Small northern towns and cities need better communication links with regional capitals if they are not to fall further behind counterparts in the south , according to a regeneration think-tank. Financial Times

The Centre for Cities said people and businesses in thriving smaller towns and cities in the south-east had much better connections with London that helped them keep pace with the growth of the capital’s economy.

The report found that more than 10% of Reading’s working population commuted 40 miles into London every day, compared with less than 3% of Burnley’s residents travelling half that distance daily into Manchester.

Reading has fast road and rail links into the capital, with high-speed trains taking 30 minutes to reach Paddington, while the train journey from Burnley to Manchester takes 80 minutes and usually involves a change.