COUNCIL leaders from Cheshire West and Chester, North Wales and the Wirral are urging the Chancellor to boost local rail investment ahead of next month's Budget.

Growth Track 360, a partnership established in 2016 with the goal of improving cross-border transport connectivity with specific emphasis on rail, have written to Rishi Sunak who is set to publish his Budget Statement on March 3.

Prior to the Chancellor’s Spending Review in November, Growth Track 360 had asked for a £20 million development fund to enable rapid progress with:

  • North Wales Coast Main Line improvements, including upgrading Shotton Station
  • Wrexham to Liverpool Transformation, including a new Deeside Parkway Station
  • Chester Station Modernisation (Chester City Gateway).

The Chancellor went on to launch the Levelling Up Fund which will provide seed-corn local infrastructure investment for England in £20 million lots.

In its new submission to the Chancellor, Growth Track 360 says it intends to apply to the Levelling Up Fund but believes that the cross-border nature of its priority rail schemes make direct action by the Chancellor the best way to get on with the necessary work quickly and bring rapid benefits in both England and Wales.

Growth Track 360 Chair, Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Cheshire and the Wirral are situated at the western periphery of the North of England with important economic ties to North Wales.

"This means that the Mersey-Dee region can be overlooked in transport planning for the North of England which centres on the trans-Pennine corridor.

"We already make a big contribution to the UK economy and can do even more with the right investment now.”

Growth Track 360 Vice Chair, Councillor Ian Roberts, Leader of Flintshire Council, added: “The Mersey-Dee region is located in North Wales and is a high priority area for rail improvement by the Welsh Government.

"However, rail infrastructure investment is still a UK Government responsibility. This means we need the Chancellor to take the lead in empowering infrastructure investment on both sides of the border to realise economic benefits in Wales and England.”