I convened the first meeting of the new Chester Rail Users Group last week, at the Town Crier. I want to bring together people from Chester who use the trains and want to help make a better service. Hopefully the group will grow and develop on its own independently of the MP’s office.
Transport issues remain so important to Chester. At the Business Park, I am still getting complaints that the new Post House roundabout is causing delays and I’m hoping we will have an explanation for this soon. We can’t have our major employers losing hours of working time each week.
With neighbouring MPs Justin Madders and Graham Evans we are working to get a solution to the constant accidents and delays on the M56. Every time it grinds to a halt, Chester jams too. Currently the government won’t look at the M56 before 2020, but Graham, Justin and I will keep shouting to bring that forward.
I’ve also asked for CCTV coverage on the stretch of motorway by Frodsham, Helsby and Sutton Weaver. It’s a short term solution but currently, if there is a problem, the police or Highways England must send a unit down to assess it in person, before they can start to manage it. Cameras will make it that little bit quicker to deal with any issues.
The government recently announced the creation of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). Labour supports it – it was originally a Labour idea. So on a cross-party basis, the NIC will decide what the big national infrastructure needs of the nation are.
I have made a bid for the Western Relief Road, with its new bridge across the Dee. The NIC is the perfect vehicle for this project: no cross border wrangling, as it is decided at national level, better resilience in the regional road network, and of course it would take traffic off the two bridges in town – cars wouldn’t need to come into Chester to cross the river.
I have also called for the electrification of the lines to Crewe and along the coast to Holyhead. That would give us more capacity on the railways. It’s a big job: to put electric wires up, we would need to raise the Hoole Road bridge by the station. But that would be worth it in the long run.
Roads, railways, infrastructure. They work best when you don’t notice them and are able to just get on with your life. When they’re not working you tear your hair out. This is our chance to get them right for the 21st century.
The next rail users group is at the Town Crier on the 22nd April at 6pm. Hope to see you there.