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.
More top news
Floyd Mayweather preserved his unbeaten record with a unanimous points victory over Manny Pacquiao in their superfight
A group of nearly 300 Nigerian women and children rescued from Boko Haram extremists by the military have been brought to a refugee camp.
Unsurprisingly the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's daughter has dominated Sunday's front pages and taken up many column inches.