Nick Clegg has set out plans to invest in road and rail to dramatically cut journey times between Leeds and its northern neighbours in the next decade.
The Deputy Prime Minister is pressing for the electrification and upgrade of rail lines and the scrapping of outdated diesel pacer trains - branded ‘buses on rails’ by commuters - to be included in Chancellor George Osborne’s Government spending plans announced next month.
Mr Clegg wants the major cities of the North connected by electrified rail and maximum journey times between Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester cut to 40 minutes by 2025.
He also wants to see the M62 become an eight-lane motorway all the way between Leeds and Manchester through technology that allows the hard shoulder to be used at busy times.
Mr Clegg said: “The North needs improved transport now. The roads and railway lines connecting our great northern cities have seen improvements in recent years, but I want more.”
Mr Clegg made the pledge ahead of a summit he is hosting in Leeds today as part of his Northern Futures initiative which aims to generate ideas on how to turn the North into a region that can compete globally.
The major parties have been setting out their competing visions for the North economy in recent months with improved transport links a common theme.
Last week, the Prime Minister was in Leeds to announce the Government’s intention to press ahead with a high speed rail link across the pennines dubbed HS3.
Mr Clegg has previously expressed scepticism about whether the idea is affordable and is likely to suggest his own proposals are more realistic and would deliver benefits quicker.
Mary Creagh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary and the MP for Wakefield, said: “You can’t trust Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems’ empty promises to the North given his record of failure in Government.
“Transport infrastructure across the North desperately needs improving and a Labour Government would leave bidders for the Northern franchise in no doubt that we want to see the back of Pacer trains, whose retirement is long overdue.”