Bradford Interchange

Bradford Interchange update: May 2024

Purpose of this report

This report provides:

  • an overview of the current position relating to the closure of Bradford Interchange bus station, including a summary of historic maintenance and investment in the facility; and
  • sets out both the current arrangements that are in place for transport users and proposed next steps to better support travellers with a focus on providing an improved offer for residents and businesses.


Key points

  • Bradford city centre is a key economic driver and cultural hub for West Yorkshire. Public transport connectivity has played a major role in the evolution of the city centre, which is served by two rail stations and an extensive bus network. We are very concerned that the closure of the bus station has created significant disruption and impact on businesses and residents, including those with disabilities and the visually impaired, and we are seeking to address this as a matter of priority.
  • Bradford Interchange is a large and complex structure which has posed several challenges over the years due to a longstanding problem with water leakage. The bus station was constructed in the mid 1970s – and it is reaching the end of its expected 50-year lifespan. The structure is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and operate safely. 
  • Following its closure in January as a result of damage caused by severe water ingress, and concrete falling within the Interchange basement, an initial survey found that drainage issues have resulted in widespread water leakage and corrosion to steelwork, but further, more in-depth surveys were required. 
  • These are underway and the Interchange will now remain shut until at least September so that they can be completed, and a decision can be taken on next steps - either a permanent closure, partial reopening or full reopening. The options will be presented to the September meeting of the Combined Authority.
  • The Combined Authority recognises the need to continue to invest in Bradford Interchange while a long-term solution is found.
  • This investment sits alongside a wider vision for the future of bus, rail and mass transit for Bradford, including the Interchange site. Work on this is accelerating in partnership with the council and the Government.
  • The Combined Authority has invested more than £13 million, in the last decade, into repairing and maintaining the facility. The Combined Authority has committed funding to develop an estates and asset management strategy as part of preparations for bus franchising.
  • We recognise that this is now a crucial time for Bradford and that while the rail station does remain open, it represents a sub-optimal experience for rail users. As a result, an investment plan is in place now to create a rail gateway from the Interchange train station to deliver essential improvements for rail passengers in the short-term, drawing on £22 million of funding previously set aside for Bradford Interchange enhancements as part of the Transforming Cities programme.
  • Work is underway to identify sites for a possible temporary bus station fit for Bradford as UK City of Culture 2025, to be introduced as quickly as possible should the final survey reports advise on continued closure.
  • We know this has been disruptive to the people of Bradford, but at the heart of decision-making we have sought to prioritise public safety, the efficient use of taxpayers’ money, and to minimise disruption.


1. Bradford Interchange Background

1.1     The eight-acre Bradford Interchange site comprises a rail station, a bus station, a shared concourse with travel centres operated by West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Network Rail, as well as car parks, taxi rank and retail premises.

1.2     When fully open, approximately nine million passengers per year pass through the facility. The Interchange was constructed in the early 1970s and has been extended over the years. The site is on multi-levels which impedes efficient interchange between different modes of transport. The West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (PTE), which was a predecessor organisation to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority before it was formed in 2014, had ownership of the structure since it was opened until it was transferred across at that point.

1.3     The structure is a cast on-site reinforced concrete construction with part of the structure (over the lower concourse area – the front entrance from Bridge Street) being a cast on-site waffle slab. Unlike any other bus station in West Yorkshire, it is on several floors, with buses operating on concrete slabs effectively forming a bridge-like structure.

Interchange Modernisation 2000/01

1.4     By 1999 the bus station was in need of a maintenance overhaul and modernisation. The original layout was completely redesigned and it was significantly rebuilt at a cost of around £3m with works completed in 2001. These involved the removal of the glazed canopy, removal of finger island passenger waiting areas and the construction of a new bus deck level passenger concourse building with saw-tooth drive in and reverse out bus stands.

