Airedale Line

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Airedale Line
Type Commuter rail
Status Open
Locale West Yorkshire
Yorkshire and the Humber
Termini Leeds
Bradford Forster Square
Skipton (some services continue to Carlisle or Lancaster)
Stations 11
Opened 1846
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Northern
Rolling stock British Rail Class 333 (majority of services)
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead catenary
Airedale Line
Calder Valley Line
Hallam Line & Pontefract Line
Calder Valley Line, Huddersfield Line,
Leeds to Bradford Lines & Wakefield Line
Harrogate Line
Kirkstall Forge
Wharfedale Line
Apperley Bridge
Wharfedale Line
Bradford Forster Square
Keighley & Worth Valley Railway
Keighley Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
Steeton & Silsden
Skipton to Ilkley Line
Yorkshire Dales Railway (freight)
Leeds to Morecambe Line

The Airedale Line is the name given to one of the rail services in the West Yorkshire Metro area centred on West Yorkshire in northern England. The service is operated by Northern, 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.

According to SELRAP, the Airedale Line is the most heavily utilised passenger route outside the South East of England.[1]

The route and its history[edit]

The first section, between Leeds and Bradford (Forster Square station), was opened by the Leeds and Bradford Railway on 1 July 1846. A number of the intermediate stations were closed in March 1965 (as a result of the Beeching Axe), however the line and its major stations remained open. Some of the closed stations, such as Saltaire, were re-opened during the 1980s.

In 1994 under Regional Railways, the line was electrified at 25 kV AC Overhead between Leeds and Skipton,[2] and new British Rail Class 333 trains were introduced in the early 2000s. Investment in the line has seen passenger numbers grow,[2] and now overcrowding on trains is a problem.[3] New stock and longer trains are to be introduced by the new Northern Rail franchisee Arriva Rail North by December 2018 to tackle this issue.[4][5]

The route is described below. The line originally included a number of stations which are now closed:

Trains of the Leeds to Morecambe Line and Settle-Carlisle Line also run along the Airedale Line from Leeds.

The line today[edit]

Apperley Bridge station opened in 2015.

The line is operated by Northern The fare structure is as follows (these show the West Yorkshire Metro rail zones):

The future[edit]

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.[7] New stations were opened at Apperley Bridge in December 2015 and Kirkstall Forge in June 2016[8]

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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[10] All of these plans are still dependent on getting enough government funding.


  1. ^ Shackleton, Andy. "At A Glance" (PDF). SELRAP - Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership. Selrap. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Kilner, Will (22 October 2008). "Major revisions planned for Airedale and Wharfedale rail lines". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Northern Franchise Improvements - DfT
  5. ^ "CAF to deliver 281 rail vehicles for Northern rail franchise in UK"Rail Technology; Retrieved 27 January 2016
  6. ^
  7. ^ "NR Strategic Business Plan for North and West Yorkshire" (PDF). 
  8. ^ "Leeds Kirkstall Forge railway station opens". BBC News. 19 June 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "'High-speed rail bid could be derailed'". Telegraph & Argus. 2 July 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "Lancashire and Cumbria RUS" (PDF). 

External links[edit]