Improved rail routes to Manchester Airport via Bradford could be created as part of plans to strengthen the Yorkshire rail network unlocking £12 billion of economic benefits for the region.

A report, titled the Yorkshire Rail Network Study, is calling on Network Rail to consider and plan improvements to the Yorkshire network.

Commissioned by Metro – the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) – the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Leeds City Region, the report has identified what needs to be done to routes and stations to improve them, resulting in quicker journeys, improved business links, better commuter services and more capacity for freight.

If the report gets backing from the transport authorities, pressure will be applied to Network Rail to consider the report as it plans its projects and spending until 2019.

Councillor Michael Ellis, Metro’s Bradford spokesman, said: “Bradford’s rail connections are important to the developments which could result from this study, and it is vital that Network Rail gives it full consideration as it plans its future spending.”

The study backs early delivery of the Northern Hub Strategy, including the south Trans-Pennine and Calder Valley routes which will benefit journeys to Manchester and Manchester Airport from Bradford and Sheffield.

It will also allow new destinations to be served, for example from Bradford to Manchester Airport via Rochdale.

Connections provided by key rail corridors including York to Manchester, via Leeds and Huddersfield, Leeds to Manchester via Bradford and Halifax, the Calder Valley route, Leeds to Sheffield and beyond, and Doncaster to Manchester via Sheffield could also be improved.

Stations in Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Manchester and Halifax, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Wakefield could also be enhanced.

James Vasey, chairman of Bradford Rail User Group (BRUG), warned that the electrification of the Leeds-Huddersfield-Manchester line would improve connectivity for West Yorkshire, but would leave south Bradford, New Pudsey, Interchange, the proposed Low Moor station and Halifax as a diesel backwater, compared to the modern electrified railway in north of the city.

He also welcomed proposed direct links to Manchester airport, but added: “But still there are no concrete developments for any link – of any type to our local Leeds Bradford Airport.”

Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail User Group (AVRUG), said: “There is scope to link the investment with changes in working practices that will enable the railway to provide better value for the money invested.”