Airedale Line

Airedale Line

The Airedale Line is the name given to one of the rail services in the West Yorkshire Metro area of northern England. The service is operated by Northern Rail, on the route connecting Leeds and Bradford with Skipton in the North of England. Some services along the line continue to Morecambe or Carlisle. The route covered by the service was part of the Midland Railway (Midland) system. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC Overhead between Leeds and Skipton.

The route & its history

The first section, between Leeds and Bradford (Forster Square station) was opened by the Leeds and Bradford Railway on 1 July 1846. The route is described below: it originally included stations serving the following places, many of 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)
* Kirkstall Forge - closed but planned to be reopened in 2010
** here is "Apperley Junction" for the Wharfedale line
* Apperley Bridge & Rawdon - closed but planned to be reopened in 2010
** here is "Thackley tunnel"
** here is the triangular junction for the branch line serving Shipley and stnlnk|Bradford Forster Square. The main line, which was opened from here to Skipton by the Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway in 1847, continues:
* Saltaire
** here is "Bingley tunnel"
* stnlnk|Bingley
* Keighley
** Here is the "Worth Valley Branch junction" to Oxenhope. The branch is now the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway heritage line.
* Steeton & Silsden
** Here the West Yorkshire Metro system ends, although the electrification and trains continue to Skipton.
* stnlnk|Cononley
* Skipton.

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

The line today

The Line is operated by the Northern Rail operating company.The fare structure is as follows (these show the Metrocard zones:
*Zone 1
** Leeds
*Zone 3
** Shipley to Crossflatts. Stations on this section also serve the Leeds-Bradford line and the Wharfedale Line
*Zone 4
** Keighley
*Zone 5
** Steeton & Silsden

Beyond this point the Metro fares do not operate.

The Future

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 [cite news|url=,%20North%20and%20West%20Yorkshire.pdf|title=NR Strategic Business Plan for North and West Yorkshire] . New stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge between Leeds and Shipley are proposed by Metro.

National Express East Coast (NXEC) currently operate a small number of daily services on the line, between Skipton/Bradford and Leeds before heading to London King's Cross. These are mostly diesel services, because the overhead electric cables on the line between Shipley and Skipton cannot support both local trains and high-speed electric services (due to the extra power needed by the locomotives). NXEC wants to run more frequent services from December 2009 but to do so would require the use of electric locomotives, which cannot happen unless the electric supply is upgraded. [cite web|url=|title=‘High-speed rail bid could be derailed’|date=2008-07-02|accessdate=2007-07-04|work=Telegraph & Argus]

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.cite news|url=|title=Lancashire and Cumbria RUS] 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.


External links

* [ Route map and timetable (2007)]

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