A £70bn plan to transform transport links across the north of England has been unveiled.
Transports chiefs claim the 30-year road and rail upgrade scheme will boost the economy by £100bn and “leave a legacy for future generations” creating 850,000 jobs.
Transport for the North (TfN) announced the proposals, which they say will result in 1.3 million people living within an hour’s train journey from Manchester airport and at least four major northern cities.
The report has identified seven “corridors” where investment should be focused including the creation of a new rail network, called Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Proposed developments to train services include:
• A new line between Liverpool and the HS2 Manchester spur via Warrington.
• A new line between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford.
• Upgrading the line between Leeds and Hull.
• Upgrading the Sheffield to Hull line.
• Upgrading the the Hope Valley line between Sheffield and Manchester.
TfN said the new line between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly would reduce journey times from 50 to 28 minutes, while the new Leeds-Manchester line would bring travel time down from 49 to 30 minutes. Plans to make travel in the north ticketless by 2022 are also in the pipeline with a trial completed in Malton and Scarborough in December last year.
On the roads, plans include links between Sheffield and Manchester, via a trans-Pennine Tunnel beneath the A628 Woodhead Pass, and the A66 between Scotch Corner and Penrith.
Critics of the proposals have previously raised questions over funding and investment. During a meeting to discuss the proposals last year the former deputy prime minister John Prescott stormed out.
At the time Lord Prescott told the BBC: “It was promised to have statutory powers. Now we know, and it’s been confirmed by government, it will have no powers.
“It can talk to the Treasury along with the strategic bodies but it can’t make a decision and it doesn’t get any money. It’s a bloody fraud.”
TfN, a statutory body, was set up to coordinate transport in the north of England and advise the government on transport strategy but it does not have the ability to generate its own income.
Barry White, the chief executive at TfN, said: “For the people of the north, this will mean more choice over where they live and work, access to higher quality jobs and better connections to friends and families. It will mean our businesses have more opportunity to collaborate, trade and grow in a sustainable way.
“This final plan will be a statutory document written by the north, for the north, and will be our blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations.”
This comes as rail passenger satisfaction has fallen to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to the official national survey.
Transport Focus, the passenger watchdog that conducts the biannual survey, said the results showed the need for fundamental change in rail services as overall satisfaction with journeys fell to 79%, meaning more than one in five passengers were not satisfied.
In a year marked by cancellations and chaos after the introduction of new timetables, as well as numerous strikes, passenger satisfaction declined significantly on seven operators including Great Northern, Northern and TransPennine Express.