Photo: E Pollock/Wikimedia Commons

Transport for Wales Rail currently operates an hourly service between Wrexham and Bidston using Class 150 DMUs.

UK: Capacity has been allocated to enable an increase in passenger services between Wrexham and Bidston, but local stakeholders say the compromise required shows the need for urgent investment in the route.

TfW Rail currently operates an hourly passenger service, while GBRf serves Hanson Cement’s Padeswood works. TfW Rail wanted to increase services to half-hourly, but Network Rail’s initial analysis showed that only one of the TfW Rail and GBRf applications could be fully accommodated, and so it rejected both and the operators asked Office of Rail & Road to make a decision.

ORR decided that TfW Rail can run 2 trains/h for most of the day, while the freight trains can continue with greater certainty on a firm contractual basis.

The decision was welcomed by the Growth Track 360 partnership of stakeholders in North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West & Chester, which told Rail Business UK that the additional passenger services would increase the value of the Borderlands Line for accessing work, services and leisure facilities and boost the local economy.

However, the gap in passenger services to enable freight movements would be in the the morning and evening peaks, which is ‘a potential, long-term drawback’, while the freight operator has aspirations to increase services to support modal shift.

As such, Growth Track 360 said the planned services should be a short-term compromise pending ‘much needed’ investment to increase capacity, including an ‘urgent upgrade’ to freight sidings which has been proposed in bid to the Levelling Up fund and would enable TfW Rail to provide a half-hourly service all day.