Posted: Fri 23rd Feb 2024

North Wales rail upgrades worth £1bn to deliver ‘faster, more reliable services’

North Wales news and information

UK Government Transport Secretary Mark Harper is holding talks today on plans for upgrading the rail network in North Wales.

The roundtable event is taking place in Llandudno with local MPs, councillors and business leaders invited to discuss the future of the North Wales Main Line.

The focus of the discussion is on the Westminster government’s plan to invest £1 billion in upgrading and electrifying the crucial rail link to enhance connectivity and encourage economic growth.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the termination of the remaining phases of the HS2 programme, stopping the link between Birmingham and Manchester, during a keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference last October.

Despite HS2 not touching Welsh soil, it has been argued that improvements in the north-west of England would benefit travellers and commuters in North Wales.

Mr Sunak announced that funding for the second leg of HS2 would instead be diverted into hundreds of other projects.

They include a potential £1 billion investment in the electrification of the North Wales Main Line between Chester and Holyhead.

The route covers a 126-mile stretch of railway connecting Crewe, Warrington, Wrexham, and Holyhead, with the latter serving as a key ferry point to Dublin.

Mr Harper has highlighted the vital role of the North Wales Main Line in the UK’s transport network.

He said: “The North Wales Main Line is a vital transport link, and our billion-pound plan will deliver faster and more reliable rail services for passengers in North Wales and the North West of England.

“Our plan is made possible by our decision to reallocate every penny of the £36bn saved from HS2 into hundreds of transport projects across the UK.

“This major upgrade will improve rail journeys, improve connections to jobs and help grow the economy.

“I look forward to meeting local leaders and businesses today to discuss the benefits this project will bring.”

However, the potential £1 billion upgrade has been met with scepticism in some quarters.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said there had been a lack of detailed planning and questioned whether the £1 billion sum would be sufficient to deliver the scheme.

Prof Stewart Cole, from the University of South Wales and a Welsh Government adviser on transport, echoed his sentiments.

He pointed out that the £1bn figure might be outdated, suggesting that with construction costs increasing annually, the real cost might be closer to £1.5 billion or more.

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