Bradford Forster Square railway station

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Bradford Forster Square National Rail
Bradford Forster Square.jpg
View of the railway station from Hamm Strasse
Place Bradford
Local authority City of Bradford
Coordinates 53°47′49″N 1°45′11″W / 53.7970°N 1.7530°W / 53.7970; -1.7530Coordinates: 53°47′49″N 1°45′11″W / 53.7970°N 1.7530°W / 53.7970; -1.7530
Grid reference SE163334
Station code BDQ
Managed by Northern
Number of platforms 3
DfT category C2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2011/12 Increase 2.160 million
– Interchange  Increase 36,180
2012/13 Decrease 2.044 million
– Interchange  Increase 36,485
2013/14 Steady 2.044 million
– Interchange  Increase 49,521
2014/15 Increase 2.081 million
– Interchange  Decrease 41,486
2015/16 Decrease 2.066 million
– Interchange  Decrease 39,414
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE West Yorkshire (Metro)
Zone 3
Original company Leeds and Bradford Railway
1846 Opened
1853 Rebuilt
1890 Rebuilt
1990 Rebuilt on new site
National RailUK 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 and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Bradford Forster Square railway station serves Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The majority of services to/from the railway station use Class 333 electrified trains operated by Northern, 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 on 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. The Bradford Crossrail proposal to link the two stations is currently viewed as unlikely to proceed.


View southward, towards buffer-stops in 1961
The original station being demolished and the new station under construction in 1992.

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 railway 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.[1]

The first railway station building was an imposing neoclassical building designed by William Andrews.[2]

By 1853, the Midland Railway had acquired the Leeds and Bradford, and had rebuilt the station. The new building was larger, but apparently less interesting architecturally.[2]

In 1890, the railway 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 railway 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 railway station was also used by the North Eastern Railway. The railway station began to be called Market Street Station at this time,[1] but local maps and directories do not confirm this (see Station name below).[3]

By 1906,[4] Forster Square had been built just south-east of the railway station, but the name Forster Square Station was not used until 1924.

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 railway 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 railway 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 well 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. More recently the pedestrian approach from Cheapside was redeveloped and ticket barriers installed.

Historically, services have been as follows:

Dates Company or line Preceding station Following station
1846–1851 Leeds and Bradford terminus Manningham
1851–1923 Midland terminus Manningham
1923–1948 LMS terminus Manningham
1948–1965 British Railways/British Rail terminus Manningham
1965–1987 West Yorkshire Metro

(trains operated by British Rail)

terminus Shipley
1987–1997 West Yorkshire Metro

(trains operated by British Rail)

terminus Frizinghall
1997–2001 West Yorkshire Metro

(trains operated by Northern Spirit)

terminus Frizinghall
2001–2004 West Yorkshire Metro

(trains operated by Arriva Trains Northern)

terminus Frizinghall
2004–2016 West Yorkshire Metro

(trains operated by Northern Rail)

terminus Frizinghall
2016–Present West Yorkshire Metro

(trains operated by Northern)

terminus Frizinghall

Station name[edit]

The sign outside Bradford Forster Square station in August 2007
A Class 333 unit on platform 1
A Class 144 in the old station platforms, now demolished

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:

  • According to Alan Whitaker[1] it was 'Market Street' from the rebuilding in 1890 until 1924.
  • Tony Dewick,[5] 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 the map by Dixon & Hindle [3] nor the 1906 OS map[4] 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 and Virgin Trains East Coast. Most trains are run by Northern; 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 and 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 and 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.[6]

During off-peak hours most trains use platforms 1 (for Skipton) and 2 (Leeds and 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 and 16.00 each weekday.

Virgin Trains East Coast operate one service each way per day via Leeds and the East Coast Main Line to London Kings Cross.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Whitaker, Alan; Myland, Brian. Railway Memories No. 4: Bradford. Bellcode Books. ISBN 1-871233-03-8. 
  2. ^ a b Sheeran, George (1994). Railway Buildings of West Yorkshire, 1812–1920. Keele, Staffs: Ryburn Publishing. ISBN 1-85331-100-6. 
  3. ^ a b Dixon; Hindle (1987) [1871]. Willmott, Elvira, ed. The Ryburn Map of Victorian Bradford [Plan of the Town of Bradford]. Keele, Staffs: Ryburn Publishing. ISBN 1-85331-004-2. 
  4. ^ a b Bradford. Ordnance Survey 1906. Alan Godfrey Maps. 1989. Sheet 216.08. ISBN 0-85054-281-2. 
  5. ^ Dewick, Tony (2002). Complete Atlas of Railway Station Names. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2798-6. 
  6. ^ Table 36, 37 & 38 National Rail timetable, December 2016
  7. ^ Table 26 National Rail timetable, December 2016

Further reading[edit]

  • 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. 
  • "Electrification chances to Bradford improve". RAIL. No. 100. EMAP National Publications. 13–26 July 1989. p. 8. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links[edit]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Shipley   Virgin Trains East Coast
East Coast Main Line
Frizinghall   Northern
Airedale Line
Frizinghall   Northern
Wharfedale Line
Frizinghall   Northern
Leeds-Bradford Lines
Historical railways
Manningham   Midland Railway
Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway
Manningham   Midland Railway
Leeds and Bradford Railway