The coalition Government gave the go-ahead for the £32 billion HS1 and HS2 high-speed rail project today, including Manchester and Leeds in its routes.
The new routes are predicted to significantly reduce journey times between UK cities.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening says the rail line is expected to bring ‘more seats, better connections, new jobs and growth and prosperity’ for the entire country.
The second phase of the new 225mph trains will connect Manchester and Leeds to a new Birmingham City Centre station, with the line continuing to a rebuilt Euston station in London. The northern connection is schedule for completion by 2033, with a formal consultation on second phase routes beginning in early 2014.
Justine Greening said: "HS2 will link some of our greatest cities – and high-speed trains will connect with our existing railway lines to provide seamless journeys to destinations far beyond it. This is a truly British network that will serve far more than the cities directly on the line."
The journey time from Leeds to Birmingham will be reduced from two hours to just less than one hour on trains that are capable of holding 1,100 passengers. The journey from Manchester to London will be cut by 60 minutes to one hour eight minutes.
A recent investigation for a peak return train ticket from Manchester to London found prices as high as £296, leading many to doubt the affordability of the planned routes.
Stage one of the development will connect London to Birmingham in just three quarters of an hour, and is expected to be completed in 2026.
David Cameron’s official spokesperson said: "The point of this scheme is that for every pound spent, it generates £2 in benefits. This is vital to our efforts to rebalance the economy and tackle the problem of the north/south divide."