A campaign to secure £1 billion of rail improvements across North Wales and Cheshire is being backed by an all-party parliamentary group.
The task-force leading the campaign has won the support of the North Wales and Mersey Dee All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), after presenting its prospectus – Growth Track 360, Connected Within an Hour.
Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, chair of the group, said it ‘strongly supports’ the campaign.
Research suggests that Growth Track 360 would transform the regional economy – fast-tracking economic growth and boosting GVA (the value of goods and services in the region each year) to £50.5 billion over 20 years and delivering 70,000 jobs in the same period.
In an open letter penned by Mr Lucas on behalf of the APPG, he said the integrated, cross border economy had suffered from fragmented planning and investment for too long.
He welcomed the proposals, which he said addressed the fundamental weaknesses of the rail network in the area and looked at the rail infrastructure as a single, connected entity.
In the letter - addressed to Councillor Samantha Dixon, chair of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force leading the campaign - Mr Lucas added: “Currently our rail network is uncompetitive with the motor car and is unable to make a significant contribution to economic growth.
"Your proposals will enable better connectivity with the cities driving the Northern Powerhouse concept and their airports, Manchester and Liverpool.
“They will enable better movement within the region to access employment and visitor attractions. We are very excited by proposals to connect up to seven major enterprise zones from Anglesey to Warrington, including employment growth zones in Deeside, Wrexham, Chester, Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port.
"We welcome improved services to London and the identification of being HS2 ready by 2027 as essential.”
Councillor Samantha Dixon, said: “Such great support from the All Party Parliamentary Group is fantastic for our campaign, representing as it does MPs from all the different political parties with constituencies across the whole area of North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire.
"This shows that members of the Houses of Commons and Lords all recognise the significance of this campaign.
“This is a campaign which has the potential to truly transform the lives of people across the wider region and beyond. If successful, Growth Track 360 will future-proof the region’s transport infrastructure and deliver a connected, collaborative and effective network that will enable our companies and industry to broaden their horizons and compete effectively on a national and global scale.”
Ashley Rogers, chair of the North Wales Business Council, said: “We welcome the APPG’s support for the Growth Track 360 campaign.
"This investment has the potential to revitalise the regional economy and give it a much-needed and long-awaited shot in the arm, and it’s fantastic to see such strong impetus growing behind the campaign from both the public and private sector.
"We look forward to seeing this support continue to mushroom as people realise how critical this investment is for the future of our economy.
"We also want to encourage members of the public and the business community to get behind Growth Track 360 by signing our online campaign at www.growthtrack360.com.”