Chancellor Backs £15bn Northern Transport Plan
George Osborne has backed a £15bn plan to create a "northern global powerhouse" which will rebalance the country's economy.
The vision to connect five cities will see improvements in transport across the north of England, including a 125mph transpennine rail link dubbed "HS3" or the "Crossrail of the North".
The Chancellor was presented with the One North plan, drawn up by the cities of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle upon Tyne, in Manchester where he was speaking.
Mr Osborne said: "Of course £15bn is a lot of money - it's about the size of the Crossrail project in London.
"It's a project over a number of years, out to 2030. We have got a £100bn capital budget to the end of the decade.
"I think this kind of proposal is affordable."
He added: "I'm prepared to roll up my sleeves and get it done, so let's get on with it."
The plan could mean up to 150% additional capacity on roads and as much as 55% quicker journey times on a faster, more frequent interconnected rail network.
The One North plan looks ahead to the next 15 years.
Speaking about the proposals to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield, said: "Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.
"This report demonstrates once again that only through tackling our out-dated transport system will the North be able to fulfil its true economic potential, benefiting our own local communities and the country as a whole."
Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Labour Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the Government could not forget the North if it was serious about rebalancing the economy.
He said: "When we talk about economic powerhouses, Manchester and Liverpool, if you just take those two cities in the North together, of course we are one economic powerhouse, it is just we haven't got the connectivity."
Mr Osborne told the programme: "If the North of England's GDP grew at the rate of the average GDP of the UK, we would add over £50bn to our economy to 2030. That is a massive benefit to the people living in the north of England, over £1,600 per person but is also of huge benefit to our country."
The North will play a significant part come the 2015 General Election as both Labour and UKIP could deliver a significant blow in the region so Mr Osborne will be keen to be seen to be backing development.
Shadow Treasury minister Shabana Mahmood said: "We welcome this report and the city regions of the north of England working together to strategically plan to deliver the growth and jobs we need.
"But only Labour will properly back our city and county regions with ambitious plans to devolve more funding and economic power to them."