Cash call to link north Wales and Cheshire with HS2 trains

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Media captionA look at the rail lines which could benefit from linking with HS2

A campaign has been launched to secure £1bn of rail improvements for north Wales and Cheshire to help link the region with the planned HS2 line.

The investment would create 70,000 new jobs over 20 years, an alliance of business, political and public sector leaders said.

They are calling for the line from Crewe to north Wales to be electrified.

The campaign - called Growth Track 360 - is backed by the region's eight councils and business groups.

It said the investment would help "unlock the region's full economic potential", ensuring it becomes an integral part of the Northern Powerhouse, which aims to attract investment into northern cities and towns.

It is calling for:

  • The electrification of the line from Crewe to north Wales so the region can be linked to HS2, and fast London trains can continue to Bangor and Holyhead
  • The frequency of trains to be doubled from the north Wales coast to Manchester through Chester
  • New, modern, better-equipped trains for new services between Liverpool and Liverpool Airport to north Wales
  • Doubling the amount of journeys between Wrexham and Liverpool
  • Improving stations and the creation of a smart ticketing system to make journey planning cheaper and easier

The campaign - driven by the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force (NW&MD) - will now lobby senior rail industry figures and present the case for better rail infrastructure to senior government figures in London and Cardiff.

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Media captionConwy council leader Councillor Dilwyn Roberts said: "We have made a good enough case to justify the investment"

Councillor Derek Butler, chairman of the Mersey Dee Alliance and cabinet member for economic development at Flintshire council, said it was "vital" for the region to attract inward investment.

"We have economic and business assets of national and international significance but cannot make the most of these without a rail system which meets our needs for the future," he added.

Ashley Rogers, chairman of the North Wales Business Council, said every community in the region would benefit "massively".

"We cannot afford for this part of the UK to become a Cinderella region, left behind in the race for investment and in the government's ambitions for a Northern Powerhouse," he said.

'Connecting people'

Colin Brew, chief executive of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: "Additional capacity and faster journey times on our rail network will reduce road congestion and massively improve commuter, tourist and freight movements across the region."

The Welsh Government's economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates, added: "Connecting people to jobs and businesses to growth opportunities is a must if the economy of north Wales is to continue to grow and reach its undoubted potential."

The £55.7bn HS2 project aims to create a new high-speed line to link London to Birmingham by 2026, with routes to Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

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