Growth Track 360 welcomes UK Government's response to parliamentary committee's recommendations

6 October 2021

Growth Track 360 welcomes UK Government’s response to parliamentary committee’s recommendations for upgrading, managing and financing railway infrastructure in Wales and enhancing connectivity with England

Business and local authority leaders from North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester in the Growth Track 360 partnership have welcomed today’s response from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) to recommendations from the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee into ‘Railway Infrastructure in Wales’ published in July.

Growth Track 360 was one of seventeen organisations and individuals who submitted written evidence to the Committee’s inquiry.  Its 19 recommendations included six of particular benefit to North Wales and the Mersey-Dee cross-border region.

The DfT has responded positively to the Committee’s key recommendation that:
•    The UK Government should establish by this autumn a Wales Rail Board with the Welsh Government, train operators, Network Rail and Transport for Wales to develop a shared vision and project pipeline for rail in Wales.

In its response published today, the DfT “recognises the potential benefits identified by the Committee of a dedicated forum to develop a shared vision and a prioritised set of proposals for rail infrastructure improvement and investment to deliver improvements for passengers in Wales and propose to establish a senior-level Board with this remit.  The Board will comprise director-level representation from Welsh Government, DfT, TfW, Network Rail, and other train operators serving passengers in Wales.  Terms of Reference are under discussion with a view to holding an initial meeting of this Board at the earliest opportunity in the current calendar year.”

Growth Track 360 Chair and Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Councillor Louise Gittins, said: “The all-party House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee took on board Growth Track 360’s well-developed proposals for maximising the economic potential of the integrated economy embracing North Wales and the Mersey Dee region through investment in cross-border rail connectivity.  We said that the Committee’s interesting idea for bringing the governments of the UK and Wales and rail institutions together in a Wales Rail Board could help to align planning and investment decisions and we welcome the UK Government’s positive response.  This new body must be a powerhouse of action fuelled by serious investment of money rather than another debating chamber.  To that end, regional economic development bodies such as Growth Track 360 should have seats at the table so that we can drive the agenda.”

Growth Track 360 Vice Chair and Leader of Flintshire Council, Councillor Ian Roberts, said: “We welcome the positive statements in the DfT’s response to the Committee’s recommendations on decarbonisation of the railway network in our cross-border region and, in particular, their work with Transport for Wales, Network Rail and other stakeholders to deliver by February 2022 a report on reduced journey times and higher speeds on the North Wales Main Line – one of Growth Track 360’s top three investment priorities.  Growth Track 360 will continue to make the case for full electrification of this route as well as transformation of the Wrexham-Liverpool service and modernisation of our key interchange station at Chester.  We also welcome the positive statements from the DfT on initiatives to protect our regional railway infrastructure from the impact of climate change.”

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