North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM, to answer the calls of rail users in North East Wales and ensure improved services in the region in the future.
Responding to the Cabinet Secretary’s Statement on Transport ModernisationAn Update on the Wales and Borders Franchise and Metro Programmes’ Mr Isherwood (pictured) highlighted the issues facing rail users in the region and asked what action the Welsh Government is taking to address them.
He said: “Given evidence suggesting that 20 per cent of interview or job offers at Deeside Industrial Park are being turned down due to transport difficulties, and that the 2011 census shows the use of rail to travel to work in Flintshire at only 1 per cent - less than half the average for the whole of Wales, in a region where there’s a stronger economy and a significant population living within 5 km of existing stations - how will the Welsh Government’s proposals for rail transport in the region enable people to reliably get from where they are to where they wish to go, at the time they wish to travel, enabling those who can’t drive to access employment and promote a modal shift to rail in our region?
“What is the Welsh Government’s position on calls from rail user groups for two trains per hour on the Wrexham-Bidston route, starting earlier and continuing into the evening, within the franchise specification for 2018?”
He also asked: “With regard to the reference we’ve heard in your Statement to the metro programme for North Wales and the North Wales summit last Friday, in your Statement you say you want to maximise opportunities for cross-border connectivity and you refer to Growth Deals either side of the border. Is it not the case that we need a single Growth Deal with the Governments working together, which was the UK Government offer?
“I’m pleased that the (UK) Under-Secretary was present at the meeting on Friday, but could you comment in the context of that joined-up growth deal and the work of the North Wales Business Council, the Economic Ambition Board, the Mersey Dee Alliance, and others on a proposal that incorporates the whole of North Wales, from Holyhead through into north-west England, not just specifically what you’re referring to as the metro region?”
Mr Isherwood called for improved provision for disabled passengers to include those with sensory impairments - hearing and sight loss.
The Cabinet Secretary agreed that the Wrexham-Bidston line is a crucial route in the national rail network, and said he is “keen and determined that that route should have adequate investment to meet the needs of the passengers it carries and those people who would wish to use the service.”
He also agreed that better rail access is needed to Deeside Industrial Park, saying: “We have been able to identify the fact, that a new station will be required on Deeside Industrial Park as part of an integrated transport network for that specific region.”