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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

“Inappropriate” for Council to buy the disused Wortley Curve rail line at the current time

It would be “inappropriate” for Bradford Council to buy the disused Wortley Curve rail line at the current time – a councillor has been told.

The stretch of line in Leeds was once used to link Bradford to Wakefield – without the need to pass through Leeds city centre.

But the route was shut in 1985, and although the rail line is still in place it is currently overgrown.

Last month Railway Paths Ltd, a charity that owns and manages former railway land, listed the three-acre Wortley Curve site in an online auction.

The land has a £15,000 guide price.

The online auction listing, by Pugh Auctioneers, says the three-acre stretch of land is “suitable for a variety of different uses.”

The auction began today and ends on Wednesday (31 January).

Over the years there have been numerous calls for the line to be reinstated as a way of improving Bradford’s notoriously poor rail connectivity.

Councillor Bob Felstead (Cons, Bingley Rural) asked about the auction at a meeting of Bradford Council last week.

The question to Council’s Executive said: “In light of the Council’s oft stated desire to improve the rail connectivity of the Bradford district, would the Portfolio clarify why the Council and/or the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have not chosen to exercise Compulsory Purchase powers to secure ownership of the Wortley Curve section of the former railway route that connected the Wakefield to Leeds line to the Bradford to Leeds line, in order protect the option to once again allow trains to travel from Bradford to Wakefield and beyond without having to pass through Leeds Station?”

The response from the Executive said: “The importance of the Wortley Curve is recognised by the Council and the opportunity it may present if the land could be brought back into use for rail, as it would represent the most direct route by rail between Bradford and Wakefield.

“The Council have raised the matter with WYCA, who – as the Transport Authority – are the responsible body for rail, and who are also in discussions with Network Rail to explore the opportunity. The land is currently going to auction and the lead bodies are in discussions with the current land owner to explore this. For several reasons, among which is that the Council is not at present promoting a project to restore the Curve, it would be inappropriate to use Compulsory Purchase powers.”

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