Transport for the North has called on the next Government to ramp up investment in the region’s rail infrastructure.

In an open letter to all political parties, the body’s chief executive Barry White, said HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), and further improvements were needed to boost the North’s productivity for the good of the UK economy.

Mr White said the region’s rail network had become a victim of its own success and needed a strong backing to drive economic growth and reduce CO2 emissions.

To achieve this, he argued, would require HS2 to be delivered along with the £39 billion NPR programme to connect major cities in the region and boost connections and capacities in outlying areas such as Cumbria.

“The need for investment is clear,” said Mr White, who said the issue of support for rail in the North transcended politics.

“It’s evidenced in the daily slog of today’s rail passengers. Timetabling conundrums, packed trains, passengers left on platforms – a congested network buckling under the strain of its own success.

“One struggling to cope today, let alone equipped to serve the predicted four-fold increase in passengers between now and 2050.”

On HS2 Mr White warned that a “delay or significant change” to the controversial high-speed line could “scale-back the economic opportunities for the North”.

“For years, the North’s leaders have planned and prepared for HS2’s arrival to both sides of the Pennines,” he said.

“Future city-scapes have been planned around it, whilst the promise of more capacity on the existing network for local stopping services and vital freight movements has been embraced.

“Right now, we need the future of HS2 to be resolved without delay, and fully aligned to design and delivery of a new network for the North.

“That means full recognition of the prize for the North as part of the Oakervee Review process, and forensic consideration of where the northern elements of the programme can be built earlier than originally thought.

Mr White added: “Today’s gap in productivity will become tomorrow’s opportunities for not only those who call the North home, but the people and business leaders yet to locate here. Not just good for the North but good for all the UK.”

The letter comes hot on the heels of the “HS2 North West Voices” report published by the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders body.

In it, Carlisle MP John Stevenson argued for HS2 to be delivered to Glasgow and for a stop in Carlisle to help drive growth in Cumbria and the wider Borderlands region.

It follows recent and similar calls from Carlisle City Council leader, Councillor John Mallinson, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and the CBI amid mounting speculation over the future of HS2.

According to sources, the yet to be published Oakervee Review will recommend the western stretch of HS2 be downgraded and the eastern line between Birmingham and Leeds scrapped all together due to the spiralling costs of the project – believed to stand at £103 billion.

The review – which will be used to inform the Government’s decision on the next steps for the project – had been due to be published by the middle of October but has been pushed back indefinitely.

Any link to Glasgow, and Cumbria, would fall in the third phase of work, with HS2 trains using the existing West Coast Mainline north of Wigan.

However, under current proposals there are no plans for a stop in the county – with Cumbria Chamber of Commerce lobbying hard for high speed trains observe the current West Coast Mainline stop pattern of Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme The Lake District.