Could HS2 make it to Wales as rail chiefs renew calls to electrify line?

Business and council leaders have renewed calls for rail investment in North Wales and Cheshire. The Growth Track 360 partnership this week released a conceptual art picture of a HS2 train in North Wales. It was to highlight the need for major investment in the network - including electrification of the line to North Wales.

The group is pressing UK Government to spend big after decades of under-investment in Wales. UK Government is spending over GBP100bn on HS2 which is classed as an England and Wales project despite the fact none of the high speed line will be built in Wales. Growth Track 360 wants a circa GBP750m investment in services in North Wales and Cheshire

This would include the electrification of the North Wales main line. That would allow services to link in more easily with HS2 at Crewe or even bring the high speed trains to the region. Growth Track 360 has commissioned a series of conceptual artworks to assist the public in visualising the proposed improvements.

The works are being produced by Nataliia Marchuk, a Ukrainian Fine Arts undergraduate at the University of Chester. The first of these works - which accompanies this news release - shows an HS2 train passing Conwy Castle on an electrified North Wales Main Line.

Growth Track Objectives:

  • Transformation of the Wrexham-Bidston line to permit direct running of metro frequency trains from Wales into Liverpool city centre, along with a new station at Deeside Industrial Park;
  • Complete modernisation of Chester station as the gateway for tourism and commerce to Cheshire and North Wales:
  • Electrification of the North Wales Main Line to Crewe and Warrington, allowing HS2 trains to run directly from London and Birmingham to Chester and beyond.

As an early step in this programme of improvements, Growth Track 360 will support a renewed bid by Flintshire Council to the UK Levelling Up Fund for development of Deeside Industrial Park station and track improvements to the Wrexham-Bidston line at the Padeswood cement terminal. Growth Track 360 Chair and Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Councillor Louise Gittins, said: "With the local elections settled and new railway legislation about to be launched by the UK Government, now is the time to bring forward the investment programme we need to support a long-term and irreversible improvement to the economic fortunes of our cross-border region.

We stand ready to work with the UK Department for Transport, the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, Network Rail and other agencies to bring about such a transformation." Growth Track 360 Business Representative, Ashley Rogers, Chief Executive of the North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council, said: "The cross-border North Wales Mersey Dee region is a powerhouse of modern industry as well as one of the UK's most magnetic regions for tourism thanks to our outstanding coastline, countryside and world class attractions. As we strive for a sustainable, Net Zero Carbon future along with economic recovery from the pandemic, it is critical for the UK Government to release the funds necessary to accelerate the long overdue investment programme for our region's rail infrastructure network."

Railway engineer and writer Gareth Dennis told the New Civil Engineer that the proposal is feasible

He said: "If you then fully electrify that line, you'd just need to ensure signalling worked with the new trains and that anywhere the trains intended to stop had long enough platforms.

Both Bangor and Holyhead have long enough platforms for a 200m train."