Next Stop Bradford has today launched a new website which aims to increase support from businesses and residents to help secure a Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) station in Bradford city centre.

Next Stop Bradford’s aim is to ensure that Bradford, the fifth largest city in the UK with one of the fastest growing economies, secures a new “high-speed” railway station in the city centre as part of the proposed investment in better transport connectivity across the north.

Launched in early 2017, Next Stop Bradford continues to demonstrate the economic and social benefits an NPR station would bring to the city and the north. An NPR station in Bradford city centre is predicted to bring an annual economic boost of £1.3bn to the local economy, improve journey times and increase capacity on the railway network.

The campaign has already gained support from leading voices across the region including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Region LEP, Bradford and Leeds Chambers of Commerce and key businesses such as Yorkshire Building Society and The Broadway Bradford.

Through the “Pledge my support” web page residents, businesses and community leaders are encouraged to show their support for this transport investment by sharing why they believe Bradford should be included on the NPR network. This information will help demonstrate to decision makers at Transport for the North and in the Government why Bradford must be included in this major infrastructure investment.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said:

“Properly linking Bradford up with the rest of the north will enable us to reach our true economic potential and grasp the significant opportunities that could be unlocked with this level of rail investment.

“Better connectivity to major centres like Manchester and Leeds is important but it’s also about the huge economic boost it would provide to Bradford, acting as a catalyst for further regeneration in the city centre and delivering growth opportunities across the whole district.

“There’s a big prize at stake in Bradford and residents, businesses as well as politicians have a role to play in demonstrating our united support for this ambition. I encourage everyone to visit the new Next Stop Bradford website and pledge your support for investment in a Northern Powerhouse Rail Station in Bradford city centre.”

Mark Cowgill, Co-Founder & Director of Exa Networks based in Bradford city centre said:

“Shortening journey times from Bradford to Leeds to just 7 minutes and to Manchester in 20 minutes has the potential to dramatically impact the growth of businesses like ours. It would mean we could target new clients further afield, widen our access to skills and talent and boost the economy of the local area making Bradford an even more attractive place to live and work.

“That is why I am supporting the Next Stop Bradford campaign to ensure we secure the transport links that will help businesses like mine for decades to come.”

Bradford is home to over 17,000 businesses with market- leading companies such as Yorkshire Building Society, Santander and Morrisons and thriving SMEs which play a key role in the economic success of the city. As the youngest city in the UK with nearly 25% of the population under 16, the need for better transport infrastructure is critical to the future growth of the city so that people can access the jobs and business can connect with the economic opportunities of the future.

Commenting on the £300m transport investment announced by the Chancellor at Conservative Party Conference, Cllr Hinchcliffe added:

“This investment is a helpful start at better connecting our great towns and cities across the North and would help ensure planned investment in the HS2 network links up with future transport infrastructure such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, connecting Bradford, Leeds and York with cities such as Sheffield and Newcastle across the North.

“But the investment the North needs in its transport infrastructure runs into billions. Transport for the North is working on plans for the whole of the North. Once they have submitted these to Government there will be an expectation of much greater levels of investment. In the meantime, the Transpennine Upgrade and Calder Valley remain priorities for us in West Yorkshire alongside HS2 and NPR.”

Government Ministers and officials at Transport for the North are currently exploring potential route options for Northern Powerhouse Rail and analysing the cost to benefit ratio. A decision on the route is expected by the end of 2018.