Vale of Clwyd MP and Chair of the Mersey Dee North Wales All-Party Parliamentary Group, Dr James Davies, has welcomed today’s news that North Wales will retain its direct rail links with Manchester Airport under new rail route proposals, having called for this option since March.
It had been feared that North Wales could lose the service after three options were put forward by transport chiefs at the start of the year.
In a submission to the Manchester Recovery Taskforce public consultation in March, James wrote in support of its option B, which would retain direct access to Manchester airport from North Wales.
He is therefore delighted that the views of the APPG and other stakeholders have been listened to, with the Taskforce confirming today that they have opted for Option B, with existing services retained and some additions.
Welcoming the news, James said:
“I am very relieved that North Wales won’t lose its hard fought for direct rail links with Manchester Airport under these new rail route proposals.
“As I stated in our submission to the taskforce, “Transport links between North Wales and Manchester are incredibly important. Indeed, mobile phone data, as acquired by Transport for Wales, demonstrates that in normal times, over a 24 hour period, 153,000 journeys are made between North Wales and North West England. That figure is 20 times higher than the number of journeys from North Wales to other regions of Wales. A large majority of these journeys are currently made by car, largely due to inadequate public transport options. As an example, the 65 miles from Prestatyn to central Manchester currently takes up to 105 minutes on the train, while the same distances is covered in under 50 minutes in many parts of southern England.
“Retaining a direct rail connection with Manchester Airport is particularly important in order to allow our region to cater for inbound tourism and students. In 2019, the airport welcomed 522,000 tourists destined for Snowdonia or other areas of North Wales, and 22% of them used rail services upon arrival. In the same year, Manchester Airport accommodated 899,000 passengers in total from North Wales, both for business and leisure purposes. Just 7% accessed the airport by rail and there is much potential and need to increase rather than suppress this.
“It is only Option B which retains services to both Piccadilly and the Airport. We would strongly urge you to adopt this option, should the changes outlined in the consultation proceed. This is very important in the context of the "Levelling Up", "Union Connectivity" and decarbonisation agendas. It is also important in terms of the future assumed connectivity of the HS2/NPR interchange at Warrington.” “
“The chosen timetable, once finalised, is being designed to reduce service delays by 25%, improving punctuality and journey reliability for the 150,000 regular passengers on Manchester’s rail network as they return after the pandemic, and has the support of both Government and Northern leaders.
“As the Minister of State for Transport, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has said “prior to Covid, passengers across the region did not receive the reliable service they require, and the Taskforce’s proposed changes ensure that as passengers return, the services are restored in a more reliable way.”
“The new-look timetable aims to create a simpler, more evenly spaced timetable that reduces the risk of delays from a congested network, delivering a service that people can rely on, and I hope it will be very much welcomed by rail users here in North Wales.
“There does however remain much work to do to reduce rail journey times from North Wales to Manchester and beyond, and I and my colleagues await the release of the Union Connectivity Review, which we hope will make the clear case for investment in this.”