Cllr Samantha Dixon, Cllr Derek Butler, Ashley Rogers, Cllr Dilwyn Roberts, Colin Brew and Ken Skates
The transformation of rail networks across Cheshire and North Wales is celebrating a key milestone since launching one year ago.
The campaign, which is being driven by the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Task Force (NW&MD), wants to deliver faster and more frequent rail services for people living in the cross-border region.
Since forming, the group has hit a number of its key targets; deepening engagement across the cross-border region and securing commitment from key industry and political figures to transform the region’s rail networks.
Key to this was a comprehensive social and digital campaign that attracted the support of over 400 companies representing more than 300,000 people from the cross- border region.
The past year has also seen the group lobby parliament to drive change on key issues including the North Wales & Borders Rail Franchise, and secure the backing of the Prime Minister, who voiced her support for Growth Track 360 in the Commons.
On a more local level, cross-border politicians are now united firmly behind the campaign and are pushing hard to raise awareness, while key business organisations including the North Wales Business Council and Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership are also backing the campaign.
The group has also successfully lobbied alongside other key stakeholders to reinstate the Halton Curve line which will eventually create a direct link between Liverpool and North Wales. Work is now underway on the first phase of this development.
The Chair of the North Wales and Mersey Dee (NW&MD) Rail Taskforce, Cllr Samantha Dixon, said: “The campaign has had a fantastic first year and we’re pleased with what we have been able to achieve.
“There has been incredible support for this initiative from across the business community, our political representatives on a local and national level, and the private and public rail sector.
“At its heart, the Growth Track campaign is about creating the transport connections to unlock economic growth and ensure HS2 delivers the most possible benefit to the most businesses and people.
Iwan Prys Jones, Programme Manager, North Wales Economic Ambition Board, said: “The last 12 months have seen the GT360 campaign make real strides forward. We have ambitious targets for the cross-border region’s rail networks and are very encouraged by developments to date.
“The campaign has helped to drive substantial positive engagement from communities, businesses, and politicians across the regions and we’re pleased to see this growing and gaining critical mass.
“We look forward to seeing continued momentum build 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.”