BUSINESS leaders in the North-East have called for an overhaul of transport services to ignite the region's economy.
The North-East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says airports, roads and rail networks require significant upgrades to stimulate growth.
The organisations' findings are part of a wider investigation by a North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) review into the North-East economy, which is chaired by former Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Andrew Adonis.
A report from NECC and CBI reveals they want changes to A19 junctions either side of the Tyne Tunnel, and improvements to the A19 between Wynyard Park and Middlesbrough, and the A1 Western Bypass, at Lobley Hill, Gateshead.
They have called on the Government's £32bn high-speed rail network to be built quickly along with an electrified Transpennine link to Middlesbrough and Teesport and increased rail freight between Teesport and Port of Tyne, in South Shields, South Tyneside.
Bosses say the ports need improved infrastructure to continue working with large companies including Nissan, Caterpillar and Japanese manufacturer Hitachi, who will start a £70m train assembly plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in 2015.
The organisations also want increased daily flights to the USA and reforms in air passenger duty, which they believe will boost the region's economy.
Heidi Mottram, regional chair of CBI North-East, who sits on the NELEP review, said: “We have set out the most important improvements business' believes are needed to road, rail, air and sea infrastructure of the North-East export success and ensure future growth.
“The North-East is a national and global exporter and these priority actions will enable the development of connections to key regional, national and work markets.
“It is an excellent example of what can be achieved when everyone pulls together and works at the hub of decision making.”
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of North-East Chamber of Commerce, said action must be taken quickly to trigger growth in the North-East economy.
He said: “The North-East is a world-class business location with world class firms.
“As a trading region with the best export record in the country, it is critical that the North-East continues to develop its connections to key markets in the UK and abroad.
“These projects must be delivered quickly, and we will publish progress reports to make sure pledges are fulfilled.”
The conclusions of the Adonis review are expected to be submitted to the Government later this year.