Boris Johnson vows to 'turbo-charge' the North as he backs Leeds-Manchester rail link
Boris Johnson has unveiled plans to overhaul the Leeds-Manchester rail link in a bid to "turbo-charge" the economic fortunes of the North of England.
In a speech in Manchester on Saturday, the new Prime Minister will give his backing to a new trans-Pennine route between the city and Leeds.
And he will vow to bring in a raft of new inter-city rail routes in a move Downing Street said would bring opportunities to "every corner of the UK".
But Labour said the Leeds-Manchester link had been "announced time and time again by the Conservatives".
Mr Johnson use the speech to signal his backing for the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail Project, which will link up Northern cities from Liverpool to Hull - and will say detailed plans on the Leeds to Manchester link will be unveiled later this year.
The Prime Minister is expected to say: "I want to be the prime minister who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London.
“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.”
But 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."
And the Labour frontbencher added: "Just upgrading the rail between Leeds and Manchester - the same distance as the Central line on the London Underground - won’t achieve that.
"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."