and control moved to York. The remaining boxes, including Mill Lane Junction, will be shut and control switched over to York in October 2018.

“In terms of people who work there (Mill Lane) now, there are no compulsory redundancies. Those who work in the box are being offered other roles within Network Rail.”

The project is perhaps the most significant overhaul of Bradford’s railway signalling system since 1973, when the current station opened to replace Bradford Exchange.

At that point, all semaphore signals were abolished and the new colour light signalling system was installed, with those lights controlled by a panel in Mill Lane signal box, with full track circuiting extending to Bowling Junction, with all points being motor operated.

Network Rail says the latest upgrade is expected to result in more modern, cost-effective and reliable services, but the work will also bring short-term disruption to rail passengers in West Yorkshire.

The next significant works are due to take place on Saturday, October 28 and Sunday, October 29.

During this weekend, both Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations will be closed, with no train services travelling through them.

TransPennine Express and Northern will operate up to 25 buses per hour to keep passengers moving between Leeds, Manchester, Halifax, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Stalybridge and Bradford.

Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “We appreciate that there is never a good time to disrupt passengers and we are advising anyone wishing travel to plan their journeys ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

“The signalling system in this part of West Yorkshire is approaching the end of its operational life and this investment will increase reliability, thereby reducing delays, while cutting the cost of running the railway for the taxpayer.”

Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern, said: “This vital work is the latest part of the Great North Rail Project which is transforming the rail infrastructure across the north of England."

The Airedale and Wharfedale lines are not part of this project.