Rail chiefs have announced an £8 million investment package to improve tracks in and around Bradford Interchange to speed up trains in and out of the city.

Network Rail is to push ahead with major plans to revamp busy Mill Lane Junction on the approach to the station.

The improvements will create extra capacity through the junction, allowing trains to travel along the section more quickly and passengers to reach their destinations sooner.

And the investment in the junction will result in a significant boost to plans to reopen Low Moor Station.

One of the major obstacles standing in the way of the proposed Low Moor Station has revolved around the time-tabling of creating an extra stop on the Bradford to Halifax route. But increased line speed on the approach to Bradford Interchange would go some way to cancelling out time lost when trains stop at the extra station.

Bradford Councillor Stanley King, vice-chairman of Metro, the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority, said: "The modernisation of Mill Lane Junction will allow trains to enter and leave the Interchange more quickly.

"This will be a factor in pushing for a station at Low Moor. It is great news and will see a move from 1950s technology to the 21st Century."

Coun King said the existing lay-out of the junction meant trains leaving Bradford had to cross from one track to another at low speed before heading off to Leeds or Halifax.

"I hope the changes will iron out this time-consuming process, with gentler curves allowing outward-bound trains to gather speed before facing uphill gradients," he said.

Alec Suchi, of Bradford Rail Users Group, said: "One of the concerns about reopening Low Moor has been the time-tabling implications, with stopping at Low Moor creating extra journey times.

"By Mill Lane junction being made more efficient, those savings could be taken into account when considering the effect of a stop at Low Moor.

"This improves the possibility of Low Moor being reopened. It is gathering momentum but we won't be complacent until it's actually built."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "In all it's going to come to about £8m and that includes a lot of work around the junction and there's some work to be done in the station to the buffers that need replacing.

"It's going to take place in a couple of stages - the track works and then the signalling works. It's definitely going to happen but we are just in the process of nailing down the date for when the track enhancements are going to start."