YORK is among a "coalition" of cities whose leaders have launched a new campaign group calling for a commitment to deliver high-speed rail links to the north.

The Connected Cities group is seeking guarantees that the HS2 scheme benefits northern cities and regions as quickly as possible, and for track-laying to start earlier along tracks in the east of the country as well as in the west.

The campaign was launched in Westminster this week and is backed by former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine, ex-Transport Secretary Lord Adonis and music mogul and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman. As well as York, council leaders in Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Liverpool, Derby and Manchester are part of the group.

City of York Council leader James Alexander said the campaign is aimed at starting a "wider debate" over maximising HS2's benefits, saying: "The implementation of HS2 is vital if our cities are to drive economic growth and create new jobs across the country.

"I'm pleased that HS2 sits within a wider plan for rail development, with electrification of the TransPennine line and sustained investment in the East Coast Mainline. We want to see this extend to the HS2 college being situated within the Leeds City Region."