Business leaders hail news of North Wales Main Line electrification
Business leaders have hailed the news that the North Wales Main Line is to be electrified as a “once-in-a-generation boost” for the region.
Speaking at the Tory conference on Wednesday (October 4), the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak announced plans to scrap the northern leg of HS2 and instead divert £36bn of rail infrastructure investment to “the north”.
One of these alternative projects listed in the Prime Ministers’ speech included the electrification of the North Wales Main Line, which is believed to cost in the region of £1bn.
The North Wales Business Council have welcomed the news saying the electrified line will help provide faster, cleaner and more frequent train services.
Clare Budden, Chair of the North Wales Business Council, said: “The axing of the HS2 leg to Manchester is not good news for such a pivotal piece of UK transport investment.
“However we have been calling for many years for the full electrification of the North Wales Main Line and to finally have commitment for this is a real positive and making the best out of a bad situation.
“This is a much-needed, once-in-a-generation investment in our railway infrastructure, supporting Net Zero and hopefully improved services for businesses, residents and visitors alike. This is a big deal but we need certainty it will be delivered in full and by when.”
Ashley Rogers, CEO of the Business Council said: “We welcome the news of this investment as an existing major ask for our region. With the exception of funding for the Wrexham to Bidston line, we presume that a lot of the already identified investment priorities in rail we have been campaigning for like improving line speeds and improving Chester station, would happen as part of this full electrification project.”
“We do have to be cautious however, as the devil is in the detail. It would be good to have confirmation of when funding will start to flow and in which years will we see spades in the ground.
“Essential development funding for example is needed immediately to move the project forward. Our connectivity into Manchester and Liverpool is also vital, so those areas also need support for funding for Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
The news was also welcomed by Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism.
He said: “Transport connectivity is incredibly important in terms of tourism and the flow of visitors in and out of north Wales, especially this link between London and Holyhead.
“News about electrification of the north Wales line is long overdue because this is a vitally important strategic route and tourism is central to the economic recovery here in north Wales.
“Let’s not lose the focus on today though. In recent years, there has been a serious decline in the quality of the train service linking north Wales and London and at one point the number of direct trains was slashed to just three a day.
“While things have improved, it’s still a poor imitation of the service we had before the pandemic.”
Opposition politicians have argued that the decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2 has effectively robbed Wales of up to £5bn in rail infrastructure investment that it would have received if the project had been designated as a project only affecting England.
Under the devolution settlement, both Scotland and Northern Ireland are entitled to a proportion of rail infrastructure funding in England, but that does not apply to Wales.
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