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Call for faster progress on Leeds Bradford airport rail link bid
An influential business group is calling for faster progress on plans to establish a rail link to Leeds-Bradford International Airport.
Bradford Breakthrough, which represents leading private and public sector businesses, has made the rail link one of its key strategic priorities for the coming year.
Its call comes as Bradford Council’s executive this week discusses a new £1 billion West Yorkshire transport fund, which could provide a source of cash for the airport link.
Bradford Breakthrough chief executive, Colin Philpott, said: “Other competitor cities, like Manchester and Newcastle, have much speedier and easier links to their local airports.
“It is vital for businesses and for local people in Bradford district and other parts of West Yorkshire to be able to access their airport by rail. It is also important that Bradford district specifically benefits from any rail link.”
The rail link proposal is envisaged as a train or tram route and the scheme favoured by Bradford Breakthrough would involve linking the existing Harrogate and Wharfedale lines by building a new stretch from Horsforth to Guiseley, with a station at the airport.
Cost estimates vary from £100 million to £300 million, depending on the type of link chosen. It would enable direct links by train from Bradford, Ilkley and other places in Bradford district to the airport, but would also provide better rail links from the district to Harrogate, York and other parts of the Yorkshire rail network.
Mr Philpott said: “We have announced this priority now as the issue of transport funding is being actively discussed by local authorities and the Government also wants to improve infrastructure to help boost the economy.
“Whatever scheme is hopefully eventually decided upon, we want to ensure it provides direct benefits to Bradford district.
“Our call is part of our new policy of being more pro-active as a group. There are a number of other priority areas on which we will be making announcements in the near future.”
Leeds Bradford International Airport chief executive, John Parkin, said “We welcome Bradford Breakthrough’s support for the idea of a rail link to the airport.
“The plans not only support the long-term development of the airport, but also improve rail links across the entire Yorkshire region.”
Bradford Breakthrough represents more than 20 major organisations in the city. Its aim is to help make Bradford a better place to live, work, do business, invest and visit.
Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council’s executive member for housing, planning and transport, said: “Significant work has already been undertaken on the plan.
“All the authorities involved now need to commit to the next stages.”