The department for transport has unveiled its preferred route for the HS2 High-Speed rail project in the north of England.
The £32 billion project will run north from Birmingham, taking in five stops: Manchester; Manchester Airport; Toton; Sheffield; and Leeds.
Phase 1 of the London-Birmingham link faced considerable opposition, with some analysts suggesting phase 2 of the plan may even be dropped.
However, chancellor George Osborne has said the project is essential to revive the British economy.
He explained: “If our predecessors had not decided to build the railways in the Victorian times, or the motorways in the middle part of the twentieth century, then we would not have those things today.”
The department for transport said HS2 phase two would virtually halve journey times between Birmingham and Manchester - to 41 minutes - and between London and Manchester from two hours and eight minutes to one hour and eight minutes.
Speeds of up to 250mph on HS2 will also reduce a Birmingham to Leeds journey from two hours to 57 minutes, while phase one will cut London-Birmingham travel to 49 minutes, from the current one hour and 24 minutes.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “It is not just about journey times, it is also about capacity.
“We are finding the railways are overcrowded.
“We have seen massive growth in rail passenger numbers, so this is taking HS2 so it serves the north.”
A final route for phase two is expected to be chosen by the end of 2014.
A proposed spur to Heathrow Airport has been put on hold pending a review of UK aviation policy, due to report in 2015.
More information on the routes can be seen here.