1. ITV Report

Clegg calls for cash to be spent now on northern transport

Nick Clegg Photo: PA

The Deputy Prime Minister says commuters in our region are being forced to use 'decrepit' trains that would be deemed unacceptable in the south.

Nick Clegg is calling on the Chancellor to announce funding to pay for immediate improvements. Specifically to cut journey times between Manchester and Leeds to 40 minutes in the next 10 years as well as end overcrowding.

Northern cities still lacked some "basic" transport infrastructure while billions were spent on projects in London and the South East, he said ahead of a gathering in Leeds to discuss the region's priorities.

Mr Clegg wanted to see "a fully upgraded and electrified network between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield by 2025" and improved rolling stock on non-electrified commuter lines by 2025.

By the same date, the whole of the rest of the M62 should be made into an eight-lane motorway by using the hard shoulder as a traffic lane and improvements made to the Woodhead Pass between Manchester and Sheffield, he said.

Mr Clegg said: "Ancient rolling stock and lines that have not been upgraded in 30 years are not fit for a 21st century metropolis.

"Decrepit trains such as the Pacers, which are literally ancient buses on rails, are not a fair way for people in the North to get to and from work. They would not be deemed acceptable on London commuter lines, and they are not acceptable in the North.

He went on: "London and the South East has had billions of transport investment over recent years from HS1 to Crossrail to the Northern Line extension. The perfectly reasonable requests I have been hearing... are basics that are needed if we are to create a true economic hub in the north of England.

"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. Much more.

"As we negotiate over what gets government funding in the Autumn Statement, one of my key priorities will be to change that. We need to get this started as soon as possible.

The upgrades are hoped to ensure Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are no more than 40 minutes apart by train and ease overcrowding on routes where a third of passengers have to stand during their commute.