Businesses from across the North have come out in support of Bradford’s ambitions to better connect its city centre through Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

December sees the submission of Transport for the North’s (TfN) strategic case for NPR to the Department for Transport (DfT), in which Bradford has been calling for city centre station on the new line between Manchester and Leeds. Northern business leaders are backing this call and stressing the importance of a Bradford city centre station to ensure NPR has the greatest impact on the region and the country.

Since the Next Stop Bradford campaign launched in 2017, over 500 business, community and political leaders, as well as members of the public, have pledged their support to help secure a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford city centre.

Independent research revealed in March showed that securing a Bradford city centre NPR station would not only reduce journey times and increase capacity, but it would add a further £15.5bn to the northern economy, generating an additional 15,000 FTE jobs across the Leeds City Region.

The NEC Group has recently been selected as the operating partner for the Bradford Live development in the former Odeon building in Bradford city centre. Paul Thandi, CEO of NEC Group, said:

“The NEC Group’s investment in a live music, entertainment and events venue in the centre of Bradford demonstrates our long-term commitment to the city. We’ve seen first-hand at our venues in Birmingham the difference the right infrastructure and transport links can make. An NPR station in Bradford city centre will truly help connect Bradford with wider audiences across the West Yorkshire region, maximising the economic impact of investment into the city centre. As such we are firm supporters of the Next Stop Bradford campaign.”

Kevin Bell, Partner in the Transport Team at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, said: “As a firm, we are committed to promoting the strengths of the North and Bradford is at the heart of our vision. Bradford is already a city on the up and we believe that a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford city centre is vital in adding momentum to the city’s regeneration, further harnessing its economic potential and ultimately making Bradford an even more desirable place to live and work.

“This investment will undoubtedly transform Bradford and it is important that we all continue to shout loud about Bradford’s case and seize this opportunity for the city.”

Victoria Robertshaw, Co-owner of Keelham Farm Shop in Thornton, said: “As a business, we’ve had roots in Bradford for more than 40 years and have built a fantastic network of farmers and producers from the city and right across the North of England. The transformation of the city through continued investment in transport and infrastructure is vital, and the Next Stop Bradford campaign has our full support.

“Through Northern Powerhouse Rail we have an opportunity, once again, for the city to be central to the future of growth of the region.”

Recognising the importance of the private sector support for Bradford’s High-Speed Rail ambitions, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, added:

“It’s fantastic to have the backing of the private sector for our Northern Powerhouse Rail ambitions and to hear so many businesses, across different sectors, actively voicing the need for this transport investment in our city centre.

“Northern Powerhouse Rail will be the catalyst our city centre needs to thrive, connecting Britain’s youngest city to the rest of the country and opening up opportunities for trade, investment, jobs, skills and business growth.

“We look forward to working with TfN as their plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail progress to ensure Bradford secures a city centre station as part of the mainline network.”

The Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for Northern Powerhouse Rail is due to be submitted to the Department for Transport in December 2018, with an announcement on its findings following soon after.

For the latest updates on the campaign, please follow @nxtstopbradford and #NextStopBradford on Twitter.