One mum's two hour train journey to take son for specialised treatment 38 miles away

Watch ITV News North of England reporter Hannah Miller's report on the government's "levelling up" and investment in railways

Transport spending across the north of England has remained broadly flat for the past five years despite the Treasury’s pledge to invest, according to new analysis of government spending shared with ITV News.

In 2019/20, the government spent an average of £236 per head on transport infrastructure in the North East, North West and Yorkshire, down from £242 per head four years earlier.

At £174 per head, spending in Yorkshire is the lowest in the UK, with the East Midlands getting £185 per person.

That compares to £587 for each person living in London.

Samantha Loughrey travels from Halifax to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for her son Evan’s specialist medical treatment, a journey of around 38 miles door-to-door that takes them more than two hours one way. She says the journey is hugely "stressful" and wishes there was a direct service which would make the trip considerably less of strain.

"I wish there was a train that went straight through. If there was a train that went straight through, it wouldn't be as long and as difficult," she tells ITV News.

"He doesn't like waiting, ever. He doesn't like waiting about. So if a train gets delayed, he gets anxious."

The analysis comes as the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, prepares to publish the Comprehensive Spending Review next week, with the long-delayed Integrated Rail Plan also anticipated imminently.

It will set out the development of major projects such as High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Midlands Engine, amid widespread speculation that the 'eastern leg’ of HS2, connecting Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds, will be paused or scrapped.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly committed to building a new Northern Powerhouse Rail line between Manchester and Leeds, but there has been no timeframe, nor a guarantee of a stop at Bradford, as requested on the preferred route put forward by leaders in the North of England.

"We had a fantastic manager who worked here, who lives in Manchester. Eventually we lost him because of the commute, that would take him two hours in the morning. If we had Northern Powerhouse Rail, it would have taken 22 minutes" - Mandy Ridyard from Bradford business Produmax says it would make a massive difference to to the talent that the city would attract.

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has told ITV News that choosing not to get on with both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail projects in full would "destroy" the government’s supposed commitment to levelling up.

He said both projects would make a "radical difference to life chances in the North," adding that Bradford must be part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail line.

"The prize is huge, if you take the northern cities and treat them as a single economic entity it will be as big an economic powerhouse as London."

A Government spokesperson said: “Levelling up is about spreading opportunity, boosting living standards and improving public services, which is why we’re investing a record £100bn in infrastructure projects this year.

“The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the North and Midlands need and deserve.”