An urgent review of high-speed rail is needed to ensure the services come further north, the Scottish First Minister has said.
Alex Salmond said the current proposals provide "no such thing" as a UK-wide network. He has now urged leaders in the north east of England to join forces with the Scottish Government in a bid to ensure the new service also benefits their areas.
The UK Department for Transport wants the first phase of its high-speed line to connect London and Birmingham by 2026, followed by extensions to Manchester and Leeds by 2033.
But Mr Salmond insisted it was "critical" that the needs of areas such as Scotland and the North East should not be "shelved in favour of a south-centric project which will leave the north of these islands cut off".
He called on the North East Economic Forum to work with his administration to demand high-speed rail "be delivered in the north as soon as possible". He made the plea as he addressed the forum in Newcastle, where he said: "The current proposals for high-speed rail are promoted as being for a 'UK network' - but we know it is no such thing.
"Neither Edinburgh nor Newcastle, Glasgow nor Liverpool feature in the Department for Transport's proposals for this link and it is clear there is no urgency from the South East to recognise this gaping need."
Mr Salmond argued that both Scotland and the north east of England had "strong economies which could be stronger with better links to each other". He added: "This is why we need an urgent review of the current high-speed rail plans to ensure it can be delivered faster - and beyond Birmingham."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "This is a truly British network that will serve far more than the cities directly on the line - seamless transition of trains on to the East Coast and West Coast main lines is expected to slash the journey time between Edinburgh and Glasgow to London by up to an hour without the need to change trains.
"The Secretary of State will publish his preferred route for phase 2 before the end of the year.
"Additionally, the Secretary of State announced last month that he has asked officials to work with the Scottish Government to explore how best to boost capacity and cut journey times further so that Scotland can be fully brought into our vision for a high speed Britain."