Maria Carr writes for the BDAILY.co.uk:
Businesses and residents across Cheshire and North Wales are being urged to have their say on the Government’s plans for Crewe station – to make sure the area isn’t left behind when HS2 is built.
Delegates at a Business Growth North Wales Conference were told how the development of a major HS2 Hub at Crewe will be a ‘critical connection’ to boost businesses across the North West and North Wales.
Speaking at the one-day business conference, Ashley Rogers, Chair of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Business Council and a member of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force, highlighted the importance of the proposals currently under consultation for the development of a major HS2 Hub at Crewe’s existing station, which could give Crewe and the surrounding regions better access to conventional and HS2 rail services.
The North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force has been created to identify and promote rail improvements across Cheshire, Wirral and North Wales. Its Growth Track 360 Rail Prospectus sets out a vision for £1 billion of rail investment across Mersey Dee and North Wales which would deliver 70,000 new jobs and increase the area’s gross value added (GVA) to £50 billion.
The Growth Track 360 campaign and supporters highlight that only Scenario 3 as outlined in the current proposals for the Crewe hub will enable the infrastructure needed to deliver real benefit. This scenario could increase access to HS2 and connectivity to Manchester and the Midlands. This plan for the HS2 Hub could see it service seven HS2 trains per hour each way, linking up to the West Coast main line, Manchester, and Birmingham – and unlocking routes to North Wales. While a proposed north junction would enable North Wales and Chester high speed access to Manchester airport, Manchester and the Midlands, and 400m trains from London would enhance capacity.
Addressing delegates, organiser Ashley Rogers said: “A connected Crewe is key and we look forward to a thorough consultation which takes these issues into account and delivers the rail infrastructure our communities and businesses need. I’d like to encourage everyone here today to take the time to review the consultation documents and add their voices to the calls for a connected hub at Crewe, so that we can ensure that HS2 delivers real economic benefit to Cheshire and North Wales. Without a real hub at Crewe, I struggle to see any benefit to the cross-border region from the £55 billion investment in HS2.”
UK Government Minister for Wales, Guto Bebb MP, said: “The improved connections between North Wales, northern England and the Midlands that HS2 will bring can help deliver significant economic benefits to communities on both sides of the border. There is strong backing from businesses in Wales for a Hub at Crewe, and I support this vision. However it is important that we identify proposals which provide value for money to the taxpayer. I urge everybody with an interest to get involved in the consultation and tell us what you think.”
Cllr Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and chair of the NW&MD Rail Taskforce, said: “Properly connected – HS2 has the potential to transform the cross-border economy, unlocking commercial potential and enabling the flow of goods, services, and people across the length and breadth of the country.
“This is critical for businesses across the wider region and if plans do not take the cross border communities into account, this will be a missed opportunity that will negatively impact the lives of people living across the regions and have damaging long-term consequences, constraining economic growth and creating pockets of isolation.
“It’s key that businesses make their views known and respond to this consultation to ensure that this transformative infrastructure is delivered.”
The consultation closes on October 12 and people can share their views with the consultation online via http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/IBQWQ/
The article is also available online https://bdaily.co.uk/articles/2017/10/09/north-wales-businesses-urged-to-support-a-connected-crewe