A Merseyrail electric train.
stage in multi-million cross border rail link
10 April 2008
Merseytravel is continuing to drive forward plans for the multi-million
electrification of a key cross border rail line into North Wales.
The Borderlands scheme, valued at more than £60million, involves
the electrification of some or all of the rail route between Wrexham to
Bidston. A key "GRIP 3" (Guide to Rail Investment Projects) study,
jointly by Merseytravel and the Welsh Assembly, is looking into the project
and will be completed within weeks. All aspects of the project, including
costs, benefits and funding, will be scrutinised in more detail.
A further study looking into the design of the scheme will follow later
this year. The project, a key part of Merseytravel`s ambitious rail
improvement programme, would mean hundreds of thousands more passenger
journeys on the cross-border rail line every year, greatly improved connections
between Wrexham and Liverpool City Centre and access to the 8,000 plus
at Deeside Industrial Park. It could also serve the areas of high
unemployment, including Beechwood, Woodchurch and inner Birkenhead.
The move is currently being scrutinised in conjunction with the TAITH consortium
(a joint board of the six local authorities in North Wales), The Welsh
Assembly and the Mersey Dee Alliance. Neil Scales, Chief Executive
and Director General of Merseytravel, said: "This is a key route, which
has fantastic potential. Our plans mean we could see new stations at Deeside
and Woodchurch. "The Borderlands scheme would open up direct commuter
links between Liverpool and areas of North Wales including Wrexham, Deeside
and Flintshire, providing a huge boost to the regional economy."
The line currently suffers from a number of problems, including under investment,
track speed restrictions, extremely tight turnaround times and a need to
change at Bidston for cross border journeys. Members of Merseytravel`s
Passenger Transport Authority and Executive recently met Welsh Assembly
Transport and Environment Ministers to discuss the plans and to garner
more support for the scheme.
Cash pledge on Wrexham to Bidston line
Mar 6 2008 by Tom Bodden, Daily Post
TRAVEL bosses have pledged to fully fund a further £600,000 investigation into the electrification of the Wrexham to Bidston rail line, an AM revealed yesterday.
second stage study would consider the infrastructure needed to upgrade
the route to a fast borderlands rail link halving journey times between
the North Wales town, Wirral and Liverpool. An initial feasibility
study by Network Rail, which was jointly funded with the Welsh Assembly
Government, is expected to report in the next few days. Yesterday
Merseytravel chief executive Neil Scales met Welsh Assembly transport minister
Ieuan Wyn Jones for talks over the progress on the project. Wrexham
AM Lesley Griffiths, who was at the meeting, said it was the first opportunity
for the minister to meet Mr Scales and hear directly how committed Merseytravel
are to this scheme going ahead. She said last night: “Merseytravel
chief executive Neil Scales is a key partner in this scheme and I was anxious
that he and the minister had the opportunity to discuss ways of ensuring
that the electrification of the line takes place as soon as possible.
“Mr Scales assured the minister that Merseytravel are 100% committed to
this project and that the business case for the scheme is viable and worthy
of Welsh Assembly Government support. “Indeed, Merseytravel committed
themselves to fund the next-stage report into the infrastructure requirements
for the line. “The much anticipated feasibility study by Network
Rail is due to be handed over to the Welsh Assembly Government and Merseytravel
in the next few days - and I along with everyone interested in this scheme
looks forward to its publication. “This line has great potential
for the region as a whole. It has the total support of AMs in North East
Wales and also MPs from both sides of the border. “I believe the
case for the electrification of the Borderlands line going ahead is overwhelming.
That’s why I am determined to do all I can to make sure it becomes a reality.
“The benefits would aid economic development and could provide a rail link
from North East Wales to Liverpool John Lennon Airport.” If the project
goes ahead, it would be funded jointly by the Welsh Assembly Government,
the Department for Transport and Regional and Local Transport Authorities,
Anger at backtrack over Wrexham rail line boost
(Oct 11 2007 by Tom Bodden, Daily Post)
Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) chiefs were under fire yesterday after plans to boost a border rail service were shelved. Electrification of the Bidston to Wrexham rail link was put on the back-burner by Welsh Labour as a concession to their coalition colleagues, Plaid Cymru, it was suggested yesterday. Tory MP David Jones told Parliament the WAG was committed to the proposal before the last election but now 'appeared to have shelved it for up to 12 years.'
