Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said creating a so-called Northern Powerhouse is a top priority and pledged ‘not to waste a moment’ on working with regional leaders to make it happen.
The minister said the Government would invest £13m in transforming northern transport this Parliament - connecting the region so it can compete as a single economy - and construction on the HS2 high speed rail link would begin in 2017.
Work will continue to look at ways of using the HS2 line to introduce faster regional services and at the case for speeding up construction of the Sheffield to Leeds section of the line.
Mr McLoughlin, who also spoke of the concept of building a road tunnel under the Peak District, said: “This is the best opportunity in well over a century to level the playing field between north and south. Not by dragging London down, but by firing up the rest of the country - the east and west midlands and the new Northern Powerhouse - with transport connections that match the very best in Europe.”
Mr McLoughlin said boosting growth in the north was a key part of the Conservative Government’s long-term economic plan.
A new chairman for body Transport for the North is also to be unveiled by the autumn.
Meanwhile, consultation on Network Rail plans to speed up travel between Manchester and Sheffield is taking place.
The plans include three fast trains an hour, rather than two, between the cities and improving sections of railway in the Hope Valley close to Dore and Totley station.
Plans are on display at Abbeydale Sports Centre tonight from 5.30pm to 8pm and tomorrow afternoon from 3pm to 6pm.
They are also are The George Hotel in Hathersage on Wednesday June 3, from 5.30pm to 8pm, and Thursday June 4 from 3pm to 6pm.
On Friday and Saturday they will be at the Moore Memorial Hall in Bamford.