Cross-border Transport

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st January 2018.

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Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Labour, Weaver Vale 12:00 am, 31st January 2018

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on improving cross-border transport links between Wales and England.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on improving cross-border transport links between Wales and England.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on improving cross-border transport links between Wales and England.

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

I hold regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues and the Welsh Government on modernising cross-border transport connectivity. With 50% of the Welsh population living within 25 miles of the border, improving connectivity is central to delivering economic growth on both sides.

Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Labour, Weaver Vale

If providing funding to remove the tolls from the Severn bridge is good enough for the people of Wales, why not extend such a generous Government offer to the people of Cheshire and Merseyside and do away with the tolls on the Mersey Gateway?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

The tolls on the Severn crossing have been there for more than 50 years, and the Mersey Gateway bridge has very different levels of tolls from those that were levied on the Severn crossing. Locals will not have to pay on the Mersey Gateway bridge, other than the £10 administration fee; locals around the Severn tolls have had to pay the full charge for 50 years.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

My constituents were pleased to see a commitment to fund a business case to improve the Wrexham to Bidston line in the autumn Budget, but we have not actually had any progress since then. We would really like to see some improvements in both efficiency and frequency on that line, so can the Secretary of State update us on what progress has been made with respect to that?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and to Ian C. Lucas, who has highlighted the importance of the Wrexham to Bidston line. It forms part of our cross-border growth strategy and is reflected in the UK’s industrial strategy. I spoke with the Welsh Government’s Transport Minister on Monday to discuss the project and we will be updating the hon. Gentlemen and the House in due course.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The industrial areas around my constituency, which include Airbus in Broughton and Deeside Industrial Park, absolutely depend on the M56 running smoothly. Has the Secretary of State had any conversations with Highways England, or his counterparts in the Transport Department, about when we shall get that motorway unclogged and running smoothly?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

Again, the hon. Gentleman highlights the importance of cross-border connectivity. I would point him to the second road investment strategy for England, which will provide an opportunity to highlight the priority. A million people a week cross that border between north Wales and the north-west of England; 2,000 go to Airbus alone.

Photo of Antoinette Sandbach Antoinette Sandbach Conservative, Eddisbury

Does the Secretary of State agree that the UK Government’s investment in the Halton curve significantly improves rail services between my constituency and north Wales, and that there was a missed opportunity with the Welsh Labour Government in the failure to include that train line in the TEN-T network in the last round of European funding?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

The Halton curve, which is approaching £18 million in terms of the spending cap, is an exciting project because it is a relatively simple, straightforward investment that will bring direct services to Liverpool again, improving cross-border connectivity, releasing new opportunities for economic growth and development. We want to integrate it into both the north-west of England and the Wales and borders franchises.