Posted: Wed 26th Jul 2023

North Wales railways overlooked? Deeside politicians challenge UK Government’s £680m support for Turkish project

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jul 26th, 2023

Two Deeside politicians are calling for North Wales to be made a priority for rail funding, voicing frustration over the UK Government’s support for a £680 million rail project in Turkey.

Jack Sargeant MS and Mark Tami MP have highlighted the lack of rail funding for Wales, even as the UK government backs international projects.

Their complaints come in the wake of the UK government’s refusal to allocate any consequential funding from the HS2 and the Powerhouse Rail projects in northern England to Wales.

Despite being designated as ‘England and Wales projects’, Wales will not benefit from any direct investment.

Sargeant and Tami have long campaigned for improved rail services in North Wales, citing the Wrexham to Bidston line as a potential beneficiary of increased funding.

“The Tories are treating us with contempt,” Sargeant stated, referring to the Conservative-led UK government. “For years, rail here has been underfunded. It’s time to prioritise North Wales.”

Tami echoed the Alyn and Deeside Senedd members’ sentiments, criticising what he views as a failure to invest in the country’s railways.

“The Tories are determined to undermine our railways,” Tami asserted. “To sneak this announcement out about supporting investment elsewhere really isn’t good enough.”

The UK government, through UK Export Finance, has underwritten a €781m ($867m) loan to facilitate the completion of a high-speed railway in southern Turkey.

The project will connect Mersin with Gaziantep, via Adana and Osmaniye, and is being implemented by the Turkish-Dutch corporation Rönesans Holding.

Defending the decision, Lord Malcolm Offord, UK Minister for Exports, highlighted the flourishing trade relationship between the UK and Turkey, which saw UK exports to Turkey reaching £8.5bn last year.

“UK Export Finance’s backing for this transformative high-speed railway adds to this success story,” he stated.

The loan for the Turkish project was provided by an international consortium of financiers, including JP Morgan, ING Bank, and BNP Paribas, with additional insurance provided by European companies SACE and OeKB.

Growth Track 360 

A cross-party partnership has reiterated its calls for rail investment to unlock North Wales and the border counties of England as global tourist destinations. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It comes after the publication of ‘Wales as a global tourist destination’ by the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Business and local authority leaders from North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester in the Growth Track 360 partnership have now renewed their call for rail investment to allow their cross-border region to take full advantage of the opportunities identified. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

This includes the complete modernisation of Chester station as the gateway for tourism to Cheshire and North Wales and the electrification of the North Wales Main Line from Holyhead to Crewe and Warrington. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The partnership argues that this would allow HS2 trains to run directly from London and Birmingham to Chester and into North Wales with one change for Heathrow Airport at Old Oak Common. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Growth Track 360 are also campaigning for: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

  • Upgrades to the North Wales Coast Main Line to increase capacity and line speeds to enable the North Wales Metro concept which will support tourists in moving around the region by public transport more easily;
  • Transformation of the Wrexham-Liverpool service to allow for frequent, direct services between the city centres; and
  • Improvements to bus and active travel networks throughout the cross-border region.

Growth Track 360 Chair and Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Councillor Louise Gittins, said: “Growth Track 360 submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee’s inquiry deploying well-evidenced arguments that our cross-border region is being held back in fulfilling its potential for economic growth boosted in part by tourism due to the lack of sustained and strategic investment in enhancements to the quality and capacity of our public transport networks. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​”

“This new report adds further to our compelling case which cries out for joint action by the Welsh and UK Governments.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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