Osborne urged to back transport upgrade plan

Transport Andrew Jones at Leeds station
Transport Andrew Jones at Leeds station
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NEW rail lines are likely to be needed to connect Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester as part of ambitious plans to unlock Yorkshire’s economic potential, according to a new report.

Work by Transport for the North (TfN) suggests new lines or major upgrades will be needed to cut journey times between the three cities to 30 minutes.

Its latest report also sets out plans to roll-out ‘smart ticketing’ so that passengers can “simply turn up and go and get value for money” on public transport.

Branded ‘Smart North’, TfN wants to develop schemes that allow passengers to use their mobile phone or credit card to use public transport across the North with a maximum charge for daily and weekly use.

TfN was originally set up by councils to lead the transformation of transport across northern England before becoming an official body advising the Government.

Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants major improvements to transport as part of his ‘northern powerhouse plan’.

He is now under pressure to back specific schemes and set out a timetable for their delivery.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “While we welcome this report and the work of Transport for the North so far, it’s imperative that major government investment in transport infrastructure in Yorkshire is delivered as soon as possible.

“Reducing journey times and simplifying the travel experience through innovations like smart ticketing is essential to the future economic development of the region.

“However the fact remains that far more government money is spent on transport infrastructure in London and the south east compared to Yorkshire. This has to be addressed if the north is to really fulfil its true economic potential.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones, the Harrogate MP, insisted the Government was already improving transport in Yorkshire through investment in road and rail upgrades and the launch of new rail franchises next month.

He said: “We know we need transport investment, we know that it is a key ingredient of the ‘northern powerhouse’, we know we’ve underinvested in our country for decades and we are breaking out of that.”

The Budget will be announced on March 16.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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