More than 400 companies have voiced their support for a major campaign to deliver faster, more frequent rail services for people across Cheshire, Mersey Dee and North Wales.
Growth Track 360 is an online campaign looking to secure the investment needed to deliver change across the wider region’s rail services and has been strongly backed by businesses, politicians and the general public.
The campaign is being driven by the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force (NW&MD) and has the backing of the region’s eight local authorities, the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, the Mersey Dee Alliance, the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, the North Wales Business Council and the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce.
It is calling for:
Samantha Dixon, chair of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Taskforce, said: “Good connectivity is a vital element of a healthy, growing economy - enabling the flow of goods and services, and crucially, helping companies attract and retain a talented, skilled workforce.
"The level of support for the campaign on both sides of the border and from all sectors of the economy really demonstrates how critical it is that change is delivered. We look forward to seeing continued momentum behind the campaign as we work to ensure our railways are future-fit and up to the task of opening up wider region and improving its economic capability.”
Companies from a variety of sectors across North Wales, Cheshire and Mersey Dee including financial, professional and logistical services; advanced manufacturing, construction and engineering; and tourism, hospitality, leisure and retail added their support to the survey.
Liz Carnie, finance director at Chester Zoo, which supported the campaign, said: “Chester Zoo attracts 1.7 million visitors each year. We work in partnership with transport operators to promote the use of sustainable public transport to our visitors. Improved rail services to Chester will ensure our current and future visitors view rail travel as a viable and attractive way of reaching the zoo and the city, which will deliver positive impacts to our city and our environment.”
Martin Gray, finance director at Siemens, which also signed up to the Growth Track 360 campaign, added: “As a global exporter of locally manufactured products in North Wales our business relies on attracting a highly skilled, diverse workforce. High-quality, modern transport links are one of the key enablers to ensuring our region has a thriving economy and that we have access to key talent in the North Wales & Mersey Dee region.
"Excellent transport links are a key component in supporting our vital logistical needs to ensure that our business is easily accessible and our products can be transported globally. We take our employees’ wellbeing seriously and investment in a high-quality rail network in our region can only support this goal.”
Businesses cited different reasons for their support, over 75% of bigger companies cited the time savings Growth Track 360 would deliver as their primary motivation for supporting the campaign.
64 %of smaller businesses said the campaign would give them better access to customers. While around 54% of smaller companies also thought improved rail services would improve recruitment and help them to expand and create jobs.
Businesses also said campaign would help to reduce A55 traffic, create better connections to the rest of the UK, and have a positive impact on the environment by reducing diesel train usage.