Labour Assembly Member Ken Skates has called on the UK Government to put in place a clear timetable for electrification of the North Wales mainline railway.
The call comes after the Department for Transport at Westminster said an announcement about plans for the next phase of High Speed Rail north of Birmingham will be published early in the New Year.
The Clwyd South AM said the announcement was a pivotal moment for North Wales and risked leaving the region in the economic ‘second tier’ if a plan to electrify the North Wales mainline was not put in place to retain business confidence in the future of the area.
He said: “I fully support the UK Government as it develops the High Speed Rail programme, it could help secure quicker journey times and deliver economic growth to areas outside London and the South East that badly need it.
“My only concern with how the project is being progressed is that the current plan risks leaving North Wales in the economic second tier if there is no realistic timetable put in place to electrify the North Wales mainline at the same time.
“As the economy picks up businesses will be making strategic decisions about where to invest in the medium to long term and if they see ambitious plans to extend High Speed Rail to areas such as Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and South Wales, but no plans to upgrade the North Wales line, it is inevitable that investment and jobs will migrate to those more accessible areas.
“We need to see the business case for North Wales electrification progressed and then a coherent plan, backed by both the UK and Welsh Governments, to get the North Wales mainline electrified as soon as possible.
“If we don’t do this at the same time as progressing HS2 then the North Wales region will not benefit from High Speed Rail, indeed it might even damage economic confidence in the area. You can’t upgrade the infrastructure of parts of the UK in a piecemeal fashion, every regional economy needs a good transport network and there needs to be a coherent plan for the whole of the UK.
“The UK Government has been clear in its ambition to increase prosperity to the regions of the UK, now it is time to follow through on that commitment.”