Commuters could get from Newcastle to Liverpool an hour quicker plans that promise to boost the North’s economy become a reality.
The One North proposals to introduce a high-speed line between Tyneside and Merseyside are trumpeted by city leaders as having the potential to unlock growth.
The Transport for the North board - which brings together local authorities and agencies across the North - met on Monday with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to discuss the route across the Pennines.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, are calling on the Government to support the package of coast-to-coast transport improvements between the two port cities that will incorporate road and rail.
Coun Forbes said: “The One North proposals are hugely important to the economic resurgence of the North of England.
“The plans will join up the North from the Mersey to the Tyne, reducing journey times from Newcastle to Liverpool from three hours to two hours.
“Just as the great Geordie genius George Stephenson helped unleash the industrial revolution when he built the first railways across the north, a joined up North from the Mersey to the Tyne can once again be the economic powerhouse which will transform the UK’s economy.
“And it is not just rail. This is an integrated plan which will see the extension of motorway networks and a recognition of the hugely important role played by regional airports as vital transport hubs.
“The whole of the north stands united behind this plan with clear governance, a strong proposition, and a sound business case. We hope that the Government will work with us to make the most of this exciting opportunity.”
Coun Anderson added: “If we want to rebalance the economy, we also have to rebalance transport spending.
“The Government has invested billions on cross rail in London and continues to spend significantly more per capita in London than it does across the entire North.
“In Liverpool, our port is busier than ever and we are investing to grow it significantly over the next few years.
“We have to make sure we have the transport infrastructure in place to be able to carry freight and passengers across the North if we are to maximise the benefits.
“It’s only with this approach that the whole of the UK economy will benefit.
“We are ready to go, we are ready to provide, we are ready to thrive, but we simply can’t do it without the long term commitment of Government to invest for a whole Northern future.”
The One North proposals include more trains, more seats and more interconnected rail services running on electrified lines.
The proposed high-speed line would link Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle, and offer improved access to Manchester Airport.
The plans include more capacity on the North’s roads, real-time digital information and helping freight move by rail, road and water.
The Transport Secretary said: “Rebalancing the economy and creating a northern powerhouse of jobs, investment, prosperity and bright futures, is a key objective of the government’s long term economic plan.
“It is crucial we work together to deliver a world-class, integrated transport network for the North that reduces journey times, increases capacity and connectivity and enables growth.
“We have already made great strides and the creation of Transport for the North, is an excellent next step.
“I want Transport for the North to speak with one voice to Government on the big decisions to benefit the region as a whole.”