During Welsh Questions he quizzed Wales Office minister Huw Irranca-Davies over the apparent change of policy. Clwyd West MP Mr Jones said: “Does the minister know the reason for this change of plan? 'Was it perhaps a concession extracted from the First Minister by his Plaid Cymru coalition partners to enable them to pursue policies that are likely to find more favour in the areas where those are strongest?'
Electrifying the line would provide a faster and more efficient service between Wrexham and Liverpool. Passenger transport authority Merseytravel has carried out a feasibility study with the WAG.But the plans have now dropped down the Assembly’s list of priorities. Mr Irranca-Davies told MPs: “Ultimately the decision will be a decision for the Welsh Assembly government. However, I do hear what he is saying and I’m keen as well to see this happen but it is worth remembering of course that whilst he challenges currently on our plans for the rail network, in the last 10 years we have had to deal with the botched failures of a Tory administration on rail privatisation.'
MP Ian Lucas, who raised the issue yesterday, called on Mr Irranca-Davies
to meet First Minister Rhodri Morgan to make sure the link was electrified.
He added: “In Wrexham we are celebrating the introduction of the first
direct rail services to London since 1957 but we are ever ambitious and
we now want the electrification of the Wrexham to Liverpool line. There’s
been concern that the rail assessment plan issued over the summer somehow
made the mistake, I’m sure it was a mistake, of backdating the work on
this to 2014.”
A major boost to the campaign
to electrify the Wrexham-Liverpool rail service has been announced.
Following a meeting between Wrexham MP Ian Lucas and Welsh Assembly Government Transport Minister Andrew Davies, Network Rail will prepare a feasibility study on the cost of the project. It will be funded jointly by the Welsh Assembly Government and Merseytravel and be a detaied examination into the costs of carrying out the electrification. Mr Lucas said: "This is absolutely great news. It means a detailed, costed assessment of the work needed to upgrade the line will now be carried out by the government and the company hoping to take the project forward, and is another positive step in the campaign for a direct service from Wrexham to Liverpool operating every half-hour. I am very pleased at the commitment to the scheme shown by both the Welsh Assembly Government and Merseytravel and plan to maximise local pressure to make sure the project happens".
Train services between North Wales and Merseyside should
be doubled and the line electrified.
(From the "Daily Post" 14th of March 2006)
The Borderlines Rail Study urged the Welsh Assembly and Department of Transport to radically upgrade the Wrexham to Bidston route, including its extension to Liverpool. The report claimed such a move would persuade up to 800,000 commuters to leave their cars at home and boost the economies of Wrexham, Deeside and Flintshire.
study, carried out by Faber Maunsell and Elan Public Transport Consultants,
concluded a £59m scheme to electrify the entire route, and increase
the number of trains to two an hour, would be "economically viable".
It would result in the number of journeys on the line jumping from 200,000 a year to more than a million by 2020.
Cash raised would increase from £420,000 a year to £2.2m. The findings were welcomed by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas. He said: "This is a hugely important report for both Wrexham and North East Wales. There need to be better commuter links to the north of Wrexham and this can be supplied by a half-hourly service."
study was carried out on behalf of local authorities in North Wales, Merseytravel,
the Welsh Development Agency and Cheshire County Council. It examined
five options for electrifying different sections of track between Wrexham,
Shotton, Deeside, Woodchurch and Liverpool. It concluded that the
"best value for money" option was to electrify the route between Liverpool,
which is currently part of the Merseytravel network, and Woodchurch but
keep a slower diesel service between Woodchurch and Wrexham. Two
new stations at Woodchurch and Deeside would be built. But the report
said electrifying the entire line was still viable and would boost the
economy of North East Wales. It concluded: "Any enhancement of the
Borderlines Line must consider the doubling of the current hourly service
frequency as a minimum requirement. Given this requirement, electrification
of all, or part, of the route produces an economically viable scheme.
In purely transport terms the strongest case is for electrification to
Woodchurch, although the wider economic and development benefits would
be greater if electrification extended into Wales." It is estimated
by 2020 there will be 35,000 new jobs and 2,800 new homes in the area served
by the Wrexham to Bidston railway.
Merseyrail electric service at Bidston
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