Northern cities unveil £15bn transport blueprint

Chancellor George Osborne will be challenged to back a £15 billion plan to revolutionise transport across the North today (Tuesday).

Leeds and Sheffield will join other major cities to unveil the blueprint which could more than double the number of commuters the transport system can cope with and cut some rail journey times by half.

The ‘One North’ report includes proposals for a 125 mph transpennine rail link that would reduce rail journey times between Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester to 30 minutes alongside further electrification and new trains for the existing rail network.

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Building the planned HS2 high speed rail line from the North and the South simultaneously and improving connections between cities that will be served directly by the line and other areas are among the other main recommendations.

The 15-year investment plan also calls for the creation of new freight and logistics terminals as well as improved access to ports and spending on “managed motorways”.

One North has been put together by Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle with support from Hull, Bradford, Wakefield and York.

It is due to be launched at an event this morning attended by Mr Osborne who last month said improved connections between towns and cities were needed to turn the North into a single economic “powerhouse” that can compete on the global stage.

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Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said: “Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.

“This report demonstrates once again that only through tackling our out-dated transport system will the North be able to fulfil its true economic potential, benefiting our own local communities and the country as a whole.

“HS2, supported by strong regional transport networks, has the potential to bring transformational regeneration and investment to many of our cities and city regions.

“Building from the North would increase the pace of that change while at the same time delivering much needed jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.”

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The One North plan is the latest contribution to the debate on growing the economy of the North which has risen rapidly up the political agenda in recent weeks with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband following Mr Osborne in setting out their visions.

Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore said: “Transforming the connections between our great Northern cities is vital if we are to make the most of our unlocked economic potential.

“For years our transport network has been far too slow and inferior compared to London and the south east.

“This report outlines the steps we need to put this right but we need the tools to make this happen.”