North Wales metro 'will deliver' says transport secretary
Plans for a north Wales metro system will live up to people's expectations, the economy and transport secretary has said.
The Welsh Government's proposed public transport scheme would include a mixture of trams, upgraded railway stations and better bus services.
Ken Skates said cross border links were more important than ever in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
But Conservatives in north Wales say it is a missed opportunity.
The 'metro map' has also come under fire for excluding Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy.
It was a major promise in Welsh Labour's 2016 manifesto ahead of the Assembly election.
Mr Skates defended the transport scheme during a launch of 'Moving North Wales Forward' plan at the new bus interchange in Rhyl.
The Clwyd South AM insisted the system was a metro and would receive a "considerable amount of investment" from the Welsh Government.
About £50m has been announced for the first phase of development of the scheme.
"It is a major long term scheme which will unlock the potential of the economy and meet the expectations of people who wish to use public transport, but at the moment find there are too many barrier to doing so." he said.
He added: "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."
According to Welsh Government stats about 20,000 workers cross the border from England into Wales each day.
Mr Skates said leaving the European Union would mean it was more important than ever for good cross-border links to drive economic growth.
Mr Skates said the Welsh Government was investing about £600m in transport schemes in north Wales - including in north west Wales, such as the third Menai crossing.
He said the metro suited urban areas, such as in the north east, and more "rural solutions" needed to be found for the north west.
The economy secretary also announced a public consultation would be held into the future of bus services across Wales.
Mr Skates said bus services needed to be reformed, to make sure services were available when and where people needed them.
But the Tory's north Wales spokesperson Mark Isherwood said: "This announcement is a smokescreen for the Welsh Government's failure to deliver what the region really needs, which is meaningful progress on the North Wales Growth Deal.
"Conferring greater powers on North Wales is a crucial and necessary step to reinvigorating the North Wales economy, yet the Welsh Government appears reluctant to put more power in the hands of local people."