More than 400 companies representing 300,000 people from across North Wales, Cheshire and Mersey Dee have voiced their support for a major campaign to deliver faster, more frequent rail services for people across the wider region.
The online campaign to secure the investment needed to deliver change across the wider region’s rail services has been strongly backed by businesses, politicians and the general public. Businesses say better rail services will help to deliver a faster rate of business growth and act as an economic driver for the regions.
The Growth Track 360 campaign is being driven by the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force (NW&MD) and has the backing of the region’s eight local authorities, the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, the Mersey Dee Alliance, the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, the North Wales Business Council and the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce.
It is calling for:
- The electrification of the line from Crewe to North Wales so the region can be linked to HS2 and fast London trains can continue to Bangor and Holyhead
- The doubling of frequency of trains between the North Wales Coast Line and Wrexham to Manchester through Chester
- Investment in new, modern, better-equipped rolling stock
- The creation of new services between Liverpool and Liverpool Airport to North Wales and Wrexham via Chester (Halton Curve)
- The doubling of journey frequency between Wrexham and Liverpool via Deeside and Bidston
“Good connectivity is vital”
Samantha Dixon, Chair of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Taskforce, said: “Good connectivity is a vital element of a healthy, growing economy – enabling the flow of goods and services, and crucially, helping companies attract and retain a talented, skilled workforce. The level of support for the campaign on both sides of the border and from all sectors of the economy really demonstrates how critical it is that change is delivered. We look forward to seeing continued momentum behind the campaign as we work to ensure our railways are future-fit and up to the task of opening up wider region and improving its economic capability.”
Initial research suggests that the Growth Track 360 package of investments would support the delivery of an estimated 70,000 new jobs across the North Wales and Mersey Dee region and the fast-tracking of economic growth so that GVA (the value of goods and services produced each year in the region) grows to £50.5bn in 20 years.
“A dynamic area with potential”
Ashley Rogers, chairman of the North Wales Business Council and member of the NW&MD Rail Taskforce, said: “We’re delighted to see such strong support from businesses and people across the North West and North Wales. Better rail connections are a key growth driver and would deliver widespread benefits both for business and for people living across the wider region. “This is a dynamic area which has the potential to deliver tens of thousands of new jobs within the next 20 years, and improved infrastructure has a key role to play in ensuring this vision becomes reality – opening up opportunities, attracting talented, skilled people from across the UK and helping the region to capitalise on its intrinsic strengths and grow and develop.”
Companies from a variety of sectors across North Wales, Cheshire and Mersey Dee including financial, professional and logistical services; advanced manufacturing, construction and engineering; and tourism, hospitality, leisure and retail added their support to the survey.
Liz Carnie, Finance Director at Chester Zoo, which supported the campaign, said: “Chester Zoo attracts 1.7 million visitors each year. We work in partnership with transport operators to promote the use of sustainable public transport to our visitors. Improved rail services to Chester will ensure our current and future visitors view rail travel as a viable and attractive way of reaching the zoo and the city, which will deliver positive impacts to our city and our environment.”
“Quality, modern transport a key enabler”
Martin Gray, Finance Director at Siemens, which also signed up to the Growth Track 360 campaign, said: “As a global exporter of locally manufactured products in North Wales our business relies on attracting a highly skilled, diverse workforce. High-quality, modern transport links are one of the key enablers to ensuring our region has a thriving economy and that we have access to key talent in the North Wales & Mersey Dee region. Excellent transport links are a key component in supporting our vital logistical needs to ensure that our business is easily accessible and our products can be transported globally. We take our employees’ wellbeing seriously and investment in a high-quality rail network in our region can only support this goal.”
Rachel Clacher, Director of the Wrexham-headquartered telephone answering service, Moneypenny, said: “Moneypenny is a successful business that currently employs over 500 people with ambitions to grow this number to 1000 over the next 3 years. Better connectivity and efficient connections are critical to us securing access to the labour markets we require. Moneypenny fully supports the rail prospectus.”
Businesses cited different reasons for their support, over 75 per cent of bigger companies cited the time savings Growth Track 360 would deliver as their primary motivation for supporting the campaign.
64 percent of smaller businesses said the campaign would give them better access to customers. While around 54 per cent of smaller companies also thought improved rail services would improve recruitment and help them to expand and create jobs.
Businesses also said campaign would help to reduce A55 traffic, create better connections to the rest of the UK, and have a positive impact on the environment by reducing diesel train usage.