North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has received confirmation from Network Rail that work on a delayed rail scheme to improve train times between Wrexham and Chester will start in March next year.
The scheme includes doubling the rail track between Rossett and Saltney junction, and has been continually delayed in recent months, much to the frustration of passengers.
Network Rail have indicated that they will carry out the final commissioning work during late March and early April 2017.
Concerns were raised with Mr Isherwood by local rail users wanting to know when the new track layout will be brought into use.
Mr Isherwood (pictured) received confirmation of the dates after pursuing the matter with Network Rail
Mr Isherwood said: “I am delighted that a date has now been given, although it is disappointing it has taken so long. Last October the project appeared nearly complete, with two lines of track in place and a lot of infrastructure done. Local rail users told me that at that time the Network Rail Project Engineer was saying that the work would be completed on time and on budget and passengers had expected trains to be using the two tracks during last winter.
“They further told me that work came to a stop when it was discovered that signalling cable needed replacement - something outside of the Network Rail budget for the job despite the £44m allocated by the Welsh Government . The delays have been incredibly frustrating for passengers who travel between Wrexham and Chester.
“Whilst the new track might only allow one extra train per hour between Wrexham and Chester, it will provide extra rail capacity to handle trains when there is delay on the line. Conclusion of the project will reduce inconvenience for passengers who otherwise have to wait at Wrexham for a train to clear the long section before the next one proceeds.
“Rail users have told me that the continuing delays are causing frustration and they are concerned that the benefits from this commissioning are unlikely to be released until later in 2017.
“I will be keeping a close eye on progress, ensuring that my constituents aren’t further let down.”
The commissioning dates for the work are:
Package 1 – March 2017 - To connect the new signalling infrastructure into the existing systems at Chester and Wrexham. Network Rail will be taking full possession of the railway between Friday 24 March 2017 and Saturday 1 April 2017.
Package 2 – April 2017 - To enable line speed increases of 90mph, as well as connecting some additional new signalling infrastructure. Network Rail will be taking full possession of the railway between Shrewsbury and Gobowen from the early hours of Sunday 9 April 2017 until the early hours of Monday 10 April 2017.