Doubling frequency of trains on Wrexham-Bidston line – Rail freight operator objects to proposals
Local business and council leaders are urging the rail regulator to authorise a proposed increase in passenger services between Wrexham and Bidston station after a rail freight operator objected to the plans.
Transport for Wales (TfW) has said it is committed to doubling the frequency of services in the line which serves a number of Flintshire stations including Shotton and Hawarden.
The Welsh government-owned train operator is proposing to operate two services per hour in each direction with alternate stopping and express services provided refurbished “metro-style trains.”
Class 230 D-Trains – which use the bogies and aluminium body shells of withdrawn London Underground trains – were initially expected to be operational by mid-2019 but the programme has been hit by significant delays.
Transport for Wales has said the introduction of the new Class 230 trains is now planned for the line in 2022 although no firm date has been set.
Approval for the increased frequency can only be granted by the independent regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), which also has to listen to representations from other passenger and freight train operators wishing to make different use of the capacity of the railway.
A spokesperson for Growth Track 360, a partnership of local business and authority leaders, said a “rail freight operator is understood to have objected to an application by TfW for track access to deliver the new service that has been promised to local communities.”
Growth Track 360 chair and leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Councillor Louise Gittins, said:
“Growth Track 360’s vision is to transform the Wrexham-Bidston line into a fast, frequent and reliable commuter, tourism and leisure railway serving Wrexham’s town centre and industrial estate, Deeside Industrial Park, Neston, Birkenhead/Wirral Waters and Liverpool city centre.”
“Approval of TfW’s plans for two trains per hour is a vital steppingstone towards our ultimate goal of four electric trains per hour between Wrexham and central Liverpool using modern, emissions-free battery power over the section from Wrexham to Bidston.”
Growth Track 360 vice chair and leader of Flintshire Council, Councillor Ian Roberts, said:
“Growth Track 360 is seeking investment from all available sources to transform the Wrexham-Bidston line, including a new parkway station at Deeside, modern park and ride facilities at Penyffordd and improved railway infrastructure for freight trains.”
“In the meantime, it is essential that TfW’s plans to double the frequency of passenger services are implemented to provide an attractive alternative to the private car and open up employment opportunities throughout our cross-border community.”
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