On the eve of more bank holiday chaos on the roads, the time is right to look at recent railway developments in the Bradford district.

On May 23 last year, Bradford got its first new rail service to King’s Cross for 30 years. Grand Central’s thrice-daily service, taking a route via Halifax to Doncaster and then non-stop to London, proved especially popular when the company offered a return ticket for just £25 in February and March.

Now, almost a year on from the first train out of the Interchange, Grand Central hopes to be able to cut future journey time to Doncaster by 15 to 20 minutes.

Grand Central spokesman Rupert Brennan Brown says: “We also put in a request to the Office of Rail Regulation that we no longer stop at Pontefract and call instead at Mirfield. That would cut the journey time by at least 15 minutes.

“The route from Bradford to Doncaster is challenging. We are talking to Network Rail about having a line speed of 70mph instead of 50mph, but there are so many other services using the route.”

Grand Central’s initiative has been followed by Alliance Rail Holdings bid to operate a two-hourly service, using 125mph tilting trains, between Bradford and London’s Euston Station on the West Coast line.

The company plans to submit a fresh application later in the year following a knock-back to its original application by the Office of Rail Regulation last month.

A faster rail link through the Calder Valley to Manchester, Cheshire and other parts of Lancashire would be welcome. At present, the average journey from the Interchange to Manchester Victoria stops at nine stations and takes at least an hour, depending on the service.

More rail routes, however, won’t benefit rail commuters on the over-populated Airedale and Wharfedale lines. Northern Rail’s services between Skipton, Ilkley, Leeds and Bradford are often subject to delays and occasionally cancellation due, in part, to mechanical failure.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond’s recent announcement of £10 million extra investment in West Yorkshire’s railways by the end of the year has been generally welcomed by rail-users groups in Wharfedale and Airedale.

Northern Rail said the extra investment would mean an extra eight carriages a day, every day, on the Skipton-to-Leeds and Leeds-to-Ilkley trains. Extra seats and standing capacity are also planned for the Leeds-to-Manchester Victoria via Bradford Interchange route.

Clive Barton, vice-chairman of the Bradford Rail Users’ Group, says: “Those extra carriages are needed because we have serious overcrowding on the Leeds-Skipton and Leeds-Ilkley corridors.

“I understand that when timetable changes come in this December, trains between Leeds and Skipton are likely to run every 20 minutes. It’s every 30 minutes now. Not so long ago it was an hourly service.”

Bradford Council’s Conservative councillor Chris Greaves, chairman of Metro, has already made public his belief that extra passenger provision will help Metro’s proposals to open stations at Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor.

He says: “Low Moor will cost in the region of £6.5 million to £7 million. We are going to put in for planning permission in the next couple of months. That could open in December 2013.

“The cost will be met by a mixture of old regional transport board money and the sale of 24 railway carriages that Metro owns. We are going to sell them to a train-leasing company and put the money into Low Moor and Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge.

“Metro will be putting in a revised offer to the Government for the two stations by September. Total cost is approximately £20 million, but more than £4 million of that will be coming from a private developer – there are massive housing and commercial schemes planned for Kirkstall Forge. This is real money from outside the public sector.”

Councillor Greaves said the Government had 22 railway schemes to choose from. He expects a decision about Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall by the end of the year.