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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Politicians battle over transport plans

Clwyd South politicians Ken Skates AM and Susan Elan Jones MP have called for a major review of transport infrastructure in North Wales.

The Labour team, who represent  Llangollen, said recent announcements of South Wales electrification and plans to push forward with High Speed Rail were welcome developments.

However, they said additional measures were needed to develop transport infrastructure in North Wales and maintain business confidence in the area.

Raising the issue in the Welsh Assembly Mr Skates  said: “The planned rail electrification for South Wales and the progress being made on High Speed Rail is good news, but it does mean that cross-border transport improvements in North Wales now need to be given a much bigger priority by both the UK and Welsh Government.

“If completed, the HS2 scheme will mean passengers being able to travel from London to Birmingham in just 49 minutes inevitably making the Midlands a more attractive place to do business.

“In addition South Wales electrification will reduce the average journey time from Paddington to Swansea by 20 minutes.  Together with the new £500 million investment into the western link to Heathrow, it’s a direct and indirect investment of almost £2 billion to modernise the rail network for South Wales.

“All this is welcome but it means we need to see infrastructure improvements to the road and rail network in North Wales so the region’s economy stays competitive.  The recent opening of the £30m access road for the Wrexham Industrial Estate was a very good start, but we need to take a more strategic view of the needs of North Wales.”

Ms Jones said:  “To support business and private travel, train journeys to North Wales have to be quicker and more direct than they are at present.

“An important first step would be the UK Government guaranteeing that the rail company that operates the new franchise for the West Coast mainline should have to ensure a more regular direct link between Wrexham and London as part of the agreement.

“I have always been a very strong supporter of High Speed Rail as I believe it could bring great benefits to North Wales.  However we must also electrify the North Wales mainline as the route needs to be directly connected to the proposed High Speed Line from London to the North West and Scotland.

“This, alongside other infrastructure improvements should be examined to ensure the economy of North Wales has the transport system it needs to stay competitive.  Business confidence is a nebulous thing, but we must not let the perception take hold that North Wales is falling behind.”

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