Transport Minister Edwina Hart has set out the case for electrification of the North Wales coast main line by 2024, which is vital to realising the economic potential of the region.
The Minister on Thursday, 31 March submitted an Outline Business Case for electrification of the line from Holyhead and Llandudno to Warrington and Crewe to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin. It has been developed with the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, the Mersey-Dee Alliance and the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership as part of a wider partnership to unlock the full economic potential of the area.
The business case points out that investment in rail infrastructure will support key employment and strategic developments in the North Wales / North West region that have the potential to bring forward over 1000 hectares of employment land, realise 1 million square feet of city centre commercial space, and deliver 70,000 new jobs by 2040. For the potential of the area to be realised, it will be necessary to draw on a deeper and wider labour market of employees. Rail has to play a vital role in enabling the movement of labour into employment areas from a wider catchment area along the North Wales Coast and beyond.
Mrs Hart said:
“The North Wales, Cheshire and Wirral areas have an economy with an output of £35bn per annum which is unique in scale as a cross border economy in the UK. The significant potential for further economic growth is being held back by the inadequate rail infrastructure in the region. Network Rail anticipates an increase in demand for rail services between North Wales and North West England of 80% by 2043 which demonstrates the strength of the economic links between these regions and the future inter-dependence.
“Our business case for the electrification makes clear how electrification and modernisation of the railways in North Wales will deliver significant economic and employment benefits across the region. Network Rail’s Welsh Route Study has already listed this as a priority project for Control Period 6, from 2019 to 2024, and I urge the Secretary of State to ensure it is delivered then.”