Bradford Forster Square railway station
|Bradford Forster Square|
|View of the station from Hammstrasse|
|Local authority||City of Bradford|
|Managed by||Northern Rail|
|Number of platforms||3|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Passenger Transport Executive|
|PTE||West Yorkshire (Metro)|
|Original company||Leeds and Bradford Railway|
|1990||Rebuilt on new site|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Bradford Forster Square from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
|UK Railways portal|
Bradford Forster Square station is a railway station in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The majority of services to/from the station use Class 333 electrified trains operated by Northern Rail, on the Airedale Line to Skipton, the Wharfedale Line to Ilkley and the Leeds-Bradford Line to Leeds.
The other main railway station in the city is Bradford Interchange, about 10 minutes by foot from Forster Square, from where services operate along the Caldervale Line to Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Manchester Victoria, Blackpool and London Kings Cross. Bradford Interchange is situated at a higher level, across the city centre, than Forster Square. Although technically possible, any proposal to link the two stations together would be very expensive and cause great upheaval.
The first rail service into Bradford was opened by the Leeds and Bradford Railway on 1 July 1846. The line approached the town from the north, up Bradforddale from Shipley, and terminated at a station on Kirkgate, opposite the end of Market Street. There were hourly services to Leeds Wellington Station, and through trains to London Euston via Derby and Rugby.
In 1890, the station was again replaced. The Midland Railway's architect Charles Trubshaw designed a large complex containing the passenger station, goods station, and the Midland Hotel. The station had six platforms and an overall glazed roof of the ridge and furrow pattern; the roof was dismantled in the 1960s and replaced with utilitarian 'butterfly' awnings. The station was also used by the North Eastern Railway. The station began to be called Market Street Station at this time, but local maps and directories do not confirm this (see Station name below).
In March 1963, the Beeching Report recommended closure of all railways serving Wharfedale and of several other services out of Forster Square; in 1965, many stations closed, and local services to Leeds ceased. However, for some of the lines, the decision was deferred, and trains continued to run. In 1972, Bradford Corporation (now City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council), together with several other local authorities in the area, determined to subsidise the Wharfedale and Airedale lines. The lines have remained open, and in the ensuing years, a number of stations have been reopened. From April 1974, the new West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (now known as Metro) took responsibility for these services.
Forster Square Station was truncated in 1990, when a new station was built on the western side of the former station. The new station has three modern platforms, two of which (platforms 1 & 2) are able to accommodate intercity trains. The old station was later demolished to make way for a shopping centre called 'Broadgate'. Because of the early 1990s recession, that development was cancelled, and the site was subsequently used as a car park. A new tax office was later built on the site. Part of the screen arcade that fronted the 1890 station, as wells as the Midland Hotel, remains. In 2005, these became much more visible, when the city centre redevelopment began and Forster House was demolished. It is unclear how visible they will remain as the development continues.
The line into Forster Square was electrified in 1994, as part of the electrification of the Airedale Line and Wharfedale Line, allowing through electric trains to London via the newly electrified East Coast Main Line.
Historically, services have been as follows:
|Dates||Company or line||Preceding station||Following station|
|1846-1851||Leeds and Bradford||terminus||Manningham|
|1948-1965||British Railways/British Rail||terminus||Manningham|
|1965-1987||West Yorkshire Metro
(trains operated by British Rail)
|1987-1997||West Yorkshire Metro
(trains operated by British Rail)
|1997-2001||West Yorkshire Metro
(trains operated by Northern Spirit)
|2001-2004||West Yorkshire Metro
(trains operated by Arriva Trains Northern)
|2004-Present||West Yorkshire Metro
(trains operated by Northern Rail)
There is some disagreement about what names were used when. Most of the modern references state that one or more of them were called 'Market Street', but there is disagreement as to exactly when this name was in use:
-  says it was 'Market Street' from the rebuilding in 1890 until 1924.
-  p. 42, shows one of the three stations as 'Market Street' in red, which in that book indicates that the station and the name passed out of use before 1901.
However, contemporary sources do not seem to use the name. The Bradford Post Office Directory says that the Midland terminal is at "Station, bottom of Kirkgate" (1856, 1863, 1898) or "Station, Forster Square" (1916, 1927); only in 1928 did a directory use the name "Forster Square Station". (In contrast, from 1879/80 onward the directories show the other terminal as "Exchange Station, Drake St"). Neither  nor  gives a name for the station other than 'Midland Station', though the latter does name Exchange Station.
It seems likely that the original station was called simply 'Bradford', at least until the Lancashire & Yorkshire station opened at Drake Street in 1850. After that time it would have been the Midland Station. At some time, it apparently came to be called 'Bradford Market Street', but this does not appear to have been official. Bradshaw's July 1922 Railway Guide, in a timetable footnote refers to Market Street, giving the distance to Exchange Station.
Trains from Bradford Forster Square are operated by Northern Rail and East Coast. Most trains are run by Northern Rail; these are towards Leeds (on the Leeds-Bradford Line), Skipton (on the Airedale Line) and Ilkley (on the Wharfedale Line). During Monday to Saturday daytimes, trains operate every 30 minutes on each route. On weekday & Saturday evenings there are trains every hour to each of Skipton and Ilkley, but no trains run through to Leeds; instead a shuttle service runs between Bradford and Shipley, connecting there with Skipton - Leeds trains. Connections are also available at Shipley for longer distance trains to Morecambe & Carlisle, although direct services to both destinations sometimes operate if the Leeds route is closed for engineering work.
On Sundays, trains run hourly between Bradford and Leeds all day (until the end of service) and every two hours to both Skipton and Ilkley.
During off-peak hours most trains use platforms 1 (for Skipton) & 2 (Leeds & Ilkley) - platform 3 is mainly used during weekday peak periods and in the evening, though a spare set is usually stabled here between 09.00 & 16.00 each weekday.
- Whitaker, Alan; Myland, Brian. Railway Memories No. 4: Bradford. Bellcode Books. ISBN 1-871233-03-8.
- Sheeran, George (1994) Railway Buildings of West Yorkshire, 1812-1920 Keele, Staffs: Ryburn Publishing. ISBN 1-85331-100-6
- Dixon & Hindle 1871 Plan of the Town of Bradford, ed. Elvira Willmott 1987, as The Ryburn Map of Victorian Bradford, Keele, Staffs: Ryburn Publishing. ISBN 1-85331-004-2
- Ordnance Survey 1906 Bradford (Sheet 216.08), pub. Alan Godfrey Maps 1989. ISBN 0-85054-281-2
- Dewick, Tony (2002) Complete Atlas of Railway Station Names Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2798-6
- Firth, Gary (1997) A History of Bradford Phillimore. ISBN 1-86077-057-6
- Smith, F.W. & Bairstow, Martin The Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway Martin Bairstow. ISBN 1-871944-06-6.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
East Coast Main Line
Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway
Leeds and Bradford Railway