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 Enhancing the Borderlands line

Enhancing the Borderlands line

Published on 21/07/2016

Proposals to develop improvements to cross border travel between the City Region and North Wales will go before the Merseytravel Committee next week Thursday 28th July.

Members will consider a report proposing the creation of a working group of key partners, together with the Welsh Government to investigate further a number of options geared towards enhancing the Borderlands line between Bidston and Wrexham.

Improving the quality and service levels on this line is a long standing aspiration for the City Region, set out in its Long Term Rail Strategy, and a recent study commissioned by Merseytravel into the potential development of the line provides an opportunity to move forward with a  more detailed analysis of options.
Current services are provided by Arriva Trains Wales and during the daytime, services are at hourly frequencies calling at all stations and the journey takes just under one hour. Frequencies are lower during the evening.
If approved, the working group would be tasked with further examining options which include doubling service frequencies during the day time to two services per hour, developing infrastructure improvements, notably line speed improvements, and considering new and or improvements to stations.
It should also be noted that the Borderlands Line has been identified within the ‘Growth Track 360’ prospectus. The prospectus calls for substantial investment in rail to enable growth in the cross-border economy of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Region. The prospectus identifies line speed improvements and increased service frequency on the line between Wrexham and Bidston as critical investments.
Said Frank Rogers interim chief executive for Merseytravel: “Improving the rail offer on this line is a long standing priority for the Liverpool City Region and its partners and we continue to work with the Welsh Assembly, with whom we have a long standing working relationship, to shape new and improved services.
“It is recognised that the City Region, North Wales, West Cheshire the Mersey Dee Alliance area form part of a common, recognisable economic travel to work area.
“The results of our recent study into the benefits and costs of improving the service provide us with the rationale to move forward with this and see what is possible.
“Cross border success through partnership working is important to us as the existing line has the potential to perform better in order to attract growth and boost employment, retail and leisure opportunities.”
As per the Long-Term Rail Strategy, the ambition remains for the line to be electrified providing a positive business case is ultimately proven. However, as electrification requires major investment the business case for such can be strengthened by increasing the number of people using the services such as through offering more frequent services. Therefore, the report outlines that until then, the focus should be on developing benefits which may be gained in the shorter term by focussing on the improvement of existing diesel services under the Wales and Borders franchise.