1.5     A Structural Engineer’s report at the time highlighted water seepage through the bus station deck and stated that the risk of water ingress through the slab “can be substantially reduced, although it can never be eliminated”. As a result, a decision was taken to replace the existing surfacing and waterproof membrane at a cost of around £700k. All the below deck cast iron drainage was replaced.

1.6     Whilst the functionality of the bus station has been completely redesigned over time, the original integral construction of the structure is that of early 1970’s construction which is now over 50 years old, and is equivalent to the expected design-life of a structure of this nature. 

1.7     The style of construction, effectively two connected concrete slabs, has, over time, presented the PTE and now the Combined Authority with several challenges linked with water ingress as stated. Internally this has required consistent monitoring and constant repairs and works to stem the flow of water ingress and treat areas where damage has been caused.

Interchange Masterplanning, 2016

1.8     By 2012/13 the bus carriageway was showing signs of deterioration through general use and wear and tear. Proposals for a resurfacing scheme were put forward for consideration to the former PTE. Preliminary works were undertaken but a decision was made to defer the scheme on the basis of emerging proposals to consider the wider redevelopment of the Interchange. It was agreed that a maintenance regime be adopted which would enable bus operations to continue, but without a full resurfacing scheme being taken forward.

1.9     From 2014, Bradford Council engaged in a masterplanning exercise with the former PTE to attempt to determine the best way to improve the station environment to include accessibility into and around the Interchange, retail and passenger facilities and allow for future growth within rail patronage with the potential location of a Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) station at or nearby the current existing Bradford Interchange site.

1.10   Through the West Yorkshire Transport Fund Station Gateway programme, a masterplan was developed in 2016 and recommended a series of interventions which could culminate in the complete redevelopment of the Interchange, incorporating a new NPR station.

Recent Interchange Refurbishment

1.11    In January 2018 an update was provided to the Combined Authority’s West Yorkshire and York Investment Committee in respect of the transformational schemes, including “Bradford Interchange redevelopment” which was identified as Bradford Council’s priority scheme for development. The scheme was allocated approval of £0.5m for the next stage of development.

1.12   Arising from this, and through wider activity, significant investment into the asset has taken place over the years to maintain the bus interchange facility, operational bus concourse and internal passenger and tenanted areas in good order. These have included:

  • refurbishment of the lower concourse
  • new external taxi drop-off and pick up areas
  • a new passenger concourse
  • new travel centre facilities
  • annual planned maintenance and repair works, in addition to responsive maintenance and repairs as required.

1.13   A more substantial scheme was not taken forward as an investment priority in the West Yorkshire capital programme due to uncertainty over the wider strategic rail plans for NPR and Bradford station.

1.14   A further resurfacing and waterproofing scheme was brought forward in 2020 and a drainage survey was undertaken in June 2021 to inform the works that were required to rectify the ongoing issues of water ingress. In 2022, the Combined Authority appointed contractors to carry out works to deliver a comprehensive resurfacing and re-waterproofing of the entire bus carriageway at Bradford Interchange. This also involved carrying out surveys of the exposed concrete deck and undertaking concrete and other repairs where necessary. Works have yet to complete, and once complete, the total value of funding allocated to these works from the Transforming Cities Fund will be £8.5m.

1.15   In total, recent investment into the interchange stands at £13.35m which includes the above resurfacing and waterproofing scheme as well as planned and unplanned works over the last 10 years of £4.85m, aimed at ensuring the Bus Station Interchange could continue to provide an expected level of service and safe operation to passengers.

1.16   Due to the age of the structure, effects of water ingress, and the nature and the scale of the works, concrete fall was anticipated below the area of contractor activity, and specific exclusions zones were created in the underground car park aligned to the maintenance work taking place above.


2. Closure of the Bus Interchange, January 2024

2.1     On December 23rd 2023, a member of staff reported that a lump of concrete had come loose and fallen into the underground car park outside of the exclusion zone. Immediate visual inspections were undertaken and a decision to close the car park in the interests of public safety was taken on December 24th.

