Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled multi-billion pound plans to improve key rail and road transport networks in the north of England.
The new Trans North long-term rail project aims to reduce train travel times by building high-speed track on routes between key northern cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull.
If the proposals go ahead, travel times to on routes such as Liverpool-Manchester could be cut to 20 minutes at the estimated cost of £8bn to £13bn, while Manchester to Sheffield and Leeds could both be reduced to 30 minutes (costing £12bn to £19bn) , while journeys between Leeds and Newcastle could come down to 50 minutes (costing £8.5bn to £14bn).
The coalition government has also announced that it wants to bring the HS2 rail service to northern England “sooner than planned” by bringing forward the high-speed link to Crewe by six years to 2027 instead of the previously proposed date of 2033.
The building of the high-speed track between Leeds and Sheffield may also be “accelerated” to allow it to be used by faster regional train services.
The plans were revealed as part of the publication of the Northern Transport Strategy report by Transport for the North (TFN) group set up by the government.
The report has been produced to look at how the region’s transport infrastructure can be upgraded including roads, rail, freight, airports and use of smart ticketing technology.
Osborne said: “Connecting up the great cities of the north is at the heart of our plan to build a northern powerhouse.
“From backing high-speed rail to introducing simpler fares right across the north, our ambitious plans for transport means we will deliver a truly national recovery where every part of the country will share in Britain’s prosperity.”
Other plans in the report include introducing new smart travel cards – similar to London’s Oyster transport cards – and adding new east-west road connections across the north such as a road tunnel under the Peak District.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the report “transforms the way government looks at transport solutions for the north”.
“The proposals announced today will reduce journey times while increasing capacity and connectivity, enabling growth,” he said.
“We are planning for transport and growth in a new joined-up way. Today we set out a comprehensive strategy for the northern economy which will help the north pool its strengths."