One of Welsh Labour’s main plays for the North Wales vote in the Welsh Assembly elections was launched in Wrexham today with queries over why some of North Wales was left off.
The plans for the North Wales Metro were unveiled by Welsh Labour Leader Carwyn Jones and Wrexham’s Welsh Labour candidate, Lesley Griffiths at the Wrexham Bus Station early this morning.
Regarding the plans, Welsh Labour say: “The North Wales Metro will create a new integrated transport network across North Wales connecting people, communities and businesses to jobs, facilities and services.
“The First Minister has previously outlined the need for a reliable, efficient and quality integrated transport network across the region. The publication of the indicative map takes thing on, and will form the basis for planning in the next Assembly – should Welsh Labour win.”
“The metro project will be a significant boost for the North Wales economy and Jobs – encourage investment and employment growth through high quality, reliable and attractive transport network with better passenger and business services.”
The stated aim of the ‘Metro’ is to have:
- A modernised rail network with faster, more frequent services and direct access to key centres and employment sites and to airports
- Modern trains, with high quality facilities and enough space to sit down
- New and improved rail stations
- High quality, frequent, reliable bus network
- Integrated transport hubs enabling interchange between transport modes
- Park and Ride and Park and Share facilities
It is always nice to see Wrexham as a main element of any plan, however we asked Mr Jones about the criticism that was voiced shortly after the map was made public due to it appearing to focus on North East Wales with not much west of Rhyl and a lack of detail.
Mr Jones confirmed the initial focus was towards linking North East Wales and North West England, saying it was a Phase 1.
“It is designed to link up the North East Powerhouse with the North West England Powerhouse to make it easier for investors to come in and also for people to travel,” said Mr Jones.
“We will be looking at taking it further west. We know there are opportunities ultimately with the Conwy Valley, with the line obviously beyond Rhyl, and important services like the T3 Ruabon to Barmouth bus service.
“It is the same with the Cardiff Metro, we looked at what already exists but will look then to expand over the years”
Describing the above map as a ‘starting point’ for the first phase, he went on describe his vision: “It is about improving the existing bus routes and railway lines, better facilities, more frequent trains, an integrated system so buses and trains connect with each other, including cycling and walking.”
Querying the lack of detail on the Harry Beck style map, Mr Jones told us was ‘not designed to be the whole extent of the metro’.
Explaining the execution of the plan if returned in the election, “In the first 100 days after the election there will be the summit where we will take it forward and also to look at potential expansion as well further on down the line.
“There us no limit to the extent of the Metro, it can grow organically over time anyway.”
Further details, firm costings and funding will likely emerge in the run up to the elections.