'Transport for North' should get £15bn, says think tank
The government should invest £15bn in a Transport for London-style body for the north of England to revitalise transport links, a think tank has said.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the proposed body would help make George Osborne's vision of a "northern powerhouse" a reality.
It has urged the chancellor to include the investment in his 18 March budget.
It said devolving transport powers and budget to the North would "transform" the region's prospects.
'Dated and lacking'
The IPPR said the proposed organisation, called Transport for the North (TfN), would take responsibility for rail, road, sea and air transport and decide priorities for infrastructure investment, franchising and ticketing.
It said the body would be built out of the existing Transport for the North alliance set up last year by the government.
Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: "Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the northern powerhouse.
"Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region's growth prospects and rebalance the economy."
Under its 10-year blueprint for TfN, the IPPR report recommends the appointment of a transport commissioner for the North, a move towards a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system and improvements to rolling stock and stations, including plans to "do away with outdated Pacer trains".
A spokesperson for the Treasury said: "Rebalancing the economy and creating a northern powerhouse of jobs, investment and prosperity is a key part of our long term economic plan.
"We have made great strides and already created Transport for the North to speak with one voice to government on the big decisions to benefit the entire region.
"It is crucial we work together to deliver a world-class transport network for the North that reduces journey times, increases capacity and connectivity and enables growth and that's why we will be setting out our strategy for transport in the North in the next few weeks."