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Collectively we in the WBRUA do have a great affection for our line and like to encourage people to use it as much as possible. However, we do have to be honest and admit that the service is, at best, basic. It is "planned" - if that is the right word - with little regard to where the potential, as opposed to existing, markets lie.
The powers-that-be have a full-scale working model - traffic flow on the parallel road network - that shows them where they should running their trains and it is certainly not only between Wrexham and the middle of Bidston Moss. There should be an urgency bordering on desperation to get trains running through to Liverpool somehow, and not just from destinations on the present day Borderlands Line.
Just upriver from our central interchange station at Shotton, Queensferry has been a by-word for traffic congestion for about half a century now. Wouldn't you think that this would give the rail planners just a little bit of a clue about the need to get trains running directly through from Liverpool to the North Wales Coast as quickly as possible? No, all that happens is that they build yet another road bridge over the Dee while our former branch from Shotton (High Level) to Connah's Quay Wharf lies derelict...
Just five miles away from our line is Chester, probably the principal destination for motorists who live anywhere between Heswall and Caergwrle inclusive. In fact, the influence of Chester permeates through our entire residential catchment, most of which has a "CH" postcode these days. Until 1968, "our" trains ran through to the city's central station at Northgate, which would probably never have closed had the rest of the Dee Marsh railways been expected to survive. (Freight traffic kept it open in the end and at least we can fairly safely claim that the threat of total closure has gone.)
Believe it or not, all but the southernmost tip of the Chester Northgate railway land remained vacant until the late 1980's, and this included the greater proportion of the sites of the passenger station and the (even larger) goods station which adjoined it, directly over Chester's main line where low level platforms could also have been built.
Not any more.
Well perhaps that is not quite true. While the split-level station can still be built (with the spacious pedestrian subway under the "fountains" roundabout forming one of its entrances and the Northgate long-stay car park serving another), the integrity of our corridor through to the city centre has been soundly destroyed by the construction of expensive new housing. Ironically, much of the demand for city centre living has been created by former commuters who are no longer willing to tolerate the seemingly interminable journey to work by car...
Still, the possibility of restoring at least an approximation of the old New Brighton-Chester service is being raised by very serious discussions about constructing a new freight chord at Shotton. Unfortunately the passenger possibilities are not being included in these calculations; this is great pity because if the primary justification for any scheme proves marginally insufficient, the presence of a secondary function could tip the balance in favour of feasibility. In this circumstance it is the secondary consideration, not the primary one, which can be truly described as "vital".
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|The Wrexham-Bidston Railway|
This under-developed urban railway and regional transport artery runs over 27 miles between its southern terminus at Wrexham Central station and Bidston in the north where connection is provided into the Merseyrail electric service to central Birkenhead and Liverpool. The current train service is hourly in each direction between Wrexham and Bidston.
Wrexham has two stations on the line. The new station at Wrexham Central is part of the new Island Green retail area and provides a convenient gateway to the shopping, leisure and commercial centres of the town. At Wrexham General station, connection is available with the Chester-Shrewsbury-Birmingham train services.
After Wrexham General the trains call at Gwersyllt, Cefn-y-Bedd, Caergwrle, Hope, Penyffordd and Hawarden. These stations are all conveniently located in the local communities served by the railway. After Hawarden comes Shotton, where connections are provided with the North Wales Coast rail services. Westbound trains run to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead (for ferries to Ireland). Eastbound rail services run to Chester, Crewe, Manchester and the rest of the national rail network.
From Shotton, the line travels through the Wirral Peninsula stations at Hawarden Bridge, Neston, Heswall and Upton to Bidston, the latter two formerly lying on the western side of the county borough of Birkenhead.
At Bidston, connection is made into the Merseyrail electric service between West Kirby, Birkenhead and Liverpool. Within 75 minutes of leaving Wrexham Central, you are in Liverpool City Centre.
Fares on the line are very reasonable and compare very favourably with other forms of transport.
In the next few years we hope to see much needed unvestment in station facilities including real time train service information. Future plans include electrification from Bidston to a new station at Woodchurch Road, Birkenhead (between Upton and Heswall).
For the present and the near future, we will continue to campaign for continuous improvement of rail services between Bidston, Wrexham and beyond in both directions. At the very least, it has ALWAYS been WBRUA policy that the northern terminus of the present service should revert to Birkenhead North, hence the name of the Association.
...is a voluntary organisation whose aims are the protection, promotion and development of the Wrexham to Bidston railway line. To do this we have established a working dialogue with the Train Operating Company (TOC), Network Rail and the local authorities along the line.
PROTECTION: we try to ensure that the current timetable is maintained and that the best possible connections are available with other services at Bidston, Shotton and Wrexham General. We also challenge any local planning application that we feel is a threat to the line.
PROMOTION: we assist in advertising the train service and distribute timetables to libraries etc.
DEVELOPMENT: we talk to the train operator, Network Rail and the local authorities about ways to upgrade station and train facilities to the standard expected in the 21st Century.
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