BRADFORD’S three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have joined forces to call on the Government to stop plans to cut key rail services in the district.

Last month Northern Rail announced services from Bradford Forster Square to Shipley, Ilkley, Keighley and Skipton would be reduced from half-hourly to hourly services from the middle of May, leading to widespread anger from rail users and politicians.

Now chair of Bradford BID Ian Ward, with the support of Ilkley and Keighley BIDs, has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to express serious concern over the plans and called on him to reconsider them.

In the letter, Mr Ward says: “We understand that these cuts are said to be ‘temporary’ but they could scarcely have been more ill-timed.

“Businesses in the city centre – as well as those in the surrounding town centres – have suffered greatly from the restrictions necessarily imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and, with current inflation levels and the soaring costs of energy, many are again struggling to survive. Indeed, several businesses have succumbed to these difficult trading conditions in recent weeks and closed their doors for good."

Helen Rhodes, manager of Ilkley BID, said: “Ilkley BID fully supports Bradford BID’s aim to try to reverse the decision to reduce these crucial rail services. Many people who visit Ilkley for shopping and eating come into the town by train and also many of our workers travel to Ilkley using these services.”

Simon Blondel, chair of Keighley BID, added: "Cutting rail services to and from Keighley is the last thing we need when we're all working so hard to get things going again after the last two years.

"Many people use these services to travel and commute between Keighley, Bradford and all the places in between. Making that harder is going to slow down the recovery."

Tony Baxter, regional director at Northern said: “We recognise that some of our customers are disappointed with the upcoming changes to their service. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused."

"Along with the rest of the industry, some amendments to the timetable will be made from May 15, 2022. For the remainder of the year, services will be reinstated where possible with the intention of a larger uplift in December 2022. These reinstatements will take us more in line with December 2021 service levels although any changes are dependent on several factors. We will share the final plans when we can.

Mr Ward added: “We fully understand Northern Rail is operating in difficult circumstances but this has come as a bitter blow to Bradford which, we feel, has been targeted for these cuts without full consideration of the economic impact on this city and district.

"We urge you to reconsider these 'temporary' proposals while there is an opportunity to avert the potential damage they will cause."