BUSINESS leaders from York will today join their northern counterparts in urging transport secretary Chris Grayling to show a “firm commitment” to Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Ahead of an interview session in Leeds, the Secretary of State will have a private meeting with the board of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) about key transport issues affecting growth and productivity in the region.

The visit comes as new research from NPP, which is supported by business leaders from across York and North and East Yorkshire, shows that more than 80 per cent of Northerners say upgraded transport links across the region will give a major boost to local businesses.

The findings also reveal that three quarters of people think that the government has not invested enough in transport infrastructure in the North.

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) is a transformational scheme to dramatically reduce journey times and increase capacity across the North, and has been supported by Drax chief executive Andy Koss, York Data Services managing director Mark Fordyce, Minster FM managing director Bridget Davies and York College principal Alison Birkinshaw.

NPP and a range of businesses across the North are calling on the government to commit to the construction of the NPR network as the next phase of the country’s High Speed Rail Network at the Autumn Budget on November 22, as a key part of the government’s regional growth strategy.

More than 80 Northern businesses have signed a letter calling for commitment to NPR.

Jim O’Neill, NPP Board member who will chair today’s meeting with the Secretary of State, said: “I welcome the Secretary of State’s visit, and I have every confidence that he will hear loud and clear how important business and civic leaders in the North consider Northern Powerhouse Rail to be.

“NPR will boost investment opportunities right across the North of England. If the Transport Secretary is serious about spreading regional growth across Britain, it’s vital that he urgently backs our plans for a new rail link.”