Senior figures from Manchester and Liverpool have joined forces to back a campaign to secure £1 billion of rail improvements across North Wales and Cheshire.
Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson are among a range of senior figures to call for the government to back the Growth Track 360 campaign.
Chris Oglesby, chairman of Manchester Science Partnerships, and Councillor Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel and a member of the Rail Taskforce leading Growth Track 360, have also thrown their weight behind the campaign.
The campaign is being led by a cross-border alliance of business, political and public sector leaders.
If successful, it would lead to a massive boost to the North Wales, Cheshire and Wirral economies, linking them with the planned HS2 line between London and the North of England, and better connecting them to Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region.
The Manchester leaders have joined their counterparts across North Wales, Cheshire and the wider North West in calling for the investment, which would transform the regional economy and support the delivery of 70,000 new jobs over 20 years.
Business owners and operators are also being urged to show their support, by signing up to the campaign online at www.growthtrack360.com.
Sir Richard Leese, said: “Connectivity is critical to the strength and development of the region. Improving transport links between North Wales, Cheshire and Greater Manchester will provide a tangible boost to business and support our Northern Powerhouse aspirations.
“Opening up communities, increasing networks, and delivering access to employment opportunities across the regions is key to strengthening our local economies and creating a more effective, connected and ultimately, powerful whole and I am fully behind this much-needed campaign.”
Joe Anderson, said: “The economies of Merseyside and North Wales have always been closely linked and we strongly support the Growth Track 360 campaign. If successful, the campaign will generate significant additional investment in the regions, while increasing employment opportunities, boosting competition and driving forward growth.
“This investment will help businesses on both sides of the border to shake off the shackles created by disjointed and weak transport links, and create easily accessible transport connections between major developments like the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone and key employment hubs.”
Chris Oglesby said: “I’m very pleased to be supporting the Growth Track 360 campaign. We need to reassure fast-growing companies with global ambitions that the Northern Powerhouse is open for business and providing an efficient, affordable public transport network that connects our regional towns and cities and major transport hubs is critical to this.
“Improving connectivity across the North West, North Wales and Cheshire will also open up businesses across the regions, making them more attractive to ambitious, mobile graduates and improving the region’s competitiveness as a centre for excellence in key sectors.”
Councillor Liam Robinson said: “Investing in and improving our public transport networks is crucial if we are to move forward as a connected, successful Northern Powerhouse. Transport infrastructure enables the lifeblood of our economy to flow, connecting people with places, and demand with supply. This is key to driving forward our regional economies and ensuring that we are a strong and connected economic force and without an effective transport network, our industries and communities will wither.
“I am backing the Growth Track 360 campaign and hope to see this investment unlock the economic potential that is lying dormant in so many of our towns and cities and boosting the ambitious businesses that call our region home.”
The 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.
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.