Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport
I am writing to update members on our plans for Transport Infrastructure in North Wales.
Members will be aware of The National Transport Finance Plan, which was updated in 2017 and sets out our programme for the next three years and beyond, across Wales. This includes investing over £600 million in transport infrastructure improvements across North Wales over the coming years.
Modernising transport in North Wales will contribute to the achievement of our well-being objectives. It will provide the right platform to deliver sustainable economic development, connecting people, communities and business to employment, services, facilities and markets through reliable, resilient infrastructure. It will also support an integrated approach to deliver the transition to a lower carbon and climate resistant society.
A key theme in the North Wales Growth Deal is better connectivity with a call for improved journey times on roads and rail. Specific projects are still under consideration and include a mixture of local and regional proposals.
We have an ambitious vision for transport in North Wales but we cannot achieve this on our own. It will require collaboration with a number of agencies on both sides of the border to deliver a transport system that meets the needs of people in the region and those who visit the area, enabling better access to existing and planned employment opportunities.
Partners on both sides of the border can contribute to the delivery of the vision through the targeting of their own resources to develop transformational change across the area.
With regards to specific projects, the following list details the road projects we are currently undertaking in North Wales:
A494/A55/A548Deeside Corridor Improvement Scheme
A487 Caernarfon to Bontnewydd bypass
Third Menai Crossing
A55 J15 - 16 improvement scheme
A55 Abergwyngregyn - Tai’r Meibion Improvement scheme
A494 River Dee Bridge Improvement
A483 Wrexham Bypass Junctions 3 - 6 Improvement
A5/A483 South of Wrexham Bypass to English Border Improvement
The following locations are also being considered as part of the £24 million pinch point and overtaking opportunity programme which commenced in 2017.
A483 Wrexham Bypass
A5/A483 Halton Roundabout
A55 J20 Colwyn Bay West End Slip Road
A55/A470 J19 Glan Conwy Interchange & Black Cat Roundabout
A55 Resilience Project
A487 Parc Menai Business Park Roundabout
The study into the resilience of the A55 and A494 corridor, which is reviewing the requirements of the route from Chester to Holyhead, has already produced some quick and short term win projects. Further short, medium and long term improvement options identified through the study are now being progressed through a Stage 2 WelTAG study for further appraisal.
Last year, I announced my intention to develop business cases for rail enhancement schemes in North and South Wales. Professor Mark Barry has led the development of the case for investment in rail infrastructure. The summary of the case for investment was published in the summer and sets out an overarching vision and set of objectives for the North Wales mainlines, and the Wrexham to Merseyside line. The first step in that process is the development of the strategic and economic cases for investment in Wales’ rail infrastructure in these areas and I will be making a further announcement on the progress we have made with this study. This work is already informing the individual scheme strategic outline business cases currently being developed by the Department for Transport which I expect to frame the development of an ambitious, realistic, and equitable rail investment programme for Wales.
Welsh Government continues to be engaged with Growth Track 360 members and partners including Warrington Cheshire East, Network Rail (Wales and London North West). It is important this relationship continues to maintain the cross-border alignment on rail improvements and to push for investment in infrastructure
Work on delivering the North East Wales Metro is progressing well and there is good engagement with key partners from both sides of the border. The Deeside Plan, Mersey Dee Alliance Growth Prospectus and the West and Wales Rail prospectus will all help inform the further development of the North East Metro vision. The development of schemes for an integrated Shotton station and a new Deeside Parkway station is ongoing. Proposals for a Wrexham General integrated transport hub are being taken forward as part of a wider Mold Road Wrexham development corridor study. This is in addition to the £10m I have committed at improving rail infrastructure in the Wrexham area that will go towards enabling more trains to travel via Wrexham and the surrounding area. Funding has also been provided to Flintshire County Council for schemes to improve access to and within Deeside Industrial Park with a focus on bus and active travel, and to Wrexham County Borough Council for improvements to Wrexham Bus Station.
Despite challenging budget settlements from the UK Government we have maintained Bus Services Support Grant allocations to local authorities at £25m pa. Each local authority determines which bus and community transport services to support using BSSG and its own budgets, according to its assessment of local priorities and circumstances.
Consideration of the options for enhancing arrangements for bus service delivery is already underway. Particular focus is being given to the possibility of creating a National Bus Network, achieving improved service and ticket integration, enhancing back office functions, ensuring a supportive legislative framework and the provision of a comprehensive and strategic funding package A White Paper to further develop these proposals is being constructed.
We also assist Local Authorities by providing funding so that they are able to complete Local Transport and Active Travel projects. Please see below details of successful applications for 2018/19
Local Transport Funding:
Anglesey - £441,008
Conwy - £1,472,366
Denbighshire - £424,464
Flintshire - £1,237,301
Gwynedd - £460,300
Wrexham - £483,191
Active Travel Fund:
Anglesey - £0
Conwy - £191,000
Denbighshire - £330,000
Flintshire - £1,767,000
Gwynedd - £0
Wrexham - £120,000
I have already announced Transport for Wales (TfW) intention to establish a Business Unit in Wrexham and I will provide a further update on progress in early 2019. TfW are already working from our Llandudno Junction office to support Welsh Government to deliver the Metro programme. They are also working closely with local authorities in the region as part of the Bus Service Review.
There is huge potential to deliver economic growth in North Wales. A modern, high quality integrated transport system is fundamental to achieving that potential and I am committed to investing in that work to ensure this region is a competitive and connected component of the UK economy.
Further information regarding the National Transport Finance Plan 2017 update can be found on our website at: