IPPR urges government to prioritise HS3 link
A high-speed rail link between major northern cities should take priority over the HS2 line between London and the Midlands, a think tank has said.
The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) said HS3, between Leeds and Manchester, would cut journey times and help drive economic growth.
The HS2 link between London and Birmingham has been dogged by protests over its planned route.
The government said it had committed £13bn in northern transport funding.
The IPPR said the north suffered from under-developed road and rail links and a "North First" policy was needed.
The proposed HS3 line, approved in March's budget, has a projected travel time of just 30 minutes between Leeds and Manchester, with potential extensions to Liverpool and Hull.
Tom Kibasi, from the IPPR, said: "The time it takes to travel, on hugely dated infrastructure, between our great regional cities is a national disgrace - this is just not what happens in Germany, Japan or France.
"Given the Brexit result, the north of England must urgently see growing prosperity.
"A proper east-west crossing would boost northern and UK growth, and must now take priority above all other major transport projects, including Crossrail 2 and HS2."
The IPPR said prioritising HS3 would also address the imbalance in spending between London and the north of England.
It said the government planned, over the next five years, to spend £304 per inhabitant in the North East, £289 per inhabitant in the North West and £247 per head in Yorkshire and the Humber.
In London the figure rises to £1,869 per head.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the government had already committed £60m to preparatory work on the HS3 line and was considering options for a trans-Pennine road tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield.
He added: "Transport for the North are working to develop a Northern Transport Strategy and we are already making the biggest investment in transport infrastructure in generations."