THE case for bringing high-speed rail to Bradford continues to be made amid fears the Northern Powerhouse Project (NPR) could be “severely pared back” and the city dropped from the plans.

It comes as the North awaits the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) which is soon expected to set out the Government’s vision for the region’s railways. 

Key figures met yesterday to hammer home the “transformative” impact of building the NPR link between Leeds, Bradford and Manchester at the launch of a new report by global engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald.

It claims the link, which would create a ‘megatropolis’, could deliver a £22bn boost to the Northern economy by 2060, nearly £8bn more than previously forecast.

That’s when action across skills, planning, utility provision, education, tourism, leisure and industrial policy is also taken into account as opposed to calculations using the traditional cost-benefit analysis.

Speaking during a session chaired by the Telegraph & Argus, Paul Hammond from Mott MacDonald, pointed to the “investability” of Bradford if it was connected on a high-speed route to Leeds and Manchester, opening up new opportunities and making the city a “real place to do business”.

But, he added: “Transport is a two-way street. It’s not just about people travelling out of Bradford to access opportunity, it’s about people going into Bradford, business and investment going the other way as well.”

Leaders have repeatedly made the case for why a Bradford city centre NPR station is so vital, with St James’ Market, off Wakefield Road, revealed as the proposed site earlier this year. 

A new line with a city centre station is seen as a vital part of ‘levelling up’ Bradford and the wider area, unlocking connectivity and unleashing economic potential 

Henri Murison, director of The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “At the moment, there isn’t an economic connection between the life chances of someone who is born in Bradford and someone who is born in this city [Leeds].

“Their life chances are distinctly different actually. 

“You have got a very large, very diverse city, that is economically disconnected from the prosperous, middle-class opportunities of both Manchester and Leeds.”

He said money spent on levelling up would have a “significantly diminished impact” without Northern Powerhouse Rail, while the concept of leaving the North in a better position, without significant investment in transport connectivity, would be a “lost cause”.

Mr Murison added: “This is our last chance to say clearly and assertively why it has to happen and if Government ignores it, then I think the rest of levelling up is in real trouble.”