The northern section of the HS2 high-speed rail line from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds is to be confirmed by government today.
The first phase of the £56 billion project is due to open in December 2026 and will see trains travel between London and Birmingham before continuing on the existing West Coast Main Line.
A second Y-shaped phase, taking the high-speed line to Yorkshire, north-west England, and beyond, is due to be completed by about 2032-33.
The 250 mph line will double the number of trains running between major cities in the north and south, while tripling intercity seats.
Speculation had been mounting that the government could scrap part of the northern route, which includes a station at Manchester airport, to save money.
Ministers are now expected to press ahead with all stations, but it is thought that Manchester airport will be under pressure to pay more towards the costs of building the link, The Times reported.
A station proposed for the outskirts of Sheffield is expected to be scrapped in favour of a terminus in the city centre.
HS2 trains are due to run at maximum speeds of 225 mph for the first few years and then increase to 250 mph when the network is fully operational in 2033.
It will cut journey times between Manchester and London by around an hour from 2 hours 8 minutes.
Figures published today show that the number of trains between the north and south will almost double to 96 an hour, and the total number of seats could treble to almost 15,000 an hour.
The government confirmed the western leg of HS2 would continue north from Crewe to Manchester airport and onward to a new station next to Manchester Piccadilly.
Connections to Liverpool and to the existing west coast main line will be created to allow HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The eastern leg will see a new HS2 station built to serve Nottingham and Derby; from the East Midlands the high speed route will continue to South Yorkshire with a connection to the existing station in Sheffield. HS2 will continue to Leeds where a new station will be built adjacent to the existing station.
The route will also have a connection onto the east coast main line, allowing HS2 to serve York, Newcastle and other points in the north-east.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said today: “HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business.
“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.
“But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route.
“They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with phase one, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.”
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