The high-speed rail link set to slash journey times between Manchester and London is due to open six years ahead of schedule, it was announced today.
The 250mph HS2 line is expected to cut the travel time from two hours and eight minutes currently to just one hour and eight minutes.
High-speed trains were set to pull into Manchester by 2033, but Chancellor George Osborne has announced the link connecting Crewe to Birmingham will now open in 2027.
He said the news would deliver a huge boost to devolution to the so-called Northern Powerhouse, with increased capacity on the region’s railways.
The new route has long been billed as a significant catalyst for driving growth and re-balancing regional economies.
The Chancellor also confirmed that John Cridland, the former director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has been appointed as the first chairman of Transport for the North (TfN), a new body to help transform transport connectivity across the region.
A pot of £200m has been confirmed to support its operations and delivery of ‘smart-card’ ticketing across rail, bus and trams.
Mr Osborne said: “In my Spending Review we committed to the biggest rise in transport spending in a generation meaning that major projects like the construction of HS2, to link the Northern Powerhouse to the south, can begin.
“Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse, where high speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country.”
Travel times between Crewe and London are now set to be cut by 45 minutes, and Glasgow to London by 48 minutes, by 2027.
Rail chiefs outlined plans for the so-called HS3 scheme linking Manchester with Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull in October last year.
Now the Chancellor confirmed the Government’s commitment to the full ‘Y-shaped’ network for Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
A typical journey from Leeds to Manchester, a report on the progress of HS2 reveals, could be cut from an average of 55 minutes to somewhere between 26 and 35 minutes. The number of trains running along the route could also be doubled.