The government has outlined the preferred routes for the second phase of the high-speed rail project from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds.
This announcement confirms the government intends to go ahead with the controversial project, although a decision on how to run the line to Sheffield has been delayed.
The first phase of the £56bn railway is due to open in December 2026 and will see trains travel at high speed 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.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said following a consultation that started in 2013, the western leg of HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester airport then on to Manchester city centre, where a new station will be built at Piccadilly.
There will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing West Coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the eastern leg, HS2 will continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station will be built to serve Nottingham, Derby and the wider region, then continue north from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire.
Grayling said the government proposes that HS2 should serve Sheffield with a connection to the existing station but will further consult before making a decision.
From South Yorkshire, HS2 will continue to Leeds where a new HS2 station will be built in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the existing station
HS2 will also have a connection onto the East Coast Main Line, allowing HS2 to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the north-east.
The government said HS2 will be a major boost for the UK economy although critics argue it’s too costly and will blight parts of England’s countryside.
Penny Gaines, the chair of Stop HS2, told The Guardian: “The government is proposing spending £56bn or more on a railway line most people don’t want and that won’t benefit the economies of the Midlands and the north.
“Anywhere where there are gaps in the line is continued uncertainty for people affected. Phase two was announced in early 2013, and these people have been living in limbo for nearly four years.”