Grayling hints at north Wales con­nec­tiv­ity boost

Rail (UK) - - Network News - The prospec­tus can be ac­cessed on­line at: http://www. growth­track360.com/wp-con­tent/ up­loads/2018/02/WEST-WALESRAIL-PROSPEC­TUS-FI­NAL.pdf Grayling: “It’s of para­mount im­por­tance that the con­nec­tiv­ity is there, and that north Wales in par­tic­u­lar can link ea

SEC­RE­TARY of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling has made a per­sonal pledge to im­prove cross-bor­der con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween north Wales and north­west Eng­land.

Speak­ing at the launch of the West and Wales Strate­gic Rail Prospec­tus in West­min­ster on Fe­bru­ary 26, he told lo­cal busi­ness and pub­lic lead­ers they had “friends at the De­part­ment [for Trans­port]”, and that he would “not al­low north Wales to be left be­hind” in their bid for rail in­vest­ment.

As a for­mer res­i­dent and one­time par­lia­men­tary can­di­date in Cheshire, Grayling added that he was acutely aware of the in­ter­re­gional trans­port needs set out in the re­port, while prais­ing it as a “timely re­minder” of its eco­nomic po­ten­tial.

His re­sponse will serve as en­cour­age­ment to the authors of the prospec­tus, who com­prise pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor lead­ers from Cheshire West and Chester, north Wales, War­ring­ton and Cheshire East. There is also back­ing from Trans­port for the North, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, Liver­pool City Re­gion and Greater Manch­ester.

Build­ing on the work done to date by the Growth Track 360 cam­paign, which fo­cused pri­mar­ily on north Wales and the Mersey Dee ar­eas, the prospec­tus sets out how a pack­age of im­prove­ments at the strate­gic rail hubs of Crewe, War­ring­ton, Manch­ester Air­port and Chester could de­liver 300,000 new jobs, boost pro­duc­tiv­ity and stim­u­late house build­ing, by en­abling faster jour­ney times and more fre­quent ser­vices.

In par­tic­u­lar, it calls for a new rail hub at Crewe, which will be­come a key in­ter­change in 2027 be­tween the HS2 net­work and the sur­round­ing ‘con­ven­tional’ net­work. Five to seven high-speed ser­vices should call there each hour.

The prospec­tus adds that clas­sic ser­vices on re­gional lines and on the West Coast Main Line must also be en­hanced, in or­der to bring up to 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple more than an hour closer to Lon­don, and to in­crease cross-bor­der com­mut­ing by rail (which cur­rently stands at just 1% of all jour­neys for work).

Grayling could not be drawn on the as-yet un­pub­lished find­ings of the Gov­ern­ment’s Crewe Hub con­sul­ta­tion than ran from July 17-Oc­to­ber 12, but ap­peared to en­dorse the as­pi­ra­tions set out in the prospec­tus.

He said: “We have to make sure HS2 in­ter­acts with sur­round­ing lines, and it’s of para­mount im­por­tance that the con­nec­tiv­ity is there, and that north Wales in par­tic­u­lar can link eas­ily to the HS2 net­work.

“We have not yet pub­lished a for­mal re­sponse on the Crewe Hub, but I can look around the room to­day and give a gen­tle smile.”

Saman­tha Dixon, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Coun­cil and chair­man of Growth Track 360, added: “Many peo­ple and busi­nesses in our com­mu­ni­ties cur­rently have to put up with long jour­neys and in­fre­quent ser­vices, forc­ing many com­muters onto con­gested roads and lim­it­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for eco­nomic growth.

“Tar­geted in­vest­ment in the area’s four key rail hubs and across the rail net­work can de­liver a step change in con­nec­tiv­ity and growth across the re­gion. We are ask­ing Gov­ern­ment and the wider rail in­dus­try to recog­nise the po­ten­tial that this in­vest­ment can bring, and to work along­side us to make it a re­al­ity.”

GROWTH TRACK 360.

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