New Wales and Borderlands Rail Franchise offers “Opportunity for Improvement in Rail Services” for North Wales and the Mersey Dee Region

Growth Track 360 has campaigned for big improvements in the rail infrastructure and services in the North Wales and Mersey Dee geographies with a particular emphasis on improving services into Liverpool and Manchester. The new Wales and Borderlands Franchise is a step forward in securing a “fit for purpose” rail system that supports the region’s aspirations for economic growth and prosperity.

Councillor Samantha Dixon Chair of the Growth Track 360 Board and Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Growth Track 360 welcomes the new franchise initial specifications. The proposals go some way to realising the ambition for our network that was set out in the Growth Track 360 prospectus.

“We especially welcome the commitments for direct trains to Liverpool from North Wales, the proposals for new and improved rolling stock with increased capacity, the long-awaited confirmation of additional services between Wrexham and Bidston, accelerated journey times and the ambitious programme of station improvements.

“The good news on the franchise builds on commitments from the Department for Transport to prepare and consider business cases for improved line speeds on the North Wales Coast and Wrexham to Bidston lines. We are also receiving support for improvements at Chester Station that will enable more through services to and from North Wales.”

The GT360 Board has learnt that improving rail services is a slow process and much remains to be done. The cost of developing business cases for rail investment is a particularly challenging issue. We will continue to campaign for: –

  • Integration into the rail planning processes for Transport for the North (TfN)
  • Better connectivity with Manchester and its Airport in particular
  • Better connectivity with Crewe and HS2
  • Three strategic hubs within the TfN West and Wales corridor linking to Northern Powerhouse rail, Manchester Airport and HS2 at Crewe
  • Electrification of the Chester to Warrington to enable electrified services into Manchester
  • Electrification of the Holyhead to Crewe line with classic compatible services running from North Wales onto the HS2 line to London.


Councillor Aaron Shotton, Chair of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, GT 360 Board member and Leader of Flintshire County Council said: “We will work with Keolis Amey, Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government to take the opportunities offered by the new franchise and to ensure that future commitments like new rolling stock are delivered “on-time”.

“Growth Track 360 is campaigning for a rail network and services that can support employment and economic growth by enabling more people to use rail as an alternative to the car. The franchise proposals give us a platform to work on ideas in the North Wales Growth Bid to create integrated transport hubs around our principal stations and link rail services with major centres of population, employment, retail and health service delivery.

“Proposed fare reductions in North Wales are a significant opportunity make rail services support the economy along with investment in stations (e.g. more parking places) and transport hubs at Deeside, Shotton and Wrexham. We hope to use the Growth Bid to rollout similar initiatives across North Wales.

“We look forward to working with Keolis Amey and Transport for Wales to develop enhanced community rail proposals on our key routes including the Conwy Valley Line and the Wrexham to Bidston line.

“Growth Track 360 is a partnership that has delivered for North Wales by working in partnership with partners across the border who have common strategic and economic interests.

“We are grateful to the Welsh Government for their work on the franchise which has created the opportunities to develop our rail network.”

Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Transport, Ken Skates said: “Each day more than 23,000 commuters travel from North Wales into North West England and 20,000 in the opposite direction which is the key reason why having excellent rail connectivity is vital to the economy on both sides of the border.

“It is an important time in the history of rail in Wales and last week I announced further details about the new Wales and Borders Franchise. I am fully confident that our new rail services contract will deliver an improvement in the service provided to passengers on the North Wales coast mainline and across Wales and the Borders.

“The Growth Track 360 campaign has been a major influence on the improvements proposed for North Wales and the Mersey Dee areas in the new Wales and Borders rail service contract. I have worked closely with Growth Track 360 and I am grateful for their support. I will continue to support their work promoting the key investments necessary to improve rail connectivity and maximise the benefits rail investment can bring to the economy.”



Councillor Dixon:

Telephone: 01244 972216



North Wales Economic Ambition Board

Iwan Prys Jones, 07796 930180


Welsh Government:

Swyddfa/Office: 0300 062 5477
Symudol/Mobile: 07875 384 239

E-bost/E-mail: Shaun.Holden@Gov.Wales


Notes to Editors:

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.

The campaign 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 electrification of the Chester to Warrington line to connect to Northern Powerhouse Rail services
  • 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

Initial research suggests delivery of the improvements would lead to 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.

Copies of the Growth Track prospectus can be downloaded from