A £1bn allocation could bring "much needed" improvements to transport links in North Wales and the North West.

Business and local authority leaders from North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester in the Growth Track 360 partnership say the funds will allow for "much-needed" upgrades.

The £1bn allocation from Network North for the electrification of the North Wales Coast Main Line Railway comes in response to the Union Connectivity Review (UCR) published last month.

The UCR was established to make recommendations on how to strengthen transport links between the nations of the United Kingdom. It was led by Lord Peter Hendy and reported in November 2021.

The report recommended improving “multi-modal” transport links between North Wales and the North West of England including:

  • Electrification of the North Wales Coast Main Line Railway
  • Improved rail connectivity with Crewe and Warrington to connect with HS2.
  • Increased capacity on the West Coast Main Line north of Crewe to enable better connectivity for North Wales and Chester with HS2 services going on to the North and Scotland at Warrington.

Rhyl Journal: Louise Gittins.Louise Gittins.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Growth Track 360 chair and leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, said: “There are positives for the GT360 geography in the government’s UCR response. It has confirmed the £1bn allocation for electrification of the North Wales Coast Main Line from the recently announced Network North Programme.

"The UCR also enabled development funding for business case work on the North Wales Coast Main Line Railway Capacity and Chester and Shotton Stations.

"The government response does not respond positively to all of the UCR’s recommendations to improve cross-border links between North Wales and the North West of England.

"There is no commitment to support the proposed non-rail “multi-modal” investments to improve connectivity along the A55 corridor.

"Growth Track 360 will work with partners to realise Lord Hendy’s recommendations that future capacity on the WCML is improved."

Councillor David Bithell, Growth Track 360 board member and deputy leader of Wrexham Council, said: “Growth Track 360 welcomes the focus of the UCR response on connectivity between Holyhead, Wrexham, Crewe and Warrington via Chester to bring parts of North Wales, including Wrexham, within an hour’s journey time of Manchester.

"The £1bn capital allocation for North Wales in Network North is the opportunity to deliver the much-needed upgrades to the North Wales Coast Main Line, Chester Station and the Wrexham to Liverpool (via Bidston) Line that will enable more frequent and faster-electrified services.

"This £1bn investment will enable the sustainable growth of business and tourism in North Wales. It is therefore critical that a political consensus of all parties is developed in support of the £1bn allocation in Network North for North Wales.”

Ashley Rogers, GT360 business representative and chief executive, North Wales Business Council, added: "The UCR funded early phase business case work for the North Wales Coast Main Line, Chester Station and Shotton Station. These studies have been completed and are now with the UK Department of Transport for decision.

"Growth Track 360 calls for the early implementation of the proposals in Network North and the Union Connectivity Review to improve the rail connectivity of North Wales with Crewe, Warrington and Manchester. This requires further funding for development work on the four key priorities of:

  • Improving capacity and Line speeds on the North Wales Coast Main Line
  • Modernising Chester Station and expanding its capacity for through services to and from North Wales
  • Resolving congestion at the Padeswood Cement works and improving capacity and line speeds on the Borderlands Line (Wrexham to Liverpool via Bidston)
  • Electrifying the North Wales lines from Holyhead to Crewe and Warrington via Chester.

"These investment priorities form the North Wales and Mersey Dee input to the Network North Programme. Their delivery is urgent to transform regional economic performance and decarbonise transport.”