Road and Rail Campaigns

Late last month, I had a meeting with officials from the Department for Transport in London. I had previously met the Transport Minister, John Hayes, in Parliament to discuss pressing transport and infrastructure projects in North Shropshire, which I campaigned for during the election in June. I was elected with 33,642 votes and a 61 per cent share, new records for North Shropshire. This provides me with a strong mandate to take to the Transport Minister and his officials in the department.

The Department for Transport will publish Road Casualties Great Britain at the end of September. This document will detail the number of casualties on our roads and their cost. The figures which I had to show the John Hayes when he visited the constituency in March were stark. Since 1991, there have been over 1,785 casualties on the A5 north of Shrewsbury up to the Welsh Border at Chirk. At the last count, 1,407 of these were slight, 320 were serious and 58 of these were fatal. The dangerous mixture of commuters, farm traffic and Heavy Goods Vehicles makes it imperative that we dual and improve the A5. 

Last Friday in Llangollen, I met the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure for the Welsh Assembly, Ken Skates AM, to discuss my campaigns on road and rail. It was a very constructive meeting, as we are in agreement regarding dualling and improving the A5, building an A483 Pant to Llanymynech bypass in addition to deciding the criteria for the rail franchises up for tender. John Hayes had previously made it clear that we need cross-party and cross-border support and so I am delighted that Ken Skates agrees with me going forward.

This weekend, I received an email from a councillor in Pant explaining in detail how roadworks and traffic control on other roads were affecting the A483, which is a strategic Welsh road running through North Shropshire. It is crucial to get cross-party support on building an A483 bypass as it is a Welsh strategic road, which requires some funding from the Labour-held Welsh Assembly.

Ken Skates, the Minister responsible for the Wales and Border Rail Franchise, agreed with me that that bidders should offer to provide a regular service every 30 minutes from Shrewsbury to Birmingham and Shrewsbury to Manchester Airports. We want new, clean, faster, quieter, larger and more reliable trains. Neighbouring MPs and I are similarly in agreement.

Finally, Ken Skates and I will continue to work with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, to make sure that he includes requirements for bidders for the InterCity West Coast Franchise to extend the current Shrewsbury-London service on to Gobowen, Wrexham and Chester.