The Minister has confirmed that a robust business case will be developed that will capture the full social, economic and environmental benefits for north Wales.
The business plan for modernisation will build on previous work done to date, including the important North East Wales Area Based Transport Study.
Carl Sargeant said:
“I want to see North Wales properly connected to the UK electric infrastructure, with effective cross-border links.
“I want to see rail operations across Wales developed to achieve enhanced services with efficiency savings leading to a fairer deal for passengers and taxpayers.
“Our prioritised National Transport Plan recognises that transport is an enabler for many aspects of the Welsh economy and we will continue to focus on improving the capacity and reliability of the main east-west road and rail corridors in Wales.
“Modernising the North Wales rail line is a key element of this ambition and has the potential of greatly improving the rail services and unlocking economic growth for the region, which will in turn help tackle poverty.”
Cllr Mike Priestley, Chair of TAITH said:
“The development of the rail network in the region is a key part of our transport strategy to support the growth of the economy in North Wales.
“We welcome the Ministers announcement regarding the development of a business case to support the modernisation of the rail network in North Wales, and will work with the Minister, Local Authority Leaders and their joint boards, and other key stakeholders to ensure that the business case is robust and links to other potential rail investments across the Country.
“We see improvement and modernisation of the rail network as part of a wider range of initiatives aimed at developing integrated transport solutions that enable people to access employment opportunities and services, without having to rely solely on private cars.”
In addition to the North Wales Coast Main Line (from Holyhead to Crewe), consideration will be given to the rail network in north-east Wales (including the Wrexham to Bidston line, the line from Wrexham to Chester, and the line from Chester to Warrington Bank Quay) in order to maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits to the region resulting from modernisation.
Work now begins on establishing the strategic case for investment, which will define the scope, objectives, benefits and long-list of options for the project. This in turn will lead on to a robust case for change, which will be complete this summer.
The Minister met with the Secretary of State for Transport, The Right Hon Patrick McLoughlin in November to underline the importance of modernising the north Wales rail line to improve connectivity to the region and support economic growth.