Northern MPs demand extra billions for transport after months of travel chaos
A cross-party coalition of politicians has urged Philip Hammond to plough billions of pounds of extra funding into transport in the North of England.
The demand for a £100bn cash boost from the Chancellor comes after months of misery for commuters, who have faced severe disruption amid ongoing electrification works and a set of botched timetabling changes.
The alliance of more than 80 MPs and peers from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership - which is chaired by ex-chancellor George Osborne - say the money should be phased in over the next 30 years to "reverse decades of underinvestment".
In a letter to Mr Hammond, spearheaded by Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, the group calls for urgent investment in a planned Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which would see new high-speed lines as well as a string of upgrades to existing services.
Mr Hollinrake said: "Bringing forward the delivery date of NPR to the same time as HS2 arrives in the North could see the coming generation enjoy further education and job opportunities currently beyond young people today, and stimulate significant growth for the whole of the UK."
Earlier this week, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said the ongoing rail disruption had cost the economy £38m, with more than a million hours of time lost from people's lives so far.
Labour MP Caroline Flint, who is among those signing the letter to the Chancellor, said the chaos strengthened the case for a cash boost.
"We have seen the huge impact the recent timetable fiasco has had on the Northern Powerhouse - commuters unable to get to work, businesses losing out and childcare arrangements being disrupted.
"It is simply not good enough and needs urgent action to address the North's outdated transport network. Investing up to £100bn in improving roads and rail is a must-have for the people of the North."
The letter has been signed by a string of Tory MPs in Northern constituencies, in a move which will pile additional pressure on Mr Hammond to splash the cash.
The Department for Transport said it was already investing billions in upgrading services.
"Transport for the North are currently working to produce a business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail by the end of 2018. We will continue to work with them to make that proposal as strong as possible.
"We are spending over £13bn through to 2020 to transform transport across the North - the biggest investment any government in history has ever made."