The opening of a second Bradford to London rail link later this month is yet another indication of the resurgence of railways.

This follows the wholesale closure of them following the Reshaping Of British Railways report in March 1963 by Dr Richard Beeching, chairman of the nationalised British Railways.

His recommendations to end duplication included closing more than 2,000 stations, scrapping some 5,000 miles of track, getting rid of 300,000 goods wagons and shedding 70,000 jobs.

The closures, brought in by Conservative Transport Minister Ernest Marples, shifted the emphasis of personal travel and freight from rail to road, decimating railways in the Bradford region.

Marples, who gave the go ahead for the M1 motorway in 1959, owned a road construction company called Marples-Ridgeway. The axe, partly to counter trade union militancy on the railways, led to the closure of dozens of stations and goods yards, from Hipperholme to Addingham, Queensbury to Horsforth.

Since then, more than 350 stations have opened or been reopened nationally, 22 in and around the Bradford district. On the Airedale line alone, since 1973, Baildon, Cononley, Crossflatts, Saltaire and Steeton & Silsden have reopened for passengers.

A new station is planned for Apperley Bridge, and Low Moor, Calverley and Rodley, perhaps even Manningham, are up for reopening in the future.

Clive Barton, vice-chairman of the Bradford Rail Users’ Group, welcomes the presence of the Grand Central railway company in Bradford, which will be running three daily services to London from the Interchange, none of which will go via Leeds.

“It’s long overdue and will be of great benefit to the city. It will give us two routes into London. I just hope they don’t make the fares too high,” he says.

Rupert Brennan Brown, a spokesman for Grand Central, says: “Because we don’t receive subsidy, our fares are not regulated in the same way that franchised operators are.

“A standard off-peak single fare to Kings Cross will cost £49. A return ticket will cost £67. At any other time a single will be £76 and a return £120.

“Customers should be able to buy tickets at railway booking offices in the normal way. But we do allow people to buy tickets on our trains at no extra cost. We are certainly not moving towards online booking only.

“We found on our Sunderland to Kings Cross route that passengers really like to buy tickets on trains.”

But can Grand Central, which opened that route in December 2007, make a go of the business without public handouts?

“What we are reliant on is a loyal customer base. Therefore we have to work that little bit harder to make sure that people come back to us.

“We always wanted to operate a service to London from Bradford via Halifax because we think there is a demand,” he adds.

The first train – black with an orange flash – is scheduled to pull out of the Interchange on Sunday, May 23.

Bradford railway author Mark Neale, whose book Along More Familiar Lines is due out this summer, thinks the opening of Grand Central’s office at Broadway House, Bank Street, is the first since the mergers 87 years ago.

He says: “I would think the last time a railway company opened offices in Bradford would be after the ’grouping’ in 1923, when the Midland and Lancashire & Yorkshire became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), and the Great Northern and North Eastern became part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).”

Mr Barton says the Regrouping Act of 1923 was brought in following a dispute between railway companies and central government over the latter’s non-payment of bills for services rendered during the First World War.

“They had railway workshops making vehicles for the Army. After the war they virtually gave away the vehicles to demobbed soldiers. That’s how trucking started. The Government did it on purpose to break the monopoly of the railways,” he adds.

Some things don’t change. In 1975, just before the start of the tax year, Ernest Marples, no longer an MP, fled Britain with his belongings crammed into tea chests.

He said he had been asked to pay nearly 30 years’ overdue tax. The Treasury froze his assets. The man who scrapped a third of Britain’s railways died three years later.