The Budget to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne on Wednesday will give a green light to major transport infrastructure projects including the high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds, and Crossrail 2 for London.
The £60m investment into the planning of HS3 is one of the key items of a £300m package aimed at enabling the creation of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – a major economic hub in the north of England.
The detailed blueprint for the HS3, designed to cut travel times between Leeds and Manchester to 30 minutes, will be drawn up next year, but the construction itself is still at least a decade away.
The Budget also includes £75m to develop plans for a trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester and to explore options for improvements to the M60 ring-road around Manchester, as well as the A66 and A69 coast-to-coast trunk roads further north.
Highways England is set to be given £16m to accelerate upgrades to the M62 Liverpool-Hull motorway and London will receive £80m for the development of the Crossrail 2 project designed to link Surrey with Hertfordshire via central London.
"In the Budget tomorrow, I'm going to give the green light to Crossrail 2 in London and the new High Speed 3 link across the North of England," Osborne said during a visit to a Crossrail construction site in central London.
"I think an absolutely crucial part of improving the economy of our country is making sure we invest in our Northern Powerhouse, and improving transport links across the North of England will be a huge boost to the economy of the North of England and the whole of the United Kingdom.”
However, some critics said that despite Osborne’s vocal support for the Northern Powerhouse concept, the new Budget allocates far more funding to the south of England.
Ed Cox, director of the think tank IPPR North, welcomed the decision to provide funding for HS3 planning but warned that it doesn’t mean much until the construction is underway.
"It's important to remember though that project development work is no substitute for spades in the ground and only raises expectations about the Government's ambitions for the North,” Cox said.
"In due course, Government will be expected to invest significant amounts of public money to finally get the construction of these projects off the ground just as it has done with Crossrail in London.”
In September last year, IPPR North released a report highlighting differences in government spending in various regions across the UK. While only £397 is being spent per person in the North West in real terms in 2015/16, London receives £2,604 per head. Similar amounts as in the North West are being spent in Yorkshire and Humber. The North East receives even less - £314 per head.
Cox also warned that the overall amount spent on transport infrastructure in the UK is lower than in other developed countries.
The Budget will also provide £1.2bn for a new fund to help build more than 300,000 starter homes on brownfield land.