Studies take forward £60m Borderlands rail electrification
Passenger transport executive Merseytravel and the Welsh Assembly Government have commissioned a GRIP 3 study examining the next steps required to implement the £60m Borderlands project.
The Borderlands scheme would involve major investment including the electrification of some or all of the rail route between Wrexham to Bidston. The line between Wales and England currently suffers from a number of problems, including sub-standard infrastructure, track speed restrictions, tight turnaround times and a need to change at Bidston for cross border journeys.
GRIP 3 (Guide to Rail Investment Projects) work will examine all aspects of the project, including costs, benefits and funding, and is expected to be completed within weeks. A further study looking into the design of the scheme will follow later this year.
The initiative, a key part of Merseytravel’s rail improvement programme, could mean hundreds of thousands more passenger journeys on the cross-border rail line every year, improved connections between Wrexham and Liverpool city centre and access to the 8,000 plus at Deeside Industrial Park. It would also serve areas of high unemployment, including Beechwood, Woodchurch and inner Birkenhead.
Plans for the Borderlands project are currently being scrutinised in conjunction with the TAITH consortium (a joint board of the six local authorities in north Wales), The Welsh Assembly and the Mersey Dee Alliance.
Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, said: “This is a key route, which has fantastic potential. Our plans mean we could see new stations at Deeside and Woodchurch. The Borderlands scheme would open up direct commuter links between Liverpool and areas of north Wales including Wrexham, Deeside and Flintshire, providing a huge boost to the regional economy.”
Members of Merseyside's passenger transport authority and executive recently met Welsh Assembly Transport and environment ministers to discuss the plans and lobby for support for the scheme.