CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called on the UK Government to restore a direct rail link between Wrexham and London.
Following the collapse of the franchise process for the West Coast Main Line last year, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced in December that Virgin trains had been awarded a two-year extension to its franchise on the line while a new tendering process was developed.
The stop gap solution also saw the UK Minister announce a new direct rail service between London and Shrewsbury, but said that the service will not carry on to Wrexham.
The Clwyd South AM, a member of the Welsh Assembly Transport Committee, said the arrangement ‘short changed’ his constituents and called for an urgent re-think.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said:
“The fiasco over the West Coast Mainline franchise is turning out to be very damaging to passengers and businesses across North East Wales.
“We do not know what West Coast services to Wrexham will look like in the long-term and while they clear the mess up we will also be denied a direct rail link to London because the new service will stop at Shrewsbury and go no further.
“Proposals for a direct service to Shrewsbury without an equivalent service to Wrexham short changes passengers and businesses in my constituency. The previous Wrexham to Marylebone open access service was rated one of the best on the network by passengers proving there is a viable market for such a route.
“Virgin had previously stated that they would develop a Wrexham to London direct service three times a day, and the chaotic mismanagement of the West Coast franchise has now seemingly scuppered this with only a direct London to Shrewsbury service being promised out of the mess.
“The UK Government and the Department for Transport seem to have an on-going policy of ignoring North Wales when it comes to strategic rail investment. We have no plan for electrification of the North Wales mainline, we’ve missed out on a Wrexham to London direct service and we have no concrete timetable for the introduction of either.
“Other areas are much better served when it comes to rail, with serious investment being ploughed into other parts of the regional rail network. It’s time for the UK Government to start playing fair by passengers and businesses in North East Wales and start planning long-term investment and services for the area.”
The original franchise process for the West Coast Main line fell apart in October after it was discovered officials had made mistakes in their calculations over the £5 billion process.
A damning report attacked the Department for Transport over its handling of the franchise process.