The £32.7bn project is scheduled to be completed in 2032 (Department of Transport)
Details of the next stage of the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link network to cities in the north of England have been unveiled by the government.
Extending the previously planned London to Birmingham line, phase two of the route will see the HS2 route extended to Manchester, Toton in the East Midlands, Sheffield, and Leeds.
It is hoped the £32.7bn project will create at least 100,000 jobs, and Prime Minister David Cameron claims the route will "invigorate and rebalance" Britain's economy.
Despite this, the government is expected to face further criticism regarding the rural areas the line will be built through, having already faced backlash about the London to Birmingham link.
The Department for Transport said the new 211-mile, Y-shaped extension will have a total of five stops and is scheduled to be completed in 2032, six years after the first phase.
As part of the proposed extension, the new line will see stops at:
- Toton, East Midlands, between Nottingham and Derby and one mile from the M1
- Manchester - alongside the existing Piccadilly station
- Manchester airport - interchange by the M56 between Warburton Green and Davenport Green
- Sheffield - at Meadowhall shopping centre
- Leeds - at New Lane in the South Bank area connected to the main station by walkway.
The Department of Transport said the speed of the HS2 link will reduce the journey time from Manchester to Birmingham to 41 minutes and travel time between Manchester to London will be nearly halved to one hour and eight minutes.
A journey from Leeds to Birmingham will also be roughly halved to 57 minutes, and Leeds to London Euston will take one hour 22 minutes, down from the current time of two hours and 12 minutes.
Map of the proposed route outlined by the government
Despite the protest from rural communities about the effect of the project on the surrounding countryside, the government insists it will listen to key stakeholders to minimise disruption.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "As with previous consultations, we will work closely with communities and interested parties to find the right balance between delivering the essential infrastructure that we need and respecting the rights and justifiable concerns of those who will be most affected by HS2's construction."
McLoughlin added the proposed routes would "deliver a priceless dividend" for the UK and is due to be finalised next year.
He added: "While doing nothing would be the easy choice it would also be the irresponsible choice. This is an unparalleled opportunity to secure a step-change in Britain's competitiveness, and this government will do everything possible to ensure that the towns and cities in the midlands and the north get the connections they need and deserve to thrive."
The prime minister said: "Linking communities and businesses across the country and shrinking the distances between our greatest cities, high-speed rail is an engine for growth that will help to drive regional regeneration and invigorate our regional economies.
"It is vital that we get on board the high-speed revolution. We are in a global race and this government's decision to make high-speed rail a reality is another example of the action we taking to equip Britain to compete and thrive in that race.
"High-speed rail is a catalyst that will help to secure economic prosperity across Britain, rebalance our economy and support tens of thousands of jobs."
Chancellor George Osborne said HS2 will be an "engine for growth" in the north and midlands.
He told BBC Breakfast: "In the end, as a country, you have got to make those long-term choices. If our predecessors hadn't decided to build the railways in the Victorian times or the motorways in the middle part of the 20th century, then we wouldn't have those things today."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "We have to move with the times as a country. We can't keep relying on Victorian infrastructure for 21st Century Britain.
"We can't keep turning a blind eye to the north-south divide in our economy. That is what this high-speed project is all about.
"Of course there'll be people who don't like one or other aspect of it but if we really want to build for the future, so that our children and grandchildren have a future fit for the 21st Century, we've got to get moving."
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail:
This article is copyrighted by IBTimes.co.uk, the business news leader