Railways and North Wales

This article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News newspaper on 20 April 2016.
Last week, I was very  pleased to host a reception in the House of Commons for Virgin Trains. It was extremely well attended by Members of Parliament from across the country, including North Wales.
Railway travel is currently enjoying a powerful renaissance. In the year 2014-2015, some 1.654 billion passenger journeys on franchised rail services were completed in Great Britain – the highest number on record. Virgin’s West Coast  service is an important part of the new age of the train.
The Government has very ambitious plans for the railways. The Bill paving the way for the High Speed 2  (HS2) project has passed through the Commons, and consideration is also being given to an HS3 line, linking the great cities of northern England.
Rail  connectivity is, of course, vitally important for us here in North Wales. The Crewe to Holyhead line is heavily used, but is also noticeably inferior to the main London to Glasgow main line, with which it connects. Travelling, as I do, on the line every week, I know that the last 60 or so miles of my journey back from Westminster to Colwyn Bay will be considerably slower than what has preceded.
The upgrade of the North Wales line, therefore, is an absolute priority if the region  is not to fall behind the rest of the country.
That is why I have arranged for a delegation of North Wales council and business leaders leaders to accompany me to a meeting with George Osborne in Downing Street this week. It is essential that when the new HS2 rail hub at Crewe is planned, there should be provision for the connection of an electrified line to Holyhead.  The meeting, which is projected to last for a full hour, will enable the Chancellor to hear, first-hand, North Walians’ priorities for  improvement of this crucial piece of transport infrastructure.
The people attending the meeting will be from all parties and none. This is an issue that unites people of all political colours, and if  we are to make the progress we all seek, it is essential that we adopt a joined-up, “Team North Wales” approach.

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