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House of Commons Hansard
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Cross-border Transport
31 January 2018
Volume 635
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5. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on improving cross-border transport links between Wales and England. [903565]

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13. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on improving cross-border transport links between Wales and England. [903574]

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14. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on improving cross-border transport links between Wales and England. [903575]

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and to the hon. Member for Wrexham (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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.