An ambitious vision for a new North East Wales Metro transport system which would provide integrated transport links across the region, has been revealed.
Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates yesterday set out his vision for transport improvements in North Wales which Welsh Government say will provide ‘sustainable, reliable, efficient and quality integrated transport links for the region’ via this PDF presentation document.
In the document Mr Skates states that he has committed an ‘additional £50 million to move forward the plans for the North East Wales Metro’.
Plans for a ‘North Wales Metro’ were unveiled by First Minister Carwyn Jones and Wrexham’s Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths at the Wrexham Bus Station in April 2016 and was a key pledge in Welsh Labour’s 2016 manifesto.
Wrexham is mentioned several times in the document, with particular reference made to improvements on Junctions 4 and 5 of the A483 – which will allow for the ‘development of options to improve capacity at key junctions with the A483 trunk road to west of Wrexham to facilitate potential employment and housing development’ – something Wrexham Council was in favour of, if more than ‘crumbs’ in funding was allocated.
Another scheme ‘currently being developed’ includes a ‘Route Study’ of existing and projected traffic issues between A483 Gledrid Roundabout, Chirk and Rossett Interchange, that “takes account of key strategic economic growth and development opportunities and identification of options to accommodate increased traffic where appropriate.”
There is also note of “A483/A5 Halton Junction improvement, development of a scheme to improve capacity and reduce queuing”.
Rail will also see improvements, with “Rail Capacity Improvements between Wrexham and Chester” detailed as ‘development of options for further capacity improvements to facilitate additional rail services’, ‘development of options to improve rail / bus / active travel interchange at Wrexham General Station and other key locations within the Wrexham catchment area’.
There are several other plans, including making the case to UK Government to help fund electrification of the North Wales Coast Main Line, plus development of services between North Wales and Liverpool via Liverpool Airport using a re-opened Halton Curve.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: “Modernising the transport network across North Wales and delivery of an integrated North East Wales Metro are key priorities for the Welsh Government. They will provide a fantastic platform to deliver sustainable economic development, connecting people, communities and business to employment, services, facilities and markets through reliable, resilient infrastructure.
“Brexit will mean it is more important than ever to have good connections to markets across the Wales – England border, which already sees around one million journeys per month. Direct links to and from key centres in the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands and to London and direct public transport services to airports and key rail hubs will all help to drive economic growth.
“I have already committed to projects of nearly £600 million for transport infrastructure improvements across the region whilst working hard to secure an additional £41 million of EU funding for transport schemes in the region. But it’s crucial that our investment and ambition does not stop there.
Mr Skates added, “I am proud to launch our vision for a fully integrated North East Wales Metro system which will transform transport links in North East Wales. This will be supported by our ongoing work on the future of local bus services, and by the new Wales and borders rail franchise which will be in place from 2018.
“I am also pleased to announce plans for a designated team to work in collaboration with other public sector organisations, operators, business, the third sector and communities on both sides of the border to develop the vision and improve transport integration across all modes. This will help inform and deliver a transport system that meets the needs of North Wales, ensuring our vision for a connected North East Wales becomes a reality.
“There is huge potential to deliver increased economic growth in North Wales. A modern, high quality integrated transport system is fundamental to achieving that potential and I am committed to working to make that a reality.”
Pictures – Welsh Government