Holywell’s 50-year wait for railway station rebirth hinges on UK Government pockets, Minister says
The reopening of a Flintshire railway station hinges on the UK government providing necessary funds and fulfilling its duty to bolster Welsh rail infrastructure, a Welsh government minister has said.
North Wales MS Mark Isherwood questioned the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, on the Welsh Government’s plans to reopen Holywell Junction Railway Station in Greenfield.
Politicians and community leaders aim to reintroduce trains to Holywell for the first time in over half a century.
The town has lacked a dedicated service for rail passengers since the Holywell Junction station in nearby Greenfield closed in 1966.
This means that residents must currently travel around five miles to Flint to catch trains along the north Wales coastline or towards Chester.
A new railway station with park-and-ride facilities would be a critical part of an integrated transport solution serving Holywell and North Flintshire.
The Welsh Government provided £50,000 for a feasibility study to further explore options for the development of a station at Greenfield.
Situated on the old Holywell Junction station site in Greenfield, a new station would provide a long-term and sustainable driver for the future economic wellbeing of Holywell and North Flintshire, linking in with the local Active Travel Plan.
In addition to Greenfield’s revival, the blueprint for Flintshire also includes the inception of a new station within the Deeside Enterprise Zone and strategic enhancements to Shotton station.
Mr Isherwood, a Conservative MS, expressed concern over the project’s progression, referencing the answer to a written question he received four years ago.
Speaking in the Senedd Chamber, he said: “In response to a Written Question four years ago, the then Minister for Economy and Transport stated that ‘The Welsh Government has established a 3-stage new station assessment process’ to ‘ensure a pipeline of new schemes is available to take advantage of future funding opportunities from the UK Government’, and that Holywell Junction Station in Greenfield had been added to the list of potential new stations.”
He continued: “In response to a Written Question I received from you this week, you referred to the Welsh Government’s ‘aspiration of reopening the Station should funding become available from the UK Government’, adding, ‘In the meantime, we are focusing our resources on getting the most from existing infrastructure, an approach supported by the North Wales Transport Commission in their interim report’. However, their interim report also includes support for the creation of a new Station at Deeside Industrial Park, and work to make Shotton Station an important interchange.”
“What further action has therefore been taken regarding Greenfield Station in the four years since I first raised this, and what is your current understanding of the position with Deeside Park and Shotton Stations?”
Lee Waters MS replied: “In those four years, rail infrastructure still has not been devolved to the Welsh Government as we would like.”
“We have taken steps to fund the first stages of the development of a business case in order to protect our aspiration for reopening the Holywell Greenfield station should station funding become available.”
“But, as he said at the beginning of this question, it’s ‘where opportunities for funding become available.’ Well, they don’t very often become available, and that is our problem.”
“We have a long pipeline of aspirations, including Deeside …. But in the absence of funding, or in the absence of the UK Government taking its responsibility to improve infrastructure for Wales, then our options are limited.”
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Isherwood said: “So, despite a 3-stage ‘station assessment process’ established by the Welsh Government in 2019, they have only ‘taken steps to fund the first stages of the development of a business case’ for reopening Holywell Greenfield Station. His response also failed to mention Deeside Park and Shotton Stations
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