Unprecedented growth in the last ten years has seen passenger journeys grow by 50 per cent to almost 1.5bn a year and that number is set to continue to grow. More people use the railways today than at any time since the Second World War, on a network half the size it was then ...
This is a rare chance to stop playing catch-up on capacity.
– David Higgins, chief executive, network rail
He added that Network Rail was already planning to ensure that HS2 would integrate with the existing network with as little disruption as possible.
Passengers will welcome this latest news on HS2, which will radically increase space and new services for the North.
It could also lead to better connectivity between towns and cities - not just London routes. Almost as important is the space freed up on existing routes which will open up more new journey opportunities.
Chancellor George Osborne said HS2 will be an "engine for growth" in the North and Midlands, and will create tens of thousands of jobs.
He acknowledged that communities along its route would face a "very difficult" disruption to their lives, but said the economic benefits were "pretty compelling". He told BBC Breakfast:
I think it is the engine for growth in the North and the Midlands of this country. I think it is going to create tens of thousands of jobs in Manchester and across our great cities.
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.
The head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has welcomed the announcement of the second phase of the HS2 rail network linking Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham:
We cannot sit on our hands when the West Coast Main Line is set to reach full capacity by the 2020s and freight will be squeezed.
Extending HS2 to the North is the project’s big prize. It will boost the economic potential of some of our biggest cities, driving growth and creating jobs across the country. This is the same bold, long-term thinking that helped the Victorians build our original network.
The Government has announced that plans to extend the High Speed 2 rail network to Heathrow airport are "subject to the findings of the Airports Commission report".
Sir Howard Davies' review of future airport capacity is not due to give a final report until the summer of 2015.
The Department for Transport announced this morning that "HS2 will connect to Heathrow Airport from the first day that Phase One opens via a fast 11-minute Crossrail link at the new Old Oak Common station."
Transport Secretary Maria Eagle spoke to ITV Daybreak about the next phase of the HS2 High Speed Rail route, which has just been unveiled.
HS2 was initially introduced by Labour, and Maria Eagle promised that if they were voted in next time, Labour would continue with these plans.
She added that the current Government however, was not moving fast enough: "So far all we've seen from this Government is a botched consultation on the first part to Birmingham, which they may have to re-run."