Sheffield could be in line for major road and rail improvements in the next decade - potentially cutting journey times to Manchester and Leeds to 40 minutes, Nick Clegg has said.
Hundreds of millions of pounds of Government cash is due to be committed to northern road and rail schemes in next month’s Autumn Statement from chancellor George Osborne.
Mr Clegg said he hopes much of this money can be directed towards Sheffield’s transport network.
He wants to see cross-Pennine rail links to be electrified by 2025 - increasing capacity and cutting journey times to 40 minutes to Manchester and Leeds. The Liberal Democrat leader also wants funding to be guaranteed for a programme of improvements on the Woodhead Pass road between Sheffield and Manchester.
Mr Clegg, who is hosting the Northern Futures event in Leeds today to discuss ideas on improving the north’s economy, is also calling for money to spend on replacing ‘decrepit trains’ currently used on many northern rail routes.
He said: “I am pushing for a huge programme of transport improvements in the North to begin immediately.
“London and South East have 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 from the North 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. We need to get this started as soon as possible. I want a fully upgraded and electrified network between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield by 2025.
“We also need to improve commuter services on lines that are not electrified. I want significant improvement – government money to buy better rolling stock to improve commuter routes in the north – also by 2025.
“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.”