Prime Minister David Cameron says HS2 will create 100,000 jobs.
He added: “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.
“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.”
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Friday's early forecast for the west of the region
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A lorry driver who crashed into a bridge on the M20 in Kent - injuring a motorcyclist - has been spared jail.