A Think Tank has claimed that Government backing to develop the HS3 high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds will be “no substitute” for construction work actually beginning.
IPPR North warned that the region will expect significant investment in the project.
The organisation’s director Ed Cox welcomed George Osborne’s expected decision to give the go ahead for HS3 and several road schemes in his budget on Wednesday.
However, Mr Cox added: “It is important to remember though that project development work is no substitute for spades in the ground and only raises expectations about the Government’s ambitions for the North.
“In due course, Government will be expected to invest significant amounts of public money to finally get the construction of these projects off the ground just as it has done with Crossrail in London.
“Until then, as a region and as a nation, the amount of money we invest in transport infrastructure remains much lower than other developed nations.”
Louise Ellman, chair of the Commons’ Transport Select Committee, said there is “far more investment in the South than there is in other regions”.
Ms Ellman described improving trans-Pennine links as “equally important” to the North as Crossrail is to London.
She said the £300 million budget package to boost transport in the North “isn’t very much” compared to Crossrail 2, which is expected to cost £27 to £32billion.
Ms Ellman added: “We need to know the detail of what is being proposed.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the green light for Crossrail 2 was “an amazing step forward for London”.
Mr Johnson told LBC radio: “I hope people really understand the significance of this. What fools we would look if we weren’t by 2018 already well down the track with Crossrail 2.”
The Mayor acknowledged that Crossrail 2’s £27 billion budget was “a huge sum of money”, but insisted he was “confident that London can pay about 56 per cent of that budget from its own resources”, including money coming from developments arising as a result of its construction.
But in the North, some commuters were cynical.
Adam Jones, 23, who travels by train into Manchester from Buckshaw Village, Chorley, said there was an “imbalance” between the North and the South.
Mr Jones said: “There’s an imbalance, isn’t there? The talk of the Northern Powerhouse is premature, I don’t think we are the priority – well, I think we are less of a priority. The standard of trains is horrendous.
“My girlfriend is from Kent and she travels from London to Victoria and the standard is much better.”
Manchester commuter Kirsty Holden upon hearing Mr Osborne’s plans said: “It sounds like typical southern bias, they are just trying to fob us off.”
Franc Martinez, 34, who lives in Manchester but uses the train to travel around the UK, said that it can sometimes take longer to travel to Leeds than it does to London.
Mr Martinez said: “I find it frustrating. Sometimes it takes longer to get to Leeds than it does to London. I think we need help and investment in the North.”
Gemma Hawkins, 22, who also uses the trains, said: “Manchester is becoming a mini London so they need to invest more on transport, but it’s always London.
“Whenever someone is coming to visit the UK, it is always London. They should do a lot more for Manchester because it is becoming more business-led. The carriages are so old, it’s ridiculous.”
IPPR North released a report in September highlighting the variation in national infrastructure spending on transport across Britain.
Three-hundred and ninety-seven pounds is being spent per person in the North West in real terms in 2015 to 2016 – which is just 15 per cent of London’s figure of £2,604, according to the research.
The North East is even lower at 12 per cent, equating to £314 spent per person.