Electrification heading down the line for North Wales?
The North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force (NW&MD) has recently launched a campaign calling for the £1bn electrification of the North Wales railway line from Chester to Holyhead. It is hoped that the line would connect North Wales with HS2 bringing 70,000 jobs across the Cheshire, Mersey Dee and North Wales regions. Flintshire County Councillor Derek Butler, chairman of the Mersey Dee Alliance, said, “We have economic and business assets of national and international significance but cannot make the most of these without a rail system which meets our needs for the future.” NW&MD is supported by all eight local authorities along the rail line. The project would provide increased services, modern rolling stock and better journey times across the network.
Support in Westminster?
Members of Parliament across North Wales have regularly called for the electrification of the railway line due to the added economic and social benefits it would bring to the region. Former Wales Secretary, David Jones MP (Clwyd West), is vocal in support of the campaign, commenting, “Businesses look at whether they can get to and from London in two hours. At the moment, they can get to Chester but not North Wales. Electrification of the line from Crewe to Holyhead would change that and bring businesses here, and that will mean new jobs.” With the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, committed to supporting infrastructure spending to assist economic growth, this project may be given fair wind. In the wake of the EU referendum the Government has stated its commitment to infrastructure spending in order to reassure businesses community and the wider economic markets.
Quite a journey…
Political support for such schemes can, however, fluctuate. The political cycle, national opinion and changes in the economy can all affect their prospects. Given the timescales involved for a project of this size, a strong, consistent and collaborative approach from local government, quangos, local businesses and the public is required in order to demonstrate the need for government funding. Grassroots support from communities across the region will amplify the perceived need for such an investment to those in authority. It will be important for NW&MD to ensure that the benefits of electrification to the region are heard amongst the other national news stories in this time of change in British politics.
At Remarkable, we have the expertise to help bring together these coalitions, and shape the messages so that they are heard by decision-makers. If you need help making your voice heard, get in touch – we’d be happy to discuss it with you.