New Prime Minister Boris Johnson vows to build new Manchester to Leeds rail line
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pledging to fund a new railroute between Manchester and Leeds in a bid to improve transport links in the North.
Mr Johnson will give his backing to the trans-Pennine transport link which is intended to help "turbo charge" regional growth during a speech in Manchester on Saturday.
"And today I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.
"It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they want - but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn."
Downing Street said that detailed plans regarding the proposed Manchester to Leeds railroute will be published in the autumn, following a review into HS2.
The trans-Pennine route is expected to cut journey times and provide additional capacity for people across the region.
Mr Johnson will use the speech to state he is committed to "rebalance power, growth and productivity across the UK".
The PM will also use the address to pledge to "improve the unglamorous local services which people use every day", such as buses, saying it is about "services within cities, not just services between cities".
Mr Johnson is expected to say: "I want to help local leaders bring their local services in all our towns and cities up to the standards of the best.
"And I want that to start now, with improvements that can happen in the short term, not just big engineering schemes that will take years."
Labour's shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "This project has been announced time and time again by the Conservatives.
"With Boris Johnson's staggering failure to build a bridge across the Thames and an estuary airport I'm not confident he'll be able to deliver better train services between Leeds and Manchester.
"What we really need is Labour's Crossrail for the North, from Liverpool to Hull and up to the North East to unleash the economic potential of the region.
"Just upgrading the rail between Leeds and Manchester - the same distance as the Central line on the London Underground - won't achieve that."
Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison said: "This is a seminal moment for the north - the entire Northern Powerhouse concept is all about connecting the cities and towns of the North to boost productivity.
"Northern Powerhouse Partnership has been making a strong case for rebalancing our economy and it is heartening to see the first major policy announcement by the new Prime Minister is to benefit the north - matching the commitment of businesses already investing here."
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: "Northern Powerhouse Rail is key to our vision for a modern, reliable transport network that delivers faster journey times, additional capacity and greater reliability and I hope the Government will now work with us to accelerate delivery of this project."