A BLUEPRINT to how transport should be improved in Herefordshire and the wider Marches region has been revealed.

The plan includes changes to roads and the public transport network, including new stations between Hereford and Abergavenny.

It is hoped that the proposals will cut journey times between Hereford and Cardiff to under an hour, with most journeys currently between one hour and one hour and 10 minutes.

New stations are mooted for Rotherwas and Pontrilas.


The blueprint has been tabled by Midlands Connect, the body which researches, develops and champions long-term transport projects which will provide the biggest possible economic, social and environmental benefits for the Midlands and the rest of the UK.

The Marches Road and Rail blueprint has been unveiled at a virtual conference, a bid which is hoped will "unlock the full economic potential of the Marches and Mid and West Wales".

The plans have been created in conjunction with the Welsh Government, and Midlands Connect also has a series of road improvement schemes that it is prioritising within the region.

For the Chester to Shrewsbury rail Line (which stops at Wrexham, Ruabon, Chirk & Gobowen) Midlands Connect is proposing:

  • Secure faster and a higher frequency of trains, with greater direct connectivity between Telford and Chester
  • Reviews of accessibility to train stations, identifying any barriers people may have in using them for the “first and last mile” of their journey.

For the Welsh Marches rail line (stopping at Yorton, Wem, Prees, Whitchurch, Wrenbury, Yorton, Wem, Prees, Whitchurch, Wrenbury) Midlands Connect is proposing:

  • Cut 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
  • Additional stations between Hereford and Abergavenny to give direct rail access to those living in rural communities along the Herefordshire/Monmouthshire border.

On the Heart of Wales Line (which stops at Shrewsbury, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Broome, Hopton Heath, Bucknell and Knighton) Midlands Connect is proposing:

  • Secure faster and a higher frequency of trains, also enhancing the effectiveness and comfort of the interchange at Shrewsbury
  • Integrating bus and rail for rural communities along the line.

On the Cambrian line (From Shrewsbury to Welshpool, Caersws and on the West Wales ending at Aberystwyth or Pwllheli) Midlands Connect is proposing:

  • Cut journey times and maintain direct services to Birmingham, optimising connections at Shrewsbury.

Midlands Connect also proposes the government support upgrades on the Birmingham to Shrewsbury rail line as the "gateway" to the Marches and Mid and West Wales.

After the Union Connectivity Review, in August 2022 it submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) to improve journey times on the corridor by speeding up the line to 90mph from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton.


Midlands Connect also recommends road upgrades for the A5 not just to improve local safety, but to enhance the longer distance role played by the A5 in connecting England to Holyhead and beyond.

It also suggests delivery of the Pant to Llanymynech bypass as soon as possible as well as the A49 corridor given its role in moving people and freight in and out of Wales.

Midlands Connect is taking this blueprint to government to ask for funding, specifically for the rail schemes as part of the Union Connectivity Review, in conjunction with the Welsh Government. Funding was set aside to progress key projects in the report, released in November 2021.

Public transport improvements are 'vital'

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.

“It’s also crucial to improve safety in the villages of Llanymnech and Pant and Llynclys by building a bypass along the Welsh border, so I’m pleased that Midlands Connect’s proposals reflect all of these key priorities.

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

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Maria Machancoses, chief executive 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.”

Sonia Roberts, chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, 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.”

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