A new body called "Transport for the North" (TfN) should be given £15bn to upgrade all transport links in the north of England at the next budget, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The north of England has experienced disproportionately low levels of government investment in its transport infrastructure, both in relation to London and in comparison with city-regions in continental Europe, said IPPR.
The think tank said the new transport authority would operate like Transport for London (TfL).
Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: "Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the northern powerhouse. Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region's growth prospects and rebalance the economy."
IPPR recommends a contactless, cross boundary ticketing system, like the London Underground and improvements to the current railway stations. It said TfN would oversee improvement for rail, road, sea and air transport and decide priorities for infrastructure investment, franchising and ticketing.
IPPR North said there is a strong case for more devolved decision-making in transport policy in England. Evidence from London and Scotland, as well as from overseas, suggests that greater devolution of transport powers can bring economic, social, democratic and environmental benefits.
However, the precise nature of that devolution, and the appropriate spatial 'tier' to which powers should be passed, is a matter of some debate, said the think tank.
IPPR North's first tabled its "Transport for the North" blueprint in November 2012, and George Osborne has been vocal in his support for plans bring on the north's potential to meet levels of prosperity in the south of England.