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Cross-border Transport

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th January 2017.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham 12:00 am, 12th January 2017

What recent discussions he has had with Ministers of the Welsh Government on cross-border transport.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently met the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Mr Ken Skates. Their positive and useful discussion recognised the importance of cross-border transport and our commitment to deliver improvements, such as the investment we are making in the Halton curve.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

The investment by the Welsh Government of £43 million in the Wrexham to Chester line, mainly in England, will lead to a partial dualling of that line by April this year. What more will it take to persuade the UK Conservative Government to match the Welsh Government’s investment by investing in more transport infrastructure in that region, for which an unanswerable case has been made?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government are already investing significantly in our rail network—more than at any point since the Victorian era. The Mersey Dee rail taskforce has produced its growth prospectus—Growth Track 360—and it is working with the rail Minister, my hon. Friend Paul Maynard. I understand that it is now prioritising its objectives, and we will continue to work closely with it.

Photo of Neil Carmichael Neil Carmichael Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee

The case for reopening the station at Bristol Road, Stonehouse, has been well argued and firmly established. Does the Minister agree that that is exactly the kind of initiative we need to enhance links between Wales, Gloucestershire and the south-west of England?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My hon. Friend makes a valuable point, and I agree with him.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

The Minister mentioned the Halton curve; he will know that it is an important part of the cross-border links between my constituency and Wales. Will he confirm that the project is on time, and tell us the date on which it will be completed?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I will check the latest information and write to the hon. Gentleman, but my understanding is that it is exactly on time.

Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

As the Minister knows, the Operation Stack relief lorry park is vital for cross-border transport links between Kent and the continent. The owner of Westenhanger castle has been actively seeking a meeting with the Department for the past six weeks to discuss accessing the compensation package that he has agreed with Highways England, in return for which he will withdraw his application for a judicial review against the park. Will the Minister urge one of his ministerial colleagues to meet me and the owner of Westenhanger castle so that we can resolve this matter and get on with building the lorry park?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

That was a very entrepreneurial question, Mr Speaker. I can certainly confirm to my hon. Friend that the roads Minister, my right hon. Friend Mr Hayes, will indeed meet him.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda

The Government could do something about the cross-border position between the Rhondda valley and the upper Afan valley because they still own the tunnel that was used by the train from Treherbert down to Swansea. Will the Government please make sure that I can have the meeting with the Secretary of State for which I have been asking for several weeks to come up with innovative ideas so that this can become a major new cycle track?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am afraid that my local knowledge of those tunnels has not kept pace with the hon. Gentleman’s. All I can say is that I have heard his point and will take it forward with my colleagues.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Labour, City of Chester

Six lines radiate out from Chester, two of which are cross-border lines, hence the “360” in Growth Track 360. Chester is recognised as a pinch point within that railway development, so may I invite the Minister to have his next meeting on cross-border transport with Ken Skates in Chester so that he can see what preliminary work might be done before he presses ahead with the main work?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

It is always delightful to visit the city of Chester, and I look forward to doing so.