The next phase of the high-speed rail project - HS3 - needs a 'kick-start' if the North is to become a 'powerhouse', a report has claimed.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said the North needed "immediate and very significant investment", with the HS3 link between Manchester and Leeds a key part of that. The report also called for steps to reduce congestion on the M62.
Lord Adonis, former Labour transport secretary and chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said work on HS3 and other transport infrastructure projects needs to "begin as quickly as possible".
Lord Adonis said: "Leeds and Manchester are just 40 miles apart but there is no quick and easy way to travel between the two. In rush-hour it can take more than two hours by car, by train it can be almost an hour.
"So we should kick-start HS3 across the Pennines and slash journey times to just 30 minutes. But we must not wait decades for change - journey times should be cut to 40 minutes by 2022."
With plans for HS3 already supported by the government, the Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce more details in tomorrow's Budget statement.
Full plans for HS3 are likely to be published next year, while Mr Osborne is set to reveal that the £161 million upgrades to the M62 motorway between Liverpool and Hull will be brought forward. The Chancellor is also expected to announce £75m to explore the possibility of a road tunnel through the Pennines.