2.2     Following the continued severe weather over the Christmas and New Year period, further visual inspections on 4th January revealed damage to the stairwells within the Interchange. Taken alongside the prior fall of concrete and, reflecting on the priority of Health and Safety at Bradford Interchange, a precautionary decision to close the whole of the Interchange was made by senior officers, following an emergency meeting called on the evening of 4th January 2024 until such time as a decision can be taken to safely re-open all or part of the Interchange having taken appropriate professional advice.

2.3     These areas included the operational parts of the Bus Interchange which are the lower and upper concourse areas and associated retail areas, and the bus carriageways which run over the waffle slab and suspended concrete slab. The areas also include the basement area which includes the leisure unit and adjacent underground car park.

2.4     Rail access has been maintained throughout by means of the pre-existing access ramp that links the taxi rank to the station entrance. It is recognised that this is a sub-optimal access arrangement for rail passengers at present.

2.5     The Bus Station Interchange has remained closed since early January with comprehensive exclusion zones in place at deck level and within the basement areas. Access is only permitted following the mitigation requirements set out in a detailed Risk Assessment plan. 

Temporary Passenger Service Arrangements

2.6     The closure of Bradford Interchange bus station has created significant disruption and impact on businesses and residents, including those with disabilities and the visually impaired. We are seeking to address this as a matter of priority.

2.7     Since 4th January, a temporary passenger support programme has been in place and continually developed with the support of Bradford Council officers to minimise disruption for bus passengers. Teams have been deployed on-street to help implement an operational plan that saw all bus services diverted to stop locations within the city. Operators and drivers are being kept fully briefed and information is being provided at every stop location and all online information channels are being updated with passenger information. There is a rolling programme of new shelters in the city, which is now almost complete. The Combined Authority is currently working to install real time bus information screens in the Broadway Shopping Centre as soon as possible.

2.8     In May 2024, a bus stop rationalisation took place, linked to the TCF city centre cycling and walking scheme, in which some services were split to new stop locations to ease congestion at existing stops. This has had a positive impact and future options are being constantly reviewed.

2.9     Since the closure of the bus station, Jacobs Well car park has been used by bus operators as a layover area. This site will be required by Bradford Council by the end of 2024 as it is being developed. As a result of this, work is currently being undertaken to look at viable alternatives to Jacobs Well, should this provision be required beyond the end of 2024.

2.10   This work is focussing on a number of on and off-street options to provide the layover facility that is currently in operation at Jacobs Well. Key principles being adopted are around; land availability and ownership, operational efficiency/practicality, central location, ground conditions and passenger accessibility. Subject to alternative arrangements being a continued requirement into 2025, a period of decommissioning of Jacobs Well will need to be completed prior to this, which does limit the scope for complex solutions at this stage.

2.10   In terms of the currently vacant Interchange building, the Combined Authority have the responsibility to ensure that it is secured so that people cannot enter an unsafe environment. A full-time Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) has been allocated to cover the city centre on early and late shifts. This officer is being regularly supported by additional PCSOs as required. The outer city centre safer travel officer is also performing daily patrols on early and late shifts in the city with contact points on Well Street and The Broadway shopping centre arranged to offer extra re-assurance.

2.11    The plans put in place during this very challenging time have worked, though we are aware of the challenges passengers have, and continue to experience. The latest data shows that punctuality continues to show a slight improvement since the initial closure. Reliability shows a mixed picture compared to 2023 but with recent improvements. Since the closure of Bradford Interchange, patronage on central Bradford services has been performing less well than other services in West Yorkshire in a year-on-year comparison. This gap has worsened since last month. This will continue to be closely monitored.

Surveys of the Structure

2.12   Initial surveys were commissioned shortly after the Interchange was closed, which took until late February for analysis to be complete. The reports, which are included as an Appendix to this document, found that that drainage issues have resulted in widespread water leakage and corrosion to steelwork, but that work will be required to survey the entire structure and to address areas of defective concrete, drainage issues and significant water ingress. A summary of the findings is also set out at the end of this report.

