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Funding urged for Network Rail’s congested Wrexham to Bidston line

24 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Picture by Network Rail

Business and local authority leaders from north Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester are urging UK Government Ministers to adopt the proposals of Network Rail to resolve congestion on the Wrexham to Bidston, Borderlands Line.

The Office for Road and Rail (ORR) designated the Wrexham to Bidston Line congested infrastructure in August 2022 because it could not accommodate the proposal for two passenger trains per hour from Transport for Wales and hourly freight services to serve the Heidelberg Cement Works at Padeswood.

The ORR designation triggers a statutory process where Network Rail reviews the causes of congestion and makes recommendations to resolve them.

Proposals

Network Rail’s “Capacity Enhancement Plan” published in the summer of 2023. proposes: –

  • Improving access to the Heidelberg Cement Padeswood Works Sidings so that longer trains can enter the works without splitting and shunting the load, which blocks the line for passenger services for 40 minutes, preventing implementation of the proposed half hourly passenger services.
  • Improving signalling, line speeds and safety at level crossings.

Growth Track 360 Chair and Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Councillor Louise Gittins, said: “The Borderlands Line has fantastic potential by linking the cities of Wrexham in north Wales and Liverpool in England.

“Recent business case studies based on developing direct services between Wrexham and Liverpool City Centres show a strongly positive return.”

Improved interchange

“An improved interchange with the North Wales Coast Main Line at Shotton would also enable residents from Chester and the North Wales Coast to use the line to access Liverpool, Birkenhead, Wrexham and Deeside employment zones.

“The allocation of £1bn capital for North Wales in the Network North Programme is an opportunity to invest in the transformation of the Borderlands Line from a neglected backwater line into a high value railway supporting connectivity and growth.

“A £35m investment to upgrade the Padeswood sidings will start the improvement journey. (North Wales Transport Commission cost estimate).”

Growth Track 360 Board Member and Deputy Leader of Wrexham Council, Councillor David Bithell, said: “Transport for Wales has introduced 45-minute services on the Borderlands Line. They are addressing reliability issues with their rolling stock. Discussions have commenced with Merseyrail to reach an agreement for battery/electric trains on the Borderlands Line to access Liverpool Central in the future.

“Heidelberg Cement are seeking more freight paths to take cement lorries off the roads and to transfer them to rail.

“Local partners can see the long-term potential of the line. GT360 urges the UK Government to join them and seize the moment by deploying funds from the Network North programme to increase capacity on the line.”

Job opportunities

Ashley Rogers, GT360 Business Representative, Chief Executive, North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council, said: “Fixing the causes of congested infrastructure on this line will be good for our businesses and our communities. It will open up job opportunities for workers and better access for residents to key centres from Wrexham through to Deeside Industrial Park and onwards to Liverpool.

These improvements will also help to drive modal shift from road to public transport in North East Wales to reduce carbon emissions. The lines’ development will increase usage and interchange with the North Wales Coast Main Line, enhancing the business case for electrification.

It’s very clear the investment for Borderlands will deliver positive economic, social and environmental returns. Network North funding now offers the opportunity to deliver one of the best rail investments in the UK.”


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Catherine
Catherine
29 days ago

Yeah…of course, its to help the passengers. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, as if they had grown a sense of civic duty overnight, Network Rail, who run “a public sector company that operates as a regulated monopoly” (networkrail.co.uk) decided to help those people in Wrecsam who want to be able to get to one of the greatest places on Earth to get absolutely ratted (I’m in, even though I am teetotal) easier. What heroes! Liverpool should get together and give the owners of Network Rail a big wet kiss on the bottom out of sheer gratitude, I cannot… Read more »

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
29 days ago
Reply to  Catherine

Yes indeed. So big profitable cement company wants more siding space. Er, is that not the sort of thing that would be called Investment on their Balance Sheet. So why is the public purse supposed to cough up the cash? Oh sorry, they need the cash for Directors Bonuses and dividends. (I have had some difficulty finding the Comapny’s accounts since the UK opertion appears to be buried in the German holding company accounts. Needless to say it was not possible to find out how much directors took in bonuses although a dividend was paid apparently.)

Another Richard
Another Richard
28 days ago

[Not for publication] Could something be done to make Nation.Cymru more reader-friendly? The grey font is very faint indeed on my laptop, and against the buff background I can read it only with difficulty. I can switch to “reader view” but then only the main text of an article is visible, and not the comments. I am not visually impaired and those who are must find it a real struggle. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who’d welcome greater legibility.

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