Bradford Council

Securing £2bn for a new railway station in Bradford and levelling up the UK’s City Of Culture

Bradford is the UK’s sixth biggest city, and its youngest. It has a proud heritage as the former “wool capital of the world”, rich diversity, and a number of world-class cultural assets.

However, it also has significant challenges such as low economic productivity, and a lack of high-value jobs, which have in part been created by Bradford’s poor inter-city rail connections.

These challenges have been exacerbated by a visibility problem: people, particularly in the south, simply don’t know or talk about Bradford. This matters, particularly at a time when the government is calling “levelling up” it’s central mission and was encouraging competitive bidding for levelling up funding. This visibility and perception issue also matters to would-be private-sector investors.

We have helped Bradford shape its strategic narrative.

We have used our unique data-led insights to give Bradford an evidence base for the story it needs to tell the world: a story not so much of need, but of opportunity.

Our communications strategy has been firmly targeted at positioning Bradford as a major UK city and highlighting it’s potential for investment from Government and private sector investors.

On levelling-up, we identified the need to capitalise on Bradford being identified as the UK’s number one levelling up opportunity.

We have worked with our network of MPs and senior business leaders and authored and place comment and thought leadership pieces in high-profile and high-impact publications such as The Financial Times, Times Red Box, The Telegraph, BBC and Conservative Home.

We have also helped Bradford create, refine and present investment proposals to Government, including a policy calling on Government to create designated Levelling Up Investment Areas – with unique payback funding models and fast-tracked planning processes.

Our Levelling Up Investment Area proposal won support from within 10 Downing Street and was championed within the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Our work to highlight Bradford’s transport needs included Be The Best Communications creating a unique study which analysed more than 3,000 rail journeys between the major cities in the UK, and compared their average speeds to that of a car driver taking the comparable road route.

This proved that Bradford – despite its central location among key northern cities – had the worst inter-city connections in the country.

This work gathered significant national news coverage in The Times, Daily Mail, ITV and Financial Times and has been at the heart of attempts to get the government to overturn its decision to cancel Northern Powerhouse Rail, and with it a new high-speed Transpennine station in Bradford.

Be The Best Communications rail data study was highlighted as evidence of the need to improve Bradford rail connectivity by the chair of the Transport Select Committee Huw Merriman MP in his inquiry to the Integrated Rail Plan.

Since leaving his role as chair of the Transport Select Committee to become Rail Minister Huw Merriman has consistently spoken of his intent to deliver a new railway station in Bradford.

In June 2023, Mr Merriman said that potential plans for a new railway station in Bradford were expected to be revealed soon.

In October 2023 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the Government would spend £2 billion on a new railway station in Bradford along with a new railway line to improve rail connectivity to Manchester.