2.13   Further, more extensive surveys have now been commissioned to determine the bus station's future. These have necessarily taken time to procure and to ensure that the specification meets key requirements. These include the critical need for the findings to be able to provide the appropriate level of detail to answer key questions around the structure’s future viability and ongoing works such that fully evidenced decisions can be made in terms of determining whether the bus interchange is safe for future operation.

2.14   Due to the size and complexity of the structure, as well as challenges in gaining access to the concrete slabs in some locations, these surveys will take some time to undertake, analyse and form a clear view of actions required to inform any future decisions relating to future bus use at the Interchange, as well as passenger access to the rail station. The process will continue, and Combined Authority officials have commissioned the work to deliver in stages that will inform the passenger improvement plans set out below.

2.15   In light of the timescales involved in gaining clarity around survey findings, the Interchange will remain shut until at least September so that the surveys can be completed, and a decision can be taken on next steps (either a permanent closure, partial reopening or full reopening). The options will be presented to the September meeting of the Combined Authority so that the region’s leaders can be kept up to date and take decisions based on a solid evidence base.

2.16   The closure of the facility has resulted in additional costs and loss of income to the Combined Authority. Close management of this is being undertaken to ensure any additional costs are proportionate and directly linked to ensuring passenger safety and effective operation of bus services within the city. Some costs are still being negotiated and finalised and at present the impact is estimated at an additional cost of £204k - £238k per month. These costs are made up of a combination of; lost income due to closure, savings on running costs and costs of ongoing operations to ensure that the building is properly secured. Additional one-off costs for surveys and potential business interruption costs are not included in these figures at this stage due to commercial confidentiality. 


3. Next Steps: Passenger Improvements – Bus and Rail

3.1     The combination of the age and condition of the bus station leads us to look closely at options for how Bradford is best served in the future, beyond the ultimate life of the asset. The Combined Authority recognise the need to continue to invest in Bradford Interchange while a long-term solution is found.

3.2     This investment sits alongside a wider vision for the future of bus, rail and mass transit for Bradford, including the Interchange site. Work on this is accelerating in partnership with the council and the Government.

3.3     Prior to the closure of the bus station, the Combined Authority had agreed a programme of works to support the improvement of the customer offer through the Transforming Cities Fund, setting aside a budget of £22 million.

3.4     Some key aspects of this work have progressed, including the demolition of the NCP car park, but other elements of the scheme that were directly linked to the Interchange structure (including repurposing the current taxi rank area, creation of an expanded plaza/pocket park, a new bus station canopy and refurbishing the interchange lower concourse) have been paused until the findings of the full structural survey are known, some of which are starting to emerge.

3.5     The rail station side of the Interchange remains operational, and the Combined Authority is committed to providing the best possible experience for rail passengers. Therefore, an enhancement scheme, based on elements of the Transforming Cities Fund project, is currently in final development that will:

  • revitalise access to the rail station via the front entrance to the Interchange, supported by a refurbished escalator and the reintroduction of lift facilities.
  • introduce new customer services and catering provisions on a resurfaced plaza area, where the current taxi rank is sited, including visitor and customer toilets, travel information/advice and refreshment facilities.
  • resurface the external ramp from the station to the plaza and redecorate the passenger environment throughout the facility.
  • review pedestrian facilities onward from the plaza into the core centre.

3.6     Initial indications from the current tranche of surveys are that this area will be safe to occupy; and the further survey work is prioritising the assessment of this area.

3.7     With these arrangements confirmed for rail passengers, WYCA and Council officers have reviewed a shortlist of locations to establish a bus facility for 2025 should the Interchange bus station not be available. Members will recognise that we face a challenging timescale to deliver a quality event bus offer for passengers. Discussions with land-owners and development of outline designs are now underway with a view to setting out deliverable options for members’ consideration alongside the future survey reports within the next two months, with advice on accelerated processes that will be required to enable delivery on time.

