THE standard of most transport links across the north should be regarded as a national disgrace.

Anyone who thinks the so-called Northern Powerhouse is anything other than a hollow, media-spun buzz phrase should look at the chronic under-investment in the north’s infrastructure projects and compare it to the billions being pumped into projects which make it easier for people in London and the South-East to get from A to B.

Look at the time it takes to drive from Teesside to our main airport north of Newcastle during rush hour.

Look at the fractured rail and bus network which means passengers have to hop on and off services and use different tickets for different modes of transport to make the simplest of journeys between the north’s major towns. 

Look at the state of the roads - potholed, patched-up, unfit for an economy still blighted with the highest jobless rates in the country and desperate to attract new, better-paid jobs.   

Decades of neglect, bad planning, competing priorities and a failure to recognise that this region is just as important as London and the South-East have left us in the slow lane.

Anyone who denies that there is a north-south divide in the country need only look at the amount being spent on transport.

The Government spends six times more per person on transport in London than the North.

More than half of the UK’s total spending on transport networks is invested in London. 

It is galling to think that London’s £5bn Crossrail project is being part-funded by northern taxpayers while we put up with a second class service.  

The 30-year plan to give us infrastructure announced today at Darlington Bank Top railway station will cost at least £60bn - £2bn to 2.3bn per year - which, equates to less than £150 per northern citizen per year. This still falls short of giving us parity with the south (almost £2,000 is being spent per person in London on current or planned projects), but it is a start.

The spending gap between London and the north remains huge but this is about more than money. The north needs to take back control over transport spending too, to invest in a range of northern infrastructure projects, and unlock the vast potential of our economy. London has had an advantage not just in its traditional position as the centre of the UK economy but also that it has bodies in place, such as Transport for London and the Mayor's office which make things happen. 

Putting us on par with London will require a long-term plan and a commitment locally and nationally.

Political posturing needs to be set aside. This is not about local MPs or mayors being seen to be doing something to boost their chances of being relected. Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said at today's launch of Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan he was "pleased that my transport priorities have been singled out". Wouldn't it be better to start talking about "our" plans. There wasn't a lot proposed today that hasn't been talked about for years, decades even. Propsals such as the overhaul of Darlington Bank Top Railway Station or improvements to the A66 have been on the table for ages. These are plans which have been worked up across party lines. This should not be seen as an opportunity for any individual to claim ownership but rather to work together in a genuine attempt to do what is right for everyone in the region irrespective of how it will play out at the polls. 

The challenge is huge. If you were an investor from India, Japan, or China, looking to build a factory in Europe, would you be impressed by the state of the A66, A19 or A1 in comparison to the main arterial roads in Holland, Germany or France? If the north has any chance of competing with London, let alone regions and cities across Europe, then we need a transport network on a par with the best.

After being short changed for so long this is the least we should demand.