Railway link across city would be possible – at cost of £140m

A cross-city rail link in Bradford is likely to be feasible but would cost at least £140m –according to a report.

Bradford Councillor John Pennington and property developer Andrew Mason have submitted a proposal to Bradford Council for a rail link across the city centre between the Caldervale line and the Airedale/Wharfedale line plus an "iconic" new central station.

According to initial investigations, the suggested rail link is likely to be "technically feasible" but would sever the city centre and isolate the Little Germany area.

The report, which will be considered by Bradford Council's Regeneration and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, also says that the high cost of the proposal – a minimum of 140m – is unlikely to be met in full or in major part from the Department for Transport "as a cost benefit assessment is likely to reveal poor value for money in transport terms."

It also points out that the Leeds City Region Transport Strategy has indicated that the district's rail priorities should include improved rolling stock, the electrification of the Caldervale line and new stations at Low Moor, Apperley Bridge and, at a later stage, Manningham.

Furthermore, a Bradford cross rail scheme is not considered necessary "to satisfy an existing or likely future rail demand in the next 20 years," according to the key rail blueprint for the region.

The report says: "Although the rail operators have indicated that they may be willing to introduce some new services, analysis has suggested that there is very limited travel demand for a cross rail link – there are only a relatively small number of trips across Bradford and between Calderdale and Airedale/Wharfedale that would benefit – most other journeys in the city region would be quicker via Leeds and there would be little scope to attract longer distance journeys."

However, Councillor Pennington said he was encouraged by the findings of the report, which involved work by officers from Bradford Council and a rail specialist from Metro.

Councillor Pennington, who represents the Bingley ward, said: "I felt from the report of the regeneration department a certain warmth towards our scheme and I can build on that warmth.

"I am grateful to them for going through the proposals in such great detail because they have clearly given the matter a lot of thought instead of previous applications just being ignored.

"The doubters of the scheme are by and large people who do not understand what the scheme entails, means or could do for Bradford's regional economy. Bradford has the fastest-growing population of any city in the UK and Bradford is going to be unable to provide employment for all those youngsters that are coming through, so the next best thing – and a legacy we must leave – is a transport infrastructure that will allow people to travel to employment."

Due to the way the railway network developed during the 19th century, there are two stations in the city centre – Forster Square and Bradford Interchange.

The latest proposal suggests a new line linking the existing Caldervale and Airedale lines passing through the site of the proposed magistrates' court development – where a new station is proposed – taking a section of the stalled-Westfield development site in front of St Peter's House and involving the demolition of the Royal Mail sorting office and a small part of the Forster Square Retail Park.

The report also notes: "Improvements are needed to both stations and to the public realm link between them and it is suggested that this should be the focus of investment."

The committee will be asked to consider the issues raised by initial investigations when it meets next week. Members will be advised against pursuing more detailed investigations into the feasibility of providing a cross rail link.