3.8     The outcome of the surveys will then inform long-term decisions on its future and what additional capital allocations will be required to secure a permanent high quality bus passenger facility in the city centre. Officers are currently reviewing the capital programme and will build into that process considerations of this requirement in Bradford.


Initial Surveys - Summary and Conclusion:

  • The car park structures was found to be in generally fair condition, with a combination of defects of varying severity.
  • Defects pertaining to quality of construction were apparent in a number of locations, with spalling due to insufficient provision of cover to steel reinforcement. The majority of these defects are minor and do not warrant repair.
  • There are two notable areas of defective concrete; one beneath the western concourse entrance, where falling concrete was recorded prior to the procurement of the inspection, and the other within the fire escape to the south-west fire escape, adjacent to the Santander building. Both these defects should be address in the near future.
  • The beams and columns of the car park were generally in good condition with some visible hairline cracks, that should be monitored as part of future inspections.
  • Construction joints throughout the slab were in generally good condition, with a small number of areas where voids were apparent, presenting the potential for passage of water.
  • Defects relating to the management of water through drainage and waterproofing to the slab, were prevalent throughout the structure.
  • Defects to drainage has resulted in widespread water leakage, and subsequent corrosion to ancillary steelwork (underslung drainage, ducting and the associated bracketry).
  • Efflorescence on the underside of the slab and on the beams were likely caused by water ingress through the slab, due to localised failure of waterproofing. It is noted that surfacing to the bus depot and associated waterproofing to the concrete slab, were in the process of being replaced at the time of inspection. Long term ingress of water to the reinforced concrete, particularly where de-icing salts are used around the interchange, increases the risk of corrosion to steel reinforcement and subsequent spalling.
  • Around openings in the concrete slab for the stairwells between the concourse level and car park, water leakage is apparent around the openings, indicating a lack of upstand and associated waterproofing to prevent it. Additionally, there are a number of areas of leakage to the concourse building that require further investigation and remediation.
  • Despite the prevalence of water leakage there is limited evidence of corrosion products to areas of reinforced concrete.”


Initial Surveys - Recommendations

The following recommendations are made to address defects observed during the inspection:

  • Remedial works to address defective concrete to the slab soffit, beneath the west concourse entrance and at the south-west stairwell opening.
  • Remedial works to address cracking to main beams, incorporating resin injection to minimise potential ingress of water.
  • Remedial works to address voids in construction joints, incorporating use of suitable repair material to minimise potential ingress of water.
  • Repairs to superstructure waterproofing, to minimise water ingress through the concrete slab.
  • Defective superstructure drainage should be replaced, including extensive pipework beneath the slab, with additional provision added to building columns.
  • Routine maintenance to clear superstructure drainage, including gullies around the interchange and pipework beneath the slab.
  • Provision of an upstand around stairwell openings to slab to prevent water ingress.
  • Routine maintenance to clear roof gutters and downpipes throughout concourse building.
  • Louvred openings to concrete slab should be replaced to minimise ingress of water.
  • Monitoring of minor defects as part of future inspections.


The following further recommendations are made to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current condition and inform the future management of the structure:

  • Completion of a condition survey to incorporate a suite of concrete testing, including carbonation, chloride and sulphate sampling, cement content and half-cell testing.
  • Investigation into areas adjacent to the south-west of the car park (Santander) to establish any structural interaction.
  • Consideration should be given to undertaking an assessment to establish the capacity of the structure, with a suitable allowance made to account for the current condition.
  • Completion of a safety inspection at an interval of approximate 6 months
  • Consideration should be given to exposing the structural elements of the floor construction to the concourse building, to facilitate further investigation.
  • Removal of cladding to building columns to facilitate further investigation. o Completion of a ground-level visual inspection annually and touching-distance (at height) visual inspection every four promote timely identification of defects.
  • Completion of an asbestos management plan to inform the identification of asbestos containing materials.”