NETWORK Rail’s decision to buy back a disused stretch of rail line “leaves options open” for rail improvements in Bradford, a councillor has claimed. 

But he acknowledged any new rail link involving the Wortley Curve would be “very much in the long term.”

Before it was shut in 1985, the Wortley Curve, a stretch of rail in the Wortley area of Leeds, allowed rail services to travel between Bradford and Wakefield without the need to pass through Leeds City Centre.

In recent years there have been calls for the line to re-open as a way of boosting Bradford’s poor rail connectivity.

Late last year, the three-acre stretch of land that makes up the curve was listed as one of the lots in an online auction to be held in January.

It had been listed by the site’s owners, Railway Paths Ltd, a charity that owns and manages former railway land.

It had a guide price of just £15,000, and the listing by Pugh Auctions mentioned there was Japanese Knotweed present on the site.

Bidding eventually reached £47,000 and it was eventually revealed that the successful buyer was Network Rail.

Network Rail, which owns and manages rail infrastructure across the country, said: “We can confirm that Network Rail has purchased the land at the former Wortley Curve. Plans for the future usage of the site continue to be discussed internally and with stakeholders."

Reacting to the announcement that it was Network Rail, and not a private buyer, which now owns the land, councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration, planning and transport said: “We’re pleased that Wortley Curve has been kept in public hands, as it leaves options open for infrastructure improvements in the future.

“However, that would be very much in the long term, our immediate priority is the delivery of a new platform at Forster Square ready for our year as UK City of Culture 2025 and a new station as part of the Southern Gateway to improve overall connectivity and capacity for the district.”

The new platform for Bradford Forster Square Station was announced by the Department For Transport last week. £24m will be spent on the new platform, which will allow more trains to travel to London from the station.

Government had previously pledged £2bn to Bradford for a new city centre station – part of the redevelopment of an area of the city centre between Leeds Road and Manchester Road known as the 'Southern Gateway'.