Yorkshire and the Humber
Bradford Forster Square
Skipton (some services continue to Carlisle or Lancaster)
|Rolling stock||British Rail Class 333 (majority of services)|
|No. of tracks||2|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Airedale Line is the name given to one of the rail services in the Metro area centred on West Yorkshire in northern England. The service is operated by Northern Rail, on the route connecting Leeds and Bradford with Skipton. Some services along the line continue to Morecambe or Carlisle. The route covered by the service was historically part of the Midland Railway.
The route and its history
The first section, between Leeds and Bradford (Forster Square station), was opened by the Leeds and Bradford Railway on 1 July 1846. During the Beeching Axe in the 1960s, a number of stations were closed, however the line and its major stations remained open. Some of the closed stations, such as Saltaire, were re-opened during the 1980s.
In 1991 under British Rail, the line was electrified at 25 kV AC Overhead between Leeds and Skipton, and new British Rail Class 333 trains were introduced in the early 2000s. Investment in the line has seen passenger numbers grow, and now overcrowding on trains is a problem.
The route is described below. The line originally included a number of stations which are now closed:
- Leeds – the station was named Leeds (Wellington) to differentiate it from the other main line stations in the city, belonging to the North Eastern Railway (NER)
- Armley Canal Road
- Kirkstall Forge – closed but planned to be reopened in 2015
- Newlay and Horsforth
- Calverley and Rodley
- Location of Apperley Junction for the Wharfedale Line
- Apperley Bridge & Rawdon – closed but planned to be reopened in 2015
- Location of Thackley Tunnel
- This is the location of the triangular junction for the branch line serving Shipley and Bradford Forster Square. The main line, which was opened from here to Skipton by the Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway in 1847, continues:
- Location of Bingley tunnel
- Steeton & Silsden
- Kildwick and Crosshills
The line today
- Zone 1
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Steeton & Silsden
- Zone 7 (from 17 May 2009)
- Cononley to Skipton
Recent Network Rail reports have looked at ways of increasing capacity on the line. Because of the difficulty of lengthening platforms at Shipley, it will be hard to introduce longer trains (i.e. 5 or 6 carriages) as is being proposed on the neighbouring Wharfedale Line. It is therefore proposed to run more trains per hour between Leeds and Keighley, with a new platform at Keighley to accommodate this. New stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge between Leeds and Skipton via Shipley are due to open in 2012.
Virgin Trains East Coast currently operate a small number of daily services on the line, between Skipton/Bradford and London King's Cross. These are operated by InterCity 225's. East Coast, Virgin Trains East Coast's predecessor, wanted to run more frequent services from December 2009 but to do so the line would need more capacity.
A recent report by Modern Railways claimed that a solid hourly service would operate on the line as far as Long Preston, but would serve Carlisle and Lancaster alternately. It may also become a freight artery to improve capacity on the West Coast Main Line. Network Rail's own latest plans involve new signalling and other improvements for the sections of the line beyond Skipton. Carlisle services will be increased to a basic two hour pattern with extra services to 'fill in the gaps' at peak times during the day to give a 1 train/h frequency. Lancaster services will also be made more frequent, however it has been suggested they will be terminated at Skipton in future, rather than continuing through to Leeds as at present. All of these plans are still dependent on getting enough government funding.
- Kilner, Will (22 October 2008). "Major revisions planned for Airedale and Wharfedale rail lines". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- Meneaud, Marc (8 February 2010). "Passenger watchdog and MP demand action on Aire Valley and Wharfedale routes". Telegraph & Argus. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- "NR Strategic Business Plan for North and West Yorkshire" (PDF).
- "‘High-speed rail bid could be derailed’". Telegraph & Argus. 2 July 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
- "Lancashire and Cumbria RUS" (PDF).