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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

£24 million boost boost for Bradford’s Forster Square Station with new London services

A new platform at Bradford’s Forster Square Station, funded through a £24 million boost from the Government, will allow up to five extra London services a day to come to the city centre.

Work on the platform is due to start this Spring, and be completed by the end of the year – and the new LNER services could be introduced by May 2025 during Bradford’s City of Culture year.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman announced the funding for the extra platform during a visit to Bradford today, where he said the “ambitious timeline” was needed to have the station ready for City of Culture.

He visited the station with Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe and representatives from Network Rail and LNER – which will run the new services if the Treasury signs off on a new timetable.

He said the platform would “reduce delays and futureproof the station for generations to come” and would ease congestion and improve access to the city for passengers, commuters and tourists.

The extra services would more than triple the current provision at the station, and the services could also stop in Shipley.

The extra platform will be built at the side of the station closest to Forster Square Retail Park. It means the station will expand outwards by a few metres, and the platform construction will require Network Rail to purchase a strip of land from retail park owners British Land.

Due to the work taking place on the edge of the station, it is not expected to cause any major disruption or closures.

Last year, Mr Merriman visited Bradford after the Government’s announcement that the city would get a new £2 billion station – mooted to be on the current St James Market site.

When asked if Bradford’s City of Culture status had played a role in the decision to fund the new platform, Mr Merriman said: “City of Culture helps provide the rationale for doing this right now.

“We know Forster Square needs a new platform, and this will be delivered by the end of the year.”

He referred to the £2 billion announced for a new Bradford station last year, saying: “That investment will take time to be delivered, but people in Bradford want to see tangible changes now – this will be one of those changes. The platform will have the potential for an extra five services to London a day.”

Gesturing to where the platform would be built he said: “You can see a wall of buddleia now, by the end of the year you will see a new platform. It is an ambitious timeline, but we want this to be ready for the City of Culture.

“If you don’t have the infrastructure in place, you can’t deliver the trains.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to secure this new investment from Government. It’s good to see they now recognise the value of Bradford being better connected to the entire Northern economy. The new platform at Forster Square Station will provide much-needed additional capacity and connectivity for Bradford in time for the district’s year as City of Culture in 2025 and for generations to come enabling greater mobility and access to opportunity across the district.

“The infrastructure will be ready by the end of this calendar year, then the extra services need to be signed off by the treasury. The Government has funded the new platform, so it needs to fund the new train timetables.”

She said the new trains would likely be introduced in the May 2025 timetable, adding: “Being a City of Culture opened more doors for us. The impetus for us getting this was City of Culture.”

Warrick Dent, LNER’s Safety & Operations Director, said the Bradford to London trains were a profitable route, and the extra routes were also expected to prove popular.

He added: Our timetable plans will be announced nearer the time, and need approval by the Department for Transport, but we would expect to see a big increase in the number of LNER services.

“It’s particularly exciting that the changes should happen during Bradford City of Culture 2025.”

Anna Weeks from Network Rail said the platform would allow existing services to run alongside the new services.

She said: “Construction will start in Spring, and we’re already doing ground surveys.

“Once we finish building there will be safety evaluations which will take place early next year.”

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