Wharfedale line
Milnerwood Junction.jpg
Class 333 at Milnerwood Junction in 2009
OwnerNetwork Rail
LocaleWest Yorkshire
Yorkshire and the Humber
Operator(s)Northern Trains
Depot(s)Neville Hill (On the Leeds to Selby Line
Rolling stockBritish Rail Class 333
British Rail Class 331
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Route map
Airedale & Wharfedale lines.png

(Click to expand)

The Wharfedale line is one of the rail services in the West Yorkshire Metro area of northern England. The service connects Ilkley with Leeds and Bradford, and is operated by Northern Trains.[1] West Yorkshire Metrocards are available for use on the line, covering Zones 3–5.[2] The line is served predominantly by four-coach Class 333 electric multiple units.[3]

The route

The line was originally owned by the Midland Railway from Leeds to Burley-in-Wharfedale. At this point the line became joint property, with the North Eastern Railway, and was known as the Otley & Ilkley Joint Railway (O&IJt).[4] The two lines from Leeds and Bradford come together at Esholt Junction[5] – the location of an 1892 crash[6] – south of Guiseley.

The route from Leeds leaves the main line near Calverley and continues along the Aire valley until climbing a hill to:

A new station, Kirkstall Forge, opened in 2016 on the Aire Valley section of the route between Leeds and Guiseley.[7][8] The station at Kirkstall Forge provides a service on the Wharfedale line outside of peak hours only.[9] Plans also exist to reinstate the O&IJt branch line to Otley from Milner Wood Junction, between Menston and Burley.[10]

The first section of the route from Bradford Forster Square is also used by the Airedale and Leeds–Bradford lines. The service to Ilkley branches north of Shipley railway station to:

The line was electrified throughout using 25 kV AC Overhead[5] between 1994 and 1995 by British Rail.[11] The now-closed and lifted Skipton-Ilkley line continued west of Ilkley via Addingham, Bolton Abbey and Embsay to Skipton. The section from Embsay to Bolton Abbey has been reopened by enthusiasts who operate steam locomotives as the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway.[12]


  1. ^ "Train routes: Wharfedale Line". www.wymetro.com. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ "MetroCard – bus travel with rail zones 2-5". www.wymetro.com. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  3. ^ "£12m investment in new train carriages". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. 21 March 2002. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  4. ^ Cobb, M H (2003). The Railways of Great Britain a Historical Atlas. pp. 395–396. ISBN 0711030030. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b Jacobs, Gerald (2006). Quail Track Diagrams by TRACKmaps – Railway Track Book 2 Eastern. Bradford-On-Avon: Trackmaps. p. 43. ISBN 0-9549866-2-8. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Esholt train crash in 1892 leads to tragic loss of five lives". Wharfedale Observer. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge rail stations get go-ahead". BBC News. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Kirkstall Forge Rail Station Metro". www.wymetro.com. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  9. ^ "RESPONSE TO GENERATION 2 NORTHERN ROUTE UTILISATION STRATEGY (RUS)" (PDF). Network Rail. NR. December 2008. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Re-opening rail lines". Campaign For Better Transport. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  11. ^ Kilner, Will (22 October 2008). "Are they on the right lines for travel?". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway". embsayboltonabbeyrailway.org.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2016.