Trains travelling at more than 200mph will connect London to Manchester and Glasgow by 2026, the Transport Secretary will promise today as she gives the green light to first phase of the controversial HS2 rail scheme.
Justine Greening will anger Home Counties Tory MPs by backing the £32bn project connecting London and Birmingham in 45 minutes, with spurs to Leeds and Manchester.
Councils along the route are preparing a legal challenge, arguing that there is no business case for HS2 and that it will wreak environmental havoc.
Ms Greening will announce that the new trains will be designed to ensure they can continue their journeys after Birmingham to destinations on the West Coast mainline on existing tracks, albeit at not such a high speed. Journey times to Manchester will be cut by half an hour to 98 minutes, and to Glasgow by 30 minutes to four hours.
A Transport department source said: "HS2 isn't just about getting between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester more quickly, but bringing faster services and many more seats to towns and cities well beyond the HS2 network."