Almost 70,000 people have signed a petition demanding a Government U-turn on transport policy ahead of a summit meeting of northern political and business leaders this week.

The petition calls for more investment in transport outside London and the south east amid claims of a huge north-south divide in Government spending.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling angered politicians in the north by last month announcing Government support for a £30 billion Crossrail 2 scheme for London, days after axing or downgrading rail projects in Wales, the midlands and the north – including the pledge to electrify the line through Huddersfield which has now been dropped.

Figures published by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) North shows the North of England has seen £59 billion less spending over the last decade compared to the capital.

Tens of thousands of commuters have signed up to the IPPR petition calling for the promised Manchester-Leeds trans-Pennine electrification to go ahead and £59 billion investment in northern transport to match money spent in the south.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had given reassurances funding, for the creation of a fourth lane using the hard shoulder of the M62 from Huddersfield to Manchester, is still available
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

This week a major cross-party summit is being held in Leeds to discuss transport investment in the north

Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: “The Government still hasn’t engaged with the north seriously over this issue.

“Instead, it has tried to defend its plans by pointing to the small amount of investment it does make or rehashing previously announced spending.

“The reality is that the Government promised to fully electrify these lines. The north expects this promise to be kept.

“The facts are clear, whether in the official Government statistics or in the daily experience of northern commuters.

“The best way forward is to deliver the fresh funding and powers northern commuters clearly need.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) has insisted money for the north is not being cut, despite earlier pledges to electrify trans-Pennine rail lines to improve speed and capacity now in doubt.

Instead, new “bi-mode” trains which run on diesel and electricity are planned. Critics say electric trains are faster, cleaner and greener.

The IPPR petition is at