A new £32bn high speed rail line between London and Birmingham is a step closer to becoming a reality, according to reports.
The government, who are now thought to be set on pushing ahead with plans to connect England’s two largest cities, commissioned a Network Rail report to explore all of their options.
The HS2 link could cut the journey time between London and Birmingham to just 49 minutes when it is completed within the next six years.
However environmentalists have raised concerns that it might spoil the natural beauty of the Chiltern Hills, as well as being too expensive.
Other opposition groups have claimed that there could be alternative packages of railway improvements that can bring similar benefits without making any sacrifices.
But the report commissioned by the Government found that two alternative proposals would not be able to provide enough capacity to handle the predicted passenger figures which could result in long delays.
“This independent Network Rail report shows that the main alternatives cited by opponents cannot in fact generate the capacity and connectivity boost that a new high-speed rail line could deliver.
“This is why the government is in the process of considering very seriously the question of building such a line.”
A second phase of the project that would involve a y-shaped section adding connections to Manchester, Leeds and further North, will also be considered and could be completed by 2033
The Government is expected announce its final decision about the project next week.