Owen Paterson column: Positive talks have taken place about the A5 and our rail service

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Staff Reporter

In June, I had a meeting with officials from the Department for Transport in London. I had previously met transport minister John Hayes in Parliament to discuss pressing transport and infrastructure projects in north Shropshire.

At the end of September, the Department for Transport will publish road casualties figures for Great Britain. The figures which I had to show John Hayes when he visited the constituency in March were stark.

Since 1991, there have been more than 1,785 casualties on the A5 north of Shrewsbury up to the Welsh border at Chirk. At the last count, 1,407 of these were slight, 320 were serious and 58 were fatal.

The dangerous mixture of commuters, farm traffic and heavy goods vehicles makes it imperative we dual and improve the A5.

This month, in Llangollen, I met the cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure for the Welsh Assembly, Ken Skates AM, to discuss my campaigns on road and rail.

It was a very constructive meeting as we are in agreement regarding dualling and improving the A5, building an A483 Pant to Llanymynech bypass in addition to deciding the criteria for the rail franchises up for tender.

We need cross-party and cross-border support and so I am delighted Ken Skates agrees with me going forward.

It is crucial to get cross-party support on building an A483 bypass as it is a Welsh strategic road which requires some funding from the Labour-held Welsh Assembly.

Ken Skates, the minister responsible for the Wales and border rail franchise, agreed with me that that bidders should offer to provide a regular service every 30 minutes from Shrewsbury to Birmingham and Shrewsbury to Manchester Airport.

We want new, clean, faster, quieter, larger and more reliable trains. Neighbouring MPs and I are similarly in agreement.

Finally, Ken Skates and I will continue to work with the secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, to make sure he includes requirements for bidders for the InterCity West Coast franchise to extend the current Shrewsbury-London service on to Gobowen, Wrexham and Chester.

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