Manchester commuters will have express train services by 2025 as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promises to ‘end the misery of overcrowding’.
Bringing together ideas ‘made in the North’, Clegg has launched a project that aims to help Northern cities grow and compete globally.
Speaking at the Northern Futures Summit in Leeds today, the Liberal Democrat Leader has vowed to begin a ‘huge programme of transport improvements’.
“The North needs improved transport now – ancient rolling stock and lines that have not been upgraded in 30 years are not fit for a 21st century metropolis,” he said.
“Decrepit trains would not be deemed acceptable on London commuter lines, and they are not acceptable in the North.
“I want a fully upgraded and electrified network between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield by 2025,” he added.
The Deputy Prime Minister wants to see electrified cross-Pennine links between Liverpool and Manchester on one side and Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull on the other.
These plans will reduce journey times between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield to 40 minutes at most.
Clegg also wants to extend the M62 between Manchester and Leeds to eight lanes using the ‘smart’ motorway model as well as improving the Woodhead Pass between Manchester and Sheffield.
The Sheffield Hallam MP feels that these improvements are essential as the North has fallen drastically behind London and the South East.
“The perfectly reasonable requests I have been hearing from the North are basics that are needed if we are to create a true economic hub in the North of England,” he added.
“London and South East has had billions of transport investment – our great northern cities have seen improvements in recent years, but I want more.
“This is not just about rail, 64% of journeys in the North are by car – we need to build on the announcements already made to improve road links.”
As the most senior member of the cabinet representing the North, Clegg has taken on a leading role in demanding improvements.
He stressed the importance of beginning the process as soon as possible and is currently negotiating government funding ahead of the Autumn Statement.
“From next year, up to £10m could be put in place for there to be a clear strategy for tourism in the North,” added Clegg.
“A strong Northern future relies on putting the North back on the map – a top tourist destination.
“It’s absurd that our great North is missing out on visitors when it boasts such stunning countryside, history and culture.”
Image courtesy of the Alex Folkes/Fishnik Photography, with thanks