I have been campaigning for better train services to and from North Shropshire since I was elected in 1997. As part of my pledge to build on this work, I included improving transport links as a key priority in my re-election campaign. I am therefore determined to see improvements to roads and rail services.
As part of this commitment I have arranged a further meeting with Virgin Trains in the House of Commons next week. During the last franchise bid both main bidders included the restoration of the service to Shrewsbury and it is almost a year since the new direct rail link between Shrewsbury and London opened. This followed a long campaign by the local MPs, working closely with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to re-establish this service.
This service is already bringing real benefits to the people of North Shropshire. It was terrible that we lost Wrexham and Shropshire as it served North Shropshire directly. For the whole of North Shropshire to get the most out of it we need to make the case to extend the service North of Shrewsbury to Gobowen and Wrexham. It is vital, therefore, that people use the Shrewsbury train so that we can make a strong case for the extension. I plan further meetings with Network Rail to discuss increased investment in the line and improvements to points which will increase line speeds between Wrexham and Shrewsbury.
I have had a positive letter from the Transport Secretary following our recent meeting, outlining the Government’s plans for local roads. He estimates that the costs of the proposed widening of the A5 to a dual carriageway is estimated to be £11.9million per mile. Highways England estimate that this would take 6-8 years to deliver but cost and timescales would depend on the specific circumstances of any proposed scheme.
The Secretary of State confirmed that he will liaise with me regarding a meeting in Shrewsbury to look at potential plans. This will give evidence to Road Investment Strategy 2 in 2016. I would encourage all local bodies and interested parties to contribute their ideas and information.
At the meeting, I also raised the issue of the Pant/Llanymynech Bypass which is probably the UKs longest running bypass campaign. When I met him before the election, the then Minister, John Hayes, confirmed that officials were in touch with their Welsh Government counterparts to discuss how cross border issues could be resolved and he expressed a willingness to see how the two Governments could work together. The Welsh government has recently confirmed that they will make improvements to this road on the Welsh side. It is vital therefore that we press on and I will work closely with Ministers on this.