A MAJOR upgrade of rail services that will benefit the Whitchurch area have been revealed today (Friday, February 3).

Midlands Connect is proposing to cut journey times along part of the Welsh Marches rail line, as well as integrating the cross-border bus network, and increasing the number of the stations.

Although most of the work would be centred around the Hereford to Abergavenny region, the transport body says its 'Marches Road and Rail blueprint’ will benefit areas further along the line including Whitchurch, Wem, Prees and Wrenbury.

Maria Machancoses, CEO of Midlands Connect said: “This document outlines a series of road and rail projects that we believe could unlock the full economic potential of the Marches and Mid and West Wales.

“Midlands Connect has been working closely with the Welsh Government to create a plan that we will take to government in Westminster.

“All these improvements would help bind the union together but help Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin get the rail and road improvements they need.”

As part of the proposals for the Welsh Marches line there would be a cut to journey times from Hereford to Cardiff to under 60 minutes, encouraging people onto the train and away from their vehicles; cross-border integration of the bus network - to enable residents in Herefordshire to access rail at Abergavenny, which is closer than Hereford; and additional stations between Hereford and Abergavenny to give direct rail access to those living in rural communities along the Herefordshire/Monmouthshire border.

With regards to roads, Midlands Connect is calling on upgrades to the A49 corridor.


Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire, said: “Communities across the Midlands and Wales are being held back by a lack of public transport, particularly in rural areas like North Shropshire.

“It’s vital that rail and bus routes are expanded, integrated and made accessible so that everyone can reach the jobs and services they need wherever they happen to live."

She added: “The case for connecting the region is clear. The Government must now build on these proposals and implement them as soon as possible.”

The plans, which have been created in conjunction with the Welsh Government, are due to go before the UK Government to ask for funding of the rail schemes as part of the Union Connectivity Review, after funding was set aside in November 2021 for key projects.

Chairwoman of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, Sonia Roberts welcomed the proposals and hopes they will help businesses.

She said: "An efficient, effective and reliable transport network is absolutely essential if the Marches is to fully realise its potential.

"It is vital that we work with partners on both sides of the border to ensure that our transport network meets the needs of business, wherever in the